Of interest to local architecture and history buffs is the recent listing of 6401 Castle Dr. in the Piedmont Pines area of Oakland. Built in 1937, for a model home tour that was a part of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, it is on the market for the first time since the mid 1960's. (The Exposition Model Home Tour encompassed twelve homes in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.) With original Art Deco and Art Moderne features still intact, one gets that rare opportunity to seemingly slip into another time and place in history, if only for a moment.  One of the most interesting aspects of the house is the metal Art Deco inspired stairway, with posts of lighted glass blocks, framed by a large vertical leaded glass window, and adorned with a beautiful pendant light. Another interesting feature to note, is the intricate woodwork and use of moldings in the entry on the walls and ceiling. The unusual geometric patterns and cutouts make a strong first impression as you walk in the door. Adding to the grandeur and sense of Hollywood glamour, some of the living room details include frosted glass sconces, and herringbone patterned hardwood floors. To top it off, ultimately setting the stage, are breathtaking panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridges. Additionally, the house sits on a 0.42 acre lot, with nature trails just across the street at Redwood Regional Park, so venturing beyond the wrap around terrace, you find more beauty and expanse.  I heard the house referred to as Art Moderne Prairie, a term not readily used even in the Bay Area. I'll need to do some more research as to what key elements distinguishes Art Moderne Prairie from Art Deco. Stay tuned. But to sum it all up, an architectural drawing from the Tribune of the time, 1937, refers to the Castle house as "the Penthouse Home". Sitting on top of the world, with amazing views, its name was appropriately chosen.

Posted by Bruce Wagg on


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