Hugh Comstock’s Dreamy Cottages in Carmel

An English fairytale cottage in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, created by Hugh Comstock, now hosts Tuck Box eatery.
An English fairytale cottage in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, created by Hugh Comstock, now hosts Tuck Box eatery.
“Tuck Box” eatery in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California is the only commercial property Hugh Comstock ever made.

Located near Big Sur in coastal California, about 120 miles (190 km) south of San Francisco and 330 miles (530 km) north of Los Angeles, Carmel-by-the-Sea is an enchanting European-style town that has inspired artists, poets, and writers and lured world travelers for decades.

This sweet seaside town, nestled above a stunningly beautiful white-sand beach, is home to several English fairytale cottages, all designed by a man named Hugh Comstock.

The white-sand beach of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California.
The white-sand beach of Carmel-by-the-Sea in California. Photo by Katerina Papathanasiou/The Vale Magazine

In 1924, Hugh Comstock traveled to Carmel-by-the-Sea to visit his sister and her husband. During his stay at this artsy little town, Comstock met Mayotta Browne, the creator of “Otsy Totsy” rag dolls and fell in love with her. The couple was married within a year.

Hugh Comstock and his wife Mayotta Browne outside their residence in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
Hugh Comstock and his wife Mayotta Browne outside their residence in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

Even though Comstock had no practical experience, he decided to build a showroom for his wife’s dolls. The storybook cottage he finally made was named “Hansel.” His whimsical, rustic creation which was inspired by the illustrations of Arthur Rackham soon became the talk of the town.

"Hansel" building in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California was constructed by Hugh Comstock for his wife Mayotta to display her dolls.
“Hansel” building in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California was constructed by Hugh Comstock for his wife Mayotta to display her dolls.

Hugh Comstock constructed several other fairytale-inspired buildings for Carmel-by-the-Sea local people, of which, 21 still stand, lovingly maintained by their current owners.

“Tuck Box” is one of the most impressive buildings that designer-builder Hugh Comstock created in Carmel in 1927. “Tuck Box” is serving daily classic American fare, afternoon tea, and specialty foods.

Within a short drive from the picturesque village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, you will find several exciting attractions such as Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel Valley, Historic Cannery Row, Big Sur, Old Fisherman’s Wharf, and Lovers Point Park & Beach. You can also follow the Scenic 17-Mile Drive in Picturesque Pebble Beach, one of the most scenic drives in the world, to meet the inspiring Lone Cypress.

The Lone Cypress in Pebble Beach, California near Carmel-by-the Sea town.
The Lone Cypress in Pebble Beach, California near Carmel-by-the Sea town. Photo by Katerina Papathanasiou/The Vale Magazine.
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