Victorians of the Island

(And one nearby.)

Some of you may know that Alameda boasts of having the highest concentration of Victorian houses in the country. I don't know if that's true or not, but we do have a lot of them. Because it was a nice, sunny morning, I took a drive around and took some photos to show you some other examples of Victorians, Italianate and other styles, well restored or in disrepair, so you can see what the context for our project is.

Just as a starting point, here's our lovely Casa Decrepit, still waiting for the front stairs to be fixed on properly and the siding to be reattached.

Our house

The house across the street from us was built as a mirror image of our own house, twenty years later. You can see that they didn't make a real hipped roof on it.

Mirror house

Here's another view of the false facade. Hipped roofs are harder to make and harder to waterproof, so the facade there gave the Italianate look without the Italianate cost.

Roof facade view

These people around the corner from us are redoing their foundation, and their shoring is not doing such a good job. The corner of the house has a noticeable tilt to it, and there hasn't been any work going on for a while. I wish them well, but it looks pretty bad.

Foundation job disaster

This is a Queen Anne duplex on the Gold Coast: the neighborhood of Alameda that used to be the beach, until a landfill was put in in the 1950's. It's very nicely restored. Most of the Victorians in Alameda are Queen Annes, which were built ten to fifteen years after our house. That is probably why so many people are confused by the construction date of our house.

Queen Anne duplex

Another Gold Coast house: this Italianate on Grand Ave. (the big street with all the big lovely Victorians in town) is one of our role models for the restoration of our own facade.

Grand Ave. Italianate

Here's a view down Grand Ave. from in front of the Italianate for some context.

Grand Ave.

These boxy houses are also called Italianate. Sometimes I think they use the term to refer to any Victorian house with a squared facade. Anyway, this is not one of the most successful restorations I've ever seen, but this one is an apartment building.

Another style of Italianate

I'm very fond of this Italianate house, which is only a few blocks from ours. It's a lovely restoration. The guy who restored it put us in contact with our engineer.

Nice Italianate

Sometimes I go by this house to remind myself that we don't have it so bad. Also: look at all the gravel in that yard!

Another decrepit pile

Here's a more urban Italianate, the Frank Bette Center for the Arts (an art gallery, basically). It's right in our neighborhood, and may have been built by the guy who built our house, given the location and style of building. I'm not sure how I feel about the colour scheme, but it's not my house.

Frank Bette

Across the estuary in Oakland we have this Italianate house, which is another restoration inspiration.

Oakland Italianate

In particular we are interested in making our side porch into an enclosed glass room like they have here. Since when we have the front stairs, we use those rather than the side ones, we'd like to make the side porch a little more obviously not an entrance.

Glassed side porch

Hope you enjoyed the little tour. There are not many Italianate houses around, and even fewer in good repair or with interesting restorations. It makes finding good inspirations for the historical work (restoring the facade) a bit tough.

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posted by ayse on 03/22/06


Even though my wife and I have a Queen Anne (a lot more modest than the ones shown here), we've always had a soft spot for Italianates. We hope that we'll get to move back to Savannah, GA, buy one.

You have a beautiful house, good luck on your project!

There are a couple of adorable little one-story Italianate cottages on 7th Avenue in Oakland (east of East 18th). My parents' first restoration job is the oldest house on the block, and it's been through two owners since we moved out (in 1979).

That last lovely house you show is the house museum by the Lake, isn't it?

Yes, it is the museum. I love that house, even though with all the high-rises around there it is starting to look more and more incongruous.

I'll have to go drive by that neighborhood in Oakland; I know I've seen the houses there, but it's been a while.

Wow, I really enjoyed your house tour.

The curved second story windows on the Queen Anne are amazing. I wonder if they are fixed or actually functioning double hung windows.

Keep up the great work on your beautiful home!


I love this stuff - feel free to take us on a tour anytime! Beautiful houses.

Oh, I'm curious - is one of the grey Italianates you show the one belonging to the Bakers? AFAIK they still live in the house. They are old friends of my parents, and shared the old-house craziness.

I haven't lived in California for almost a decade, but one of my favorite things about it is the houses.

I don't actually know the residents of any of these houses apart from ours and the people across the street.

One of these days I should do a "horrible houses of the island" tour and show you all the reasons not to miss California houses. :)

Lovely tour! So different from the architecture in our area, there are VERY few Italianate homes in Austin, and the few that exist are old mansions (some falling down, some marked historical and in the process of renovation).

I love the color of the art gallery. Maybe it is because I am used to the bright colors that have begun to appear everywhere here, partly as an homage to Mexican-American culture, partly out of respect for New Orleans French Quarter.

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