Tor House and Hawk Tower
Robinson Jeffers House
Hawk Tower, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
|Location||26304 Ocean View Ave., Carmel, California|
|Area||1.5 acres (0.61 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||75000444|
|Added to NRHP||October 10, 1975|
Jeffers began construction on Tor House in 1919 and with the aid of a stonemason completed it in the same year. Jeffers named it "Tor" house after the type of ground on which the house was situated, a rocky outcrop known as a "tor". He described the land he chose as the site for the house as being like a "prow and plunging cutwater” of a ship. The Carmel area's influence in Robinson Jeffers' work becomes apparent in his poems such as his work “The Purse Seine,” a poem about the local fishing industry.
He lived out the rest of his life in Tor House, while continuing to add onto it. His routine was to work on his poetry in the mornings and to work on his building projects, such as Hawk Tower and expanding Tor House, in the afternoons.
Robinson Jeffers came to the coast of Carmel in 1914 with his wife Una Jeffers. They decided to remain there; Jeffers bought land and began construction on Tor House out of stones with help from a local contractor. After completion of Hawk Tower, Jeffers continued work on Tor House by adding a dining room. (Originally the house had one bedroom and a two part sleeping loft, a kitchen, living room and a bathroom.) The house was lit by oil lamps and candles until 1949, when electricity was installed.
After completing Tor House and learning the art of stonemasonry from the contractor who helped him build it, Jeffers started work on a tower that would take him four years to complete. He began construction in 1920, intending to build the tower for his wife. He named this building “Hawk Tower”, after a hawk that appeared often while he was building the tower, but stopped appearing after he finished construction.
Tor House is now owned by the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation, and has been preserved so that much of it looks as it did in Robinson Jeffers' time. Tours of the buildings are limited to six people, and are given hourly from 10am to 3pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations must be made in advance by calling the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation offices.
Photography of Tor House and Hawk Tower is only allowed during the annual Garden Party, which takes place in early May of every year.