Storybook Homes in East Oakland

Turning onto Picardy Drive, East Oakland’s block-long enclave of 1920s Storybook houses, is like entering a fairytale.

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.



Tags: California East Oakland Oakland OHJ May 2015 Storybook houses

More From This Category

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and products we find essential. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Product of the Week


© Copyright 2021 Home Group, a division of Active Interest Media. All Rights Reserved.
P.O. Box 20730 Boulder, CO 80308