Ilan-Lael “the place” consists of multiple structures designed and built by James Hubbell and located on 40 acres near Santa Ysabel, California. Ilan-Lael currently serves as the home of James and Anne Hubbell, and is the location of Hubbell art studio. It is also home to the Ilan-Lael Foundation, which serves as an art education and nature center; a gathering place for artists and friends; and a retreat space for like-minded people and organizations seeking inspiration in beauty, art, and natural surroundings.
The history of Ilan-Lael is described in “Building From The Earth Up” by Anne Hubbell:
“The echo of wedding bells was still in the air when James and I acquired this land in 1958. Our intent was to create a home that appeared to grow out of the landscape and blend naturally with the gifts of nature. After fashioning a road that curved through the silvery sage and chaparral and digging a deep well through the granite, we started to build.
“No bulldozers were used and footings were hand-dug. Wildflowers and brush were kept and appreciated for their beauty without irrigation. Weekends were involved with picnic work parties as friends helped us mix cement and gather rocks in a little red wagon. And so with the stone from this land, adobe bricks, and cedar from a sawmill in Julian, the first structure was accomplished.
“Our family was able to stretch out and enjoy more spacious quarters in 1962 when we moved into the living, dining and kitchen dwelling.
“The Master Bedroom. The master bedroom was the first free-form sculptural building; it was all done by hand. Later buildings used a low pressure cement spraying machine to cover the large areas.
“The Big Studio: Here James used steel rib construction with six inch ‘I’ beams for the first time. This was covered with a network of re-bar and plaster wire and it was sprayed with its cement plaster cloak in 1965.
“The Small Gallery: Salvage adobe and fired brick form the walls of this building. The roof is covered with tile made in Tecate, Mexico. The effect of the tiled roof is like drapery.
“The Pool: The pool was built around 1970. A tiled stone bench hides the pool filter. The gazebo roof is formed of cast concrete segments and carved urethane foam over a resin picnic table illuminated by a small leaded glass skylight.
“The Boys’ House: This habitable sculpture was started in the early seventies. The tan clay tiles on the steps and floor were rolled out with a rolling pin, shaped, coded, dried, fired and reassembled on the floor over a period of about eight years by James and some friends. The lively leaded glass roof in the bathroom showers the bather with color.
“The Sculpture Gallery. The sculpture gallery was built in the 1970’s. It serves as both storage and gallery to show larger works.
“The Drafting Studio: …the drafting studio was built in 1982. It is constructed of a metal truss system which could be made of a lighter steel than was previously used.”
In 2003, four of the eight buildings on the Ilan-Lael site were destroyed by wildfire. Over a period of three years, donations from friends and members of the Foundation helped restore the damaged buildings.
With so much of the community’s heart and soul a part of the rebuilt structures, the Hubbell family donated the land and buildings to The Ilan-Lael Foundation to be operated as a non-profit art education center. It currently remains primarily a residence and working art studio, but over time it will increasingly serve the community as a meeting place, an artist-in-residence workshop, and a quiet place for the public to appreciate how art, nature, and beauty connect to our lives and our actions in the wider world.
Despite being only between 28-50 years of age, nine structures at the Hubbell residence and studio received local historic designation for exceptional historical and architectural significance when James Hubbell’s Ilan-Lael Compound was approved as a San Diego County Historic Landmark in 2008.
Please visit the Ilan-Lael Foundation website (ilanlaelfoundation.org) for more photos and information about the Hubbell residence, visiting during the annual Ilan-Lael Home & Studio Tour fundraiser on Fathers’ Day, or contributing to the Endowment Fund to provide resources for staff, building and maintenance, and programs.