Home Security Systems – Learning from the Past

Home Security

Home security systems can be pretty sophisticated these days. We have sensors that detect the sound of breaking glass, pressure pads that are placed under carpets. and even tiny security cameras that can be tied to the internet so you can monitor your house from halfway around the world. We used the camera set-up on a house I designed in Hawaii. The Owners live in Hong Kong, but they can check in whenever they want to see if the local surfers are swimming in their swimming pool!

But before the days of electronics, houses still needed some measure of security. I ran across this one in Old Town San Diego at the Casa de Estudillo. The adobe wall around a portion of the property was topped with shards of jagged terra cotta.I would think this would at least slow down any intruders.

The only other time I saw a wall like this was in Delaware at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. The hospital sits on the grounds of the original Alfred I. DuPont Estate which itself had been encircled by a high stone wall topped with shards of multi-colored glass. It was an imposing site and not one that matched the wondeful work of helping sick children that went on inside the hospital.

Here’s the story of how the wall came to be. The DuPont Company started as a manufacturer of gunpowder. During World War I they were a prime supplier of gunpowder tot he Allies. Alfred I. duPont became convinced that Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany would send a team of assassins to come and kill him. So to defend himself, he had the gruesome looking wall constructed.

I think I prefer the electronic systems. They are certainly more discreet.

I hope this information is helpful to you. You might want to get yourself a copy of my best-seller, Designing Your Perfect House. It is chockfull of valuable tips and advice that will save you many times the cost of the book on your house building or remodeling project. You might also like The Well-Centered Home: Simple Steps to Increase Mindfulness, Self-Awareness, and Happiness Where You Live. It will show you how to make your home a happy place.

Bill Hirsch | Architect

Bill Hirsch


  1. Loren on September 14, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Such walls are commonplace in Old Mexico where my uncle informed me it is your responsibility to keep your stuff locked up. If someone takes your stuff and you did not lock your door, its your tough luck buddy. However, if you had your things locked up and secured, the crook would be in big trouble. Thanks for your posts Bill, I am learning a lot. Loren

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