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Crocker Highlands Home & Garden Tour Oct. 7

Gems on the tour include the fairy-tale "Spider House" and an upslope garden remodel complete with treehouse.

From a Home and Garden Tour press release:

Crocker Highlands, one of the oldest and most architecturally distinctive neighborhoods in Oakland, will showcase the 2012 Home and Garden Tour to be held Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All proceeds from the tour will benefit Crocker Highlands Elementary School. Tickets are priced at $45 each and are available through the Crocker Highlands Home and Garden Tour website, www.crockerschool.org/hometour.

“This is a tour about inspiration and transformation,” said Anna Scott, co-chair of the tour. “Not only are we showcasing the broad range of architectural styles that are the hallmark of our historic neighborhood, we also are raising money to support one of Oakland’s most diverse and exceptional elementary schools.”

The Crocker Highlands Home and Garden Tour is a PTA fundraiser for the benefit of Crocker Highlands Elementary School. All proceeds will help fund the salaries and equipment needed for the physical education, vocal music and computer programs, as well as the school librarian and discretionary teacher-directed projects and scholarships. Crocker Highlands Elementary School serves about 365 students from kindergarten through 5th grade.

Described in a 1925 advertisement as “…a veritable fairyland of rolling hills and wooded dales in the heart of Oakland,”  the Crocker Highlands neighborhood retains its picturesque charm. The Olmsted brothers, sons of famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, designed the graceful winding tree-lined streets  of Crocker Highlands with its period lamps posts, beautiful gardens and gracious homes, including  Tudor, Mission, Italian Renaissance, Spanish, Monterey, French provincial, Colonial  and 1950s modern styles.

Many of the Bay Area’s best-known architects designed homes in Crocker Highlands over the years: Julia Morgan, Maybeck & White, Charles McCall, A.W. Smith, William Schirmer, Kent & Hass, Frederick Reimers, William Wurster and Irwin Johnson. The landmark Lakeshore Highland Portals were designed by Bakewell & Brown, architects of Beaux Arts San Francisco City Hall.

Homes on the tour include examples of period restoration and modern family living, including:

Carefully Preserved Architectural Gem: This 1921 Tudor Revival home is known in the neighborhood as the “Spider House” for its spider-web leaded glass windows and general fairy-tale look. Designed by architects T.J. Kent and Andrew Hass, and builders Larsen and Larsen, the “Spider House” is characterized by fine materials and solid craftsmanship, inside and out. The brick exterior is intricately patterned and complimented by a high-pitched slate roof. Other exterior features include leaded stained glass windows of various sizes and patterns, finely wrought scuppers at the roofline, and brick buttresses which section the front of a leaded bay window. Bright ceramic tiles add a surprising Mediterranean note to the infill of the upper walls.

The home interior carries on the same qualities of solid craftsmanship, with a rich-grain solid oak door and window casings. A Tudor floral motif is carried out in the living room fireplace, the fire screen, the iron stair banister, as well as the iron-based console table. Probably the most distinctive stained glass element of all is the floral screen separating the dining room from the garden room. Overall, the house is an architectural gem, with copious period details including glass, wood, tile, and metalwork that have been carefully preserved.

Traditional Remodeled for Family Life in Period Style: This Italian Renaissance Revival home was built in 1920 and owned by a single family for 50 years until it was purchased by the current owners in 2007. The architects on the remodel were Glen Jarvis and Edward Buchannan of Jarvis Architects, and builder Paul Cerami of Cerami Builders.

In the recent renovation, thought and care were used in preserving the original details and period style of the home. Crown moldings in the kitchen and breezeway were custom milled to match the existing moldings in the remaining parts of the house. As a way to bring in more light and nature, the entire back of the house on the first floor was transformed into a wall of windows, while preserving the original exterior windows of the dining room. Also, leaded glass panels in two of the kitchen cabinets repeat the feel of the transom windows across the back of the house.

The addition of a lower level guestroom, family room and bath, made access to the garden easy. An extensive renovation of the kitchen was designed to be timeless, open, and inviting. Opening up the kitchen to the dining room created a feeling of openness to the backyard and a sense that you are one with the trees.

Garden Redesign — A Smart Solution to the Upslope: This 1919 home has the usual backyard you see throughout Trestle Glen Road — the extreme upslope that begins all too near the back of your house. These types of yards can be difficult to terrace effectively in order to create livable outdoor space. Landscape designer Sarah Ray, and builder Carlo Castellanos rose to the challenge and created a much larger and livable outdoor space with distinct spaces or outdoor “rooms” that offer different experiences in the backyard. The spaces were designed to flow from one to another so no part of the yard seems inaccessible or hidden. The outdoor “daybed” provides shade and respite, while the owner-built tree house proves hours of enjoyment for all the neighborhood kids.

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