In 1984 The New Yorker saw the Jimtown Store, a circa 1893 general store in California’s Alexander Valley, as a symbol of a past era. Four years later, John Werner and Carrie Brown discovered the store and the existing wooden duplex and rambling barn behind it. Tired of living in Manhattan, the couple acquired the property and with it a new way of life. They loved the idea of running a store that “really means something to the locals.”

Our strategy was to make a framework for the energy, resourcefulness and talents of the owners. The renovation had to be quick. It had to be simple. And it had to be cheap. To this end we planned to use a few strokes to reinvigorate what was already there: to structure outdoor activities, open the interior volumes, and connect both indoor and outdoor activity to the surrounding landscape. Drawing on their own skills, sweat and ingenuity, Carrie, an artist, and John, a partner in the Silver Palette Restaurant, provided much of the labor.

 Ultimately the design combines a vernacular architecture of expediency with a bricoleur aesthetic of existing pieces, resulting in a structure expressive of the art of the handyman.


Photography Credits: Mark Hogan and Marion Brenner