The House Above the Morning Clouds

Interesting story… So this house was designed and built by John Lautner’s associate, Helena Arahuete. She really is carrying his flame and that’s so dope.

Outstanding design. Bottomless budget. The house in itself is definitely reminiscent of Lautner’s heavy use of strong angles and floating volumes.


Look at this shiiiit

Glass House Living Room

Yes, I see myself doing very important things at that desk like crossing my arms, looking outside.

Glass House Desk

Now the client was this dude, John Roscoe. His business? Cigarettes. Yup. He built a business around selling cigarettes cheaper back in the 70s/80s I guess. He had 800 stores and a revenue of $1B at some point. Not too shabby.

The 3-bedroom house cost $17M. 1,700 acres (687 hectares!!), for two old people. The motherfucking insanity. But there’s more.

Broke after his business went down, even more broke after being convicted for tax fraud, he tried to sell the glass house for $19M after barely living a few years in it. He sold it for $3.5M to a Texan couple who are using it as a vacation home. What the actual fuck.

Glass House Down

And then it burned down last winter in the Atlas fire. Lol

But that couple –probably billionaires- are going to build it back, as it was or bigger, probably.

I don’t know what the conclusions are here: some people have so much money, it’s really insane. Being able to buy so much space on top of a mountain in the Bay just like that, to only use sometime. And not even bothering about anything, just rebuild the whole thing. Dat privilege.

The weirdness for Helena to build the dream house of someone who’s been selling a very addicting drug that slowly kills people.

The douchebaggery of not considering for a second to integrate the house more with the terrain, you know, to show some humility to humans around and respect to the surrounding nature.

The fact that the sale was a STEAL (80% off!!). The fact that a massive wealth made from cigarettes ends up burning to the ground on a hill.

Don’t build on top of a hill. Don’t sell bad habits.

2 Responses to “The House Above the Morning Clouds”

  1. Denise Walsh Says:

    This house was an absolute amazing structure! It was up for rental for weddings (this was WAY before AIrBNB); I was getting married in 2008, and was definitely SOLD on having the whole wedding weekend here. To add to the insanity of what you know about it, as you drove up the drive (miles long up the hill) you were greeted with life-size statues of animals you would find in the Sahara of Africa. As you approached the house you drove by the helicopter pad (not that any of my wedding guests would be arriving by helicopter, but how convenient if any of them had a copter that I didn’t know about-LOL). Met with John, very nice old man. He allowed me to wander around this magnificent home. Was going to rent it to me for a cost that was less than any place I had looked at–wondered if he knew that he should be charging more. THEN, he hit me with the fact that he was selling the house and that he could not guarantee that the new owners would allow me to rent it for my wedding weekend. Well that took all the wind out of my sails…no deal. The next day I saw “The House Above the Morning Clouds” in volume 28 issue 01 of “Say You Saw it Homes & Land Wine Country”; price back in winter of 2007…$4,900,000.00. I was cleaning out a drawer today and this ad was shoved in the corner. I opened it and visions of that house and being inside immediately flooded my head. I went to the computer, typed in the name of the house and then my jaw dropped…$19 million??!! To think that for all it had to offer, John couldn’t even get the $4.9 he was asking. Memory serves me correct, within months the market crashed and so did real estate prices on homes, but it’s insane to think that it could appreciate $14,000,000 in a matter of 10 years. Makes me really wish I was rich and would have been able to buy that house back then! Thanks for the write up!

  2. harold Says:


    I’m sorry I’m only answering now but, thank you SO much for your story! This is lovely.

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