City of San Diego Historic Site No. 672, Dr. Clair Stealy House

672  Dr. Clair Stealy House - 1847 Altamira Place

The historical significance of this residence was
determined by applying National Register of Historic Places and California Register
Criterion for local significance. In order to be eligible for nomination to the
National Register of Historic Places, a building, structure, or site must be
significant within a historic context and also meet certain criteria. According to the
National Park Service “the significance of a historic property can be judged and
explained only when it is evaluated within its historic context. Historic contexts are
those patterns or trends in history by which a specific occurrence, property, or site
is understood and its meaning (and ultimately its significance) within history or
prehistory is made clear” (National Park Service.-1997: 7)

Finally, this house provides an excellent and unique example of English influenced Arts and Crafts design during the first half of the 20th Century. As opposed to the Greene and Greene influenced Craftsman homes found throughout Mission Hills, the Stealy Residence exemplifies the English Tudor and transitional Victorian concepts seen in William Morris, John Ruskin, and Charles Francis Voysey. These features include the steeply pitch roof, the flower box supports, the eave brackets, the asymmetrical porch, and the thin lead used to separate the panes in the upper sashes. The English Tudor features are even more prominent within the home. The single fireplace in the house is trimmed with dressed stone, articulated by a single flower carved in the center of the mantel. There are brackets on either end of the opening that support the mantel shelf. While the fireplace is quite different than those normally used in California Craftsman homes, it reflects the popular use of stone during the transition from the Victorian Era into more “modern” construction at the turn of the century. The doors of the book cases that line the living room as well as the doors of the breakfront in the dining room consist of beveled glass cut into diamond shapes and separated by thin lead. The design and construction of these windows is repeatedly found in English Tudor fenestration and provides a link to the English concepts of the Arts and Crafts Period, as opposed to the American ideas. (See attached photographs)


The house is also significant because of its longest resident. Dr. Clair Stealy made significant contributions to San Diego’s medical community as well as to the national movement toward group medical practice. In 1923, Dr. Stealy co-founded the Rees-Stealy Clinic at 4th Avenue and Grape Street. At that time, few group practices existed in the country. Doctors practiced general medicine, specialists could only be found in hospitals (American Medial Group Association). The Rees-Stealy Clinic was established as the first multi-specialty clinic in San Diego. The clinic allowed both general practitioners and specialists to have a centralized chart for each patient. Drs. Rees and Stealy followed the example of the renowned Mayo Clinic in establishing a network of doctors in one location that could consult one another regarding patient care. This pioneering concept lead to the standard patient care most utilized today (Peabody 1992: 11-15).