Inside Mr. Hubbell's World - Voice of San Diego


Inside Mr. Hubbell's World

More from our visit to James Hubbell’s backcountry abode.


I heard from many of you this weekend who enjoyed our interview and collection of photographs with the fascinating James Hubbell, a veteran local artist, designer and environmentalist who’s been building his multi-structure, 40-acre residence in the backcountry since 1958.

If Hubbell’s work looked familiar but you couldn’t quite place where you knew it from, you might have seen one or more of his pieces on Shelter Island. Here’s a list of where you can see some of his public art pieces.

Until the end of this month, you can also see some of Hubbell’s designs on display at the Interpretive Center at the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, in an exhibition the Escondido Creek Conservancy and Hubbell’s Ilan-Lael Foundation is putting on. Hubbell and his son designed the center, which is at 8833 Harmony Grove Road in Escondido. Read more on the show from the North County Times, and you can also click around a virtual tour of the exhibit.

Here are a few more glimpses of Hubbell’s magical world:

After we’d peeked inside several of the dwellings and studios on the property, Hubbell walked us over to a garden.

“The garden we did after the fire,” he said. “I got tired of rebuilding, just putting back stuff. I wanted to do something different.”



I asked Hubbell how he met Anne, his wife of more than 50 years. He said he met her when he went to visit a guy he stood next to in Army basic training, and Anne was at the same church.

“It happened,” he said, “which was nice, because she’s a nice person.”

When his four sons were growing up, Hubbell asked them which they wanted first: their own bedrooms or a pool. They voted for the pool in a heartbeat, he said.



When we visited the studio where Hubbell’s team makes stained glass windows, a hummingbird flitted past an outdoor window. Hubbell gestured to a vine and pointed out that the bird had made a tiny spherical nest there.



Did you make it to Hubbell’s open house yesterday? Or have you visited another time? Leave a comment and tell me about your favorite feature of the property.

I am the arts editor for VOSD. You can reach me directly at or 619.325.0531. Or you can keep up with me on Twitter @kellyrbennett or on Facebook.


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