Driving by North Park’s beautiful homes in all their varied architecture, I often wonder what stories the houses might tell. So when I met Richard Campione, longtime occupant of the historic Stake–Schilling Home on 28th Street, I was thrilled when he agreed to tell us his story and that of the house.
You can’t miss the place. On a street dominated by stately Spanish mansions and grand Craftsmans, this Streamline Moderne makes a delightful contrast to its neighbors. Inside, it’s gorgeous, with the Moderne/Deco theme carried throughout the home with touches such as a stunning geometric balustrade and some of the most exquisite deco glass light fixtures I’ve ever seen.
Commissioned by San Diego’s first building inspector Paul Stake and designed by Bauhaus School grad Charles Salyers, this distinctive house has stood guard at 28th and Redwood since 1935. Stake lived in it only seven years before it passed to its second owner, George “Judge” Schilling, known as the Dean of American Horse Racing. The home remained in the Schilling family until 1993, then in the care of Schilling’s two nieces.
Richard, owner of Richard Joseph Salon in Hillcrest, had bought his first home in North Park years before. Every day, walking his beloved poodles, he would admire that house on 28th. Friendly with one of the occupants, he discovered one day that the home was about to go on the market, and knew he had to have it. Making an offer on the spot, Richard was rebuffed, but wrote a heartfelt letter to the heirs to plead his case.
It worked. One day there was a message from the sisters, and after some negotiations they agreed to sell him the home. They told Richard that his letter had sealed the deal, making it clear he’d love the house as their uncle did. And he’s been true to his word.
Interviewing Richard, I am struck by the parallels between him and George Schilling. George and his family loved the home, spending family gatherings and holidays there. Annexing a lot in the 1950s, Schilling built a pool and threw parties for visiting dignitaries and celebrities. The girls said they even entertained Bing Crosby by the pool during race season one year.
Similarly, Richard told me of holidays and summers spent there with his family and partner Richard Spear. Nieces and nephews who grew up swimming in the pool still return year after year. From entertaining friends, to benefits for his passion project Second Chance Dog Rescue, to meet-and-greets for political candidates, there is always something going on in the resort-like backyard. With a laugh, Richard says he’s best known for “poodles, parties, and hair.”
During one such gathering, a visiting psychic described the spirit of a man dressed in a suit, with a large nose and cigar, sitting in the living room — an exact description of Schilling. Telling the story, Richard is clearly delighted with the notion of sharing his home with the spirit of its previous occupant.
I often say that we’re merely custodians of our homes, caring for them and leaving our own mark before the next family adds to the story. Richard jokes that the only way he’ll leave 28th Street is “feet first” — hopefully in the distant future. In the meantime, he provides loving care for his charge, carrying on the legacy of the Stake-Schilling Home.