65 Fairview Avenue
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An historic farmhouse, on market for first time in 50 years!
This extraordinary home was built in a landmark year for Piedmont. The San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 had doubled Oakland’s population overnight, and the city was scrambling to annex land. In early 1907, Piedmont voted to become not a neighborhood, but a city.
Also that year, a new farmhouse was rising, filled with windows to capture the light and views across the low Piedmont hills. Built to last far beyond a century, it’s now been loved by the same family for over fifty years.
Set against a backdrop of mature trees including a massive redwood, the two-story home occupies some 14,000 square feet of land, offering great possibilities to its next owner. More than 3,000 square feet of living space are filled with bright, sunny rooms – all designed on a gracious scale. The array of original features includes French doors, wainscoting, decorative moldings, arched doorways, period built-ins and hardwood floors.
In the spacious kitchen, flanked by a formal dining room and family room, a curving, window-lined banquette for eight overlooks the yard. Granite counters, ample cabinet space, a butler’s pantry with more storage, and easy backyard access add to the appeal. A half bath and laundry are adjacent.
In the large, welcoming dining room, entered grandly via double French doors just off the foyer, a fireplace, original built-ins and big windows to the garden welcome guests. Nearby, the family room opens to a southeast-facing deck. Both this room and a bright, windowed study connect to the living room with its elegant coved ceiling and sunny triple bay window.
A lavish column flanked by double arches frames the ornate wood staircase to the second floor landing. Exceptionally bright, with lofty ceilings throughout, the upper level is highlighted by an east-facing, glass-enclosed sunroom. Highlights of the three plus generous bedrooms include a bay window and a half bath overlooking the back garden. A giant bedroom, once housing four growing boys, features a dressing room and hill views. A full bath with shower completes this level.
Set high on a curving, tree-lined street of vintage residences, this historic Piedmont treasure is looking ahead to its next family lifetime.
Our parents purchased the graceful Victorian farmhouse at 65 Fairview Avenue half a century ago, barely two years after they had immigrated with us six children in tow. On arrival, they had found jobs easily in their high-demand professions, and with their hard-earned savings—our mom working the graveyard shift as a registered nurse at what was then Samuel Merritt Hospital and our dad working as a civil engineer to help launch BART—as well as with encouragement and a loan from our paternal grandfather back home, they were able to put a down payment on a home that accommodated their growing family much more comfortably than our small rental flat on Oakland’s 36thStreet.
The property’s unusually large rooms, glowing natural light, and generous grounds also served as an inviting place for my parents to gather with other loved ones in their community. Our end of Fairview Avenue regularly filled with cars. While inside the house, adults reminisced and exchanged the latest stories of their lives, the outside became for the children a wild playground that inspired crab apple fights on the hill, epic ping pong tournaments, and hide ‘n’ seek in the median park across the street. The house frequently echoed with laughter, music, and the chattering of multiple generations of extended family and friends well into the night. One gathering even featured a whole pig roasted in the backyard!
Mom loved to cook for all the get-togethers, piling every bit of counterspace in the kitchen with pots and pans and ingredients at different stages of preparation, as the aromas of her famed dishes wafted throughout the house. Having mastered the skills and art of feeding a large family, she happily led the charge to produce feasts from her kitchen to celebrate the milestones in our family life with large parties—countless birthdays, high school and college graduations, sendoffs, holidays, engagement parties, and yes, even wakes. She somehow even managed to juggle cooking with her responsibility presiding over meetings of her nurses’ association board and of her faith community in the formal dining room.
The former garage was the center of operations for Dad’s automotive hobby. When not at his engineering job or attending to family life at his large desk on the far side of their bedroom, he spent time with cars at the street. He was called Uncle Doc because he gladly repaired extended family cars. Here he perfectly restored two 1965 Ford Mustangs—one red and one honey gold—for the boys to drive.
If 65 Fairview Avenue was a dream home for our parents, it was a wonderland for us kids. The four boys had twin beds lined up bunkhouse-style in the bright southwest-facing bedroom, and the girls—the oldest of the six children—had the luxury of sharing a room with its own bathroom! We quickly got to know our neighbors and would visit elderly Mrs. Raymond next door, listening to her stories about the neighborhood and running across the street with her scrawled letters to pop them into the mailbox. We invited school friends over and explored the easement along the property line, making believe we were pilgrims arriving on the Mayflower. We held teen dance parties with dimmed lights in the living room. Our schools—first Beach School, then Piedmont Junior High and Piedmont High School—supported our various interests, and afterschool activities satisfied our love of sports; we carried home our paintings, wood carvings, and science projects along with our homework and book reports, and the front hall held soccer cleats and balls, bats and gloves, and basketballs.
Our parents indulged our love of pets, and our menagerie included our shaggy mutt Sean the Dog (his full name), Napolean the rabbit, Sam the rescued cockatiel, hamsters, parakeets, lizards, and an aquarium filled with vibrantly colored tropical fish. Our dad indulged our oldest brother’s interest in birds and built an aviary behind the kitchen for chickens (a couple turned out to be roosters and had to be re-homed once they started crowing), fantail pigeons, and ducks. Our oldest brother even kept a flock of racing pigeons that he and Dad would take in our station wagon to release at Lake Tahoe and which would be at home waiting for the two of them in the backyard by the time they drove back.
For us kids, the only drawback to our new home was the added chores. Mom would maintain a rotating schedule of dishwashing, vacuuming, and laundry assignments. And Dad would keep us busy helping with various projects around the house, especially in the summer, including the terracing of the backyard to create a garden that included corn, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe, zucchini, chayote, and fruit trees—fig, loquat, cherry, and pear.
There had once been an enormous redwood tree next to the house. A surviving one further back, now towering, is its offspring. Another tree of note was an ancient crab apple tree overlooking the backyard like the spirit of the land. It was a nut pantry for local woodpeckers as indicated by series of holes laid out in parallel up and down a gnarly trunk. We were saddened when it died of natural causes. In the middle of the backyard is a persimmon tree, evidence of the backyard’s past as a working garden. Plum trees also still dot the property.
Over the years, 65 Fairview Avenue also housed various relatives and friends whom my family welcomed as they immigrated to United States. Whether they ultimately put down roots in Southern Alameda County or Southern California or right here also in Piedmont, room was made for them in our home.
In more recent years, a second generation family was raised in this home. When Dad had a quintuple heart bypass, it happened to be the same time our older sister gave birth to her first child. Grandpa and grandson first met when they were both in the hospital, and the idea quickly emerged that our sister could help with dad’s recuperation during her leave while Grandma could help with the new baby. Our sister’s family moved in immediately and ended up staying for good to help Mom after Dad passed away a few years later.
Our older sister raised three children to adulthood in this house. Our second sister moved back to Piedmont with her family, and her two boys loved going straight to their Grandma’s house after school. Mom had a total of eight grandchildren and delighted in having them near her, holding annual sessions of Grandma Camp in her retirement years.
Our home, our family’s touchstone, is now on the market as a result of our beloved Mom’s passing. She was a remarkable woman who raised a large family in a house as filled with grace as she was. We hope the buyers of 65 Fairview Avenue will have a rich and satisfying life centered in this home, just as we have had.
Open Houses: Shown by appointment
Brokers Tour: Monday 10-1 on lockbox
Additional Showings by Appointment:
Contact Anna Bahnson