Norman Applebaum-designed home hits the market in Escondido


A modernist design by Norman Applebaum, the famed San Diego architect who died earlier this year, has come on the market in Escondido for $2.2 million.

Called Villa Tyto Alba for the generations of barn owls that once roamed the area, the striking residence replaced another of Applebaum’s designs, Wings, which was destroyed in 2007 by the Witch Creek fire. Both homes were designed for the family of Richard Matheron, the former U.S. ambassador to several African countries.

Set on a 2.6-acre hilltop with views of San Pasqual Valley, the single-story house is visually striking with its clean lines, soaring beams and ceilings rising from 8 to 18 feet. Bands of clerestory windows let in natural light and frame panoramic views of San Pasqual Valley.


The house has two wings, a chef’s kitchen, four bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms. The primary bedroom opens to an office/exercise room, while a library sits off the guest bedrooms. A centerpiece brick fireplace runs from floor-to-ceiling in the great room.

Less apparent are the energy-efficient features. The house was designed with photovoltaic panels that provide electricity while reducing visibility. A geothermal system heats and cools the home’s foundation.

Applebaum, who died in May, designed and remodeled dozens of homes over more than 50 years and befriended many of his clients for life, including the Matheron family, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. He received the Robert Mosher Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by the San Diego chapter of the American Institute of Architects, in 2018.

Barbara Nolan of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties holds the listing.