Storybook Homes in East Oakland

Turning onto Picardy Drive, East Oakland’s block-long enclave of 1920s Storybook houses, is like entering a fairytale.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
CRENELLATION: On a Storybook house with a faceted tower and battened shutters, perhaps the most unusual feature is the crenellated parapet, conjuring up archers protecting the lord’s castle. Crenellations are rare in domestic architecture, as they are prone to leaks and rot.

CRENELLATION: On a Storybook house with a faceted tower and battened shutters, perhaps the most unusual feature is the crenellated parapet, conjuring up archers protecting the lord’s castle. Crenellations are rare in domestic architecture, as they are prone to leaks and rot.

Turning onto Picardy Drive, East Oakland’s block-long enclave of 1920s Storybook houses, is like entering a fairytale. These effervescent dwellings are meant to evoke vernacular homes in western Europe, a nostalgia imported by American soldiers after World War I. (Picardy is in northern France; Walt Disney drove an ambulance during the war.) Early examples near Los Angeles were designed by moonlighting Hollywood art directors. The style drifted into other cities before being shelved during the Depression. Picardy Drive was developed by builder Robert Cleveland Hillen and architect Walter W. Dixon, whose houses have been called “modest mansions.” Some houses are French Norman; others are Tudor-inspired, but the streetscape has unbroken continuity.

Related Articles

Products of the Week

A pendant light over the door adds a stately touch to the ubiquitous Victorian porch; Brass Light Gallery’s London Lantern mimics the design of 19th-century streetlights.

Brass Light Gallery

Interior and exterior architectural lighting for your home and garden, in styles from Victorian to '30s Modern. Select from 15 finish options. Made in USA since 1974. They also have a vintage/antique lighting department, and offer expert restoration services.

1_gallery_custom1

Unico System

A central heating and cooling system using "aspiration" technology to warm and cool homes evenly and quietly with flexible small ducts that weave through ceilings, walls, and even floors.