Tucked into the Madera hillside, overlooking the San Joaquin River bottom, is a house built on concrete piers with large windows and double doors that when open promote air flow from the bottom floor up.
A fountain trickles next to the perfect backyard spot for a morning meditation with the pools of Sycamore Island visible below.
Madera architect Rik Richards designed and built the 3,400-square-foot, three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home for his own residence. It is on one-and-a-half acres of land with an awesome 180-degree view of the Fresno bluffs from close to Highway 41 on the east to Marks Avenue on the west.
Richards started building the house in 1975 and finished 20 years later, said current owner Shannon Martin. Richards’ first wife died during construction. He later remarried and finished what his second wife, Adena, describes as their northern California, rustic dream home that they enjoyed together until Richards’ death in 2003.
CURB APPEAL What is it? BoNhia Lee’s series about interesting houses and buildings for sale in the central San Joaquin Valley. Previously: Historic Republican building in downtown Fresno. Suggest a home: Submissions can be emailed to email@example.com
“It was a showplace,” said Adena Richards who now lives in Clovis. “It was beautiful. We had his memorial service there.”
Martin, broker and owner of Mid State Realty in Fresno, bought the property, at 39868 Avenue 7 ½, shortly after Richards’ death. “I hate traditional housing,” Martin said. “This has great bones.”
The house needed some work. Martin turned it into a more modern and updated house with stucco on the outside and a new kitchen and master bathroom inside. Now, he is selling the house to retire with wife, Paula Landis, in Grover Beach. The asking price is $925,000.
It’s bittersweet to sell the house, Martin said on a recent afternoon standing in the shady driveway in front of the three-story, modern-looking home. “It’s a spectacular place, but we’re ready to be out of Fresno,” he said.
The view of the river bottom starts almost immediately from the gate of the property. Martin spent a lot of time clearing the overgrown bushes around the house for the view. The stone-covered driveway offers lots of shaded parking for guests while residents can drive down a small paved slope and into the home’s attached three-car garage. A fourth garage space is located next to the well house near the front gate.
Telephone poles are hidden in the columns of the unique three-story front porch. The upper floors are balconies. Guests enter the house on the bottom level through a custom wood door with no doorknob. “It was made to not have a key lock,” Martin said. There is a side door entrance to the house.
Inside, the long, narrow living room has soaring ceilings allowing you to see a red spiral staircase wind its way up through the upper two floors of the house. Double doors in the living room lead to a screened-in sitting area for gazing. The kitchen is to the rear of the house and a bonus room can be used as an office or game room.
Each bedroom has a view of the grounds and a balcony helping to promote air circulation when the doors are open. Martin said he rarely has to turn his air conditioning on during the summer.
You can use the spiral staircase or a set of stairs in the back of the house to navigate the first two floors. The master bedroom has a remodeled bathroom and a walk-in closet that Martin had built for his wife. The top floor, which serves as Martin’s office, is only accessible by the spiral staircase.
The charm continues outside. The house was built into the land so the yard slopes and rises with the hillside. A small side yard sits high on the property angling down to a patio for outdoor meals. Small pathways wind around the house taking you from the patio to a lookout point with open view of the bluffs.
The beauty of the property, Martin said, is that you are a “seven or 10 minute drive to River Park, but far enough to not have city noise and traffic.”
“It’s a country atmosphere with easy access to the city.”
Madera Bluffs Home
Address: 39868 Avenue 7 ½, Madera
Size: 3,400-square-foot, three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath
Details: Built on concrete piers with telephone poles hidden in the home’s front columns, screened-in sitting area, spiral staircase, soaring living room ceilings, renovated kitchen and master bathroom, 180-degree view of Fresno bluffs.