The Montgomery House is a historic home of the famed Porch Gallery community, a beloved, high-profile “communal” midtown gathering place.
Described as electric, hip, and classy, this creative space is in one of the oldest buildings in Ojai. Built by city pioneer John Montgomery in 1874, it is zoned for mixed use and ideal for a live/work environment.
The building, instantly recognizable for its large, wraparound front porch, is also is home to Beato Chocolates. Currently designated as a house of merit in Ojai, it would qualify for the California’s Mills Act tax incentives to become a historic property.
A beautiful wood staircase framed by a lovely mural is the focal point of the warm and inviting first floor, accented with wainscoting that extends to multiple rooms. High ceilings and lots of built-in shelving, plus three fireplaces and vintage windows make this home an ideal setting for book readings, lectures, and other get-togethers.
The building has two modern kitchens, one with a built-in wine cooler one, the other with architectural drawings for potential as a commercial kitchen.
Mountain views of the Topa Mountains and Chief’s Peak dominate in the upstairs bedrooms and backyard, making it a truly magical space.
In the fenced-n backyard, guests can mingle on the large deck with seating areas and gas fire pit, graced by the presence of a 40-year old Mexican cypress tree in the front yard, and a mulberry tree is in the backyard.
The property is a half-block to the local farmer’s markets, and one block to the downtown arcade, shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, bars, skate park, Libbey Park, bike path, and walking trails.
In 1874, John Montgomery bought most of the town of Ojai and built a house in what he considered the most desirable location. His home, at what is now 310 East Matilija Street, was considered one of the most charming residences in the Ojai Valley.
Montgomery Street was named for this influential resident. He sold the home to the Baker family in 1886, who raised seven children there. Thornton Wilder, the famous American playwright, visited the home when he attended the Thacher School and was a friend with one of the Baker children. Helen Baker, one of the daughters, wrote that one of her father’s favorite refrains was, “The Ojai Valley is the best place in the world.”
Mr. Baker was also an amateur photographer and converted one of his outbuildings into a darkroom.
Notable people and celebrities who have visited the Porch Gallery include actors Ted Danson, his wife Mary Steenburgen, Toby McGuire, Anne Hathaway, composer John Adams, and author Marie Kondo.
The owners have also done extensive fundraising in the building with multiple Ojai organizations including the Ojai Music Festival, The Ojai (oldest tennis tournament in the country), the Ojai Studio Artists, the Ojai Women’s Fund, and the Ojai Valley Defense Fund, among others. They also hosted tastings and tours of the building.
Photos 1-2: Eric Foote, photos 3-6: David Palermo, photo 7: Eric Foote