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Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland

 Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 as the  Alfred H. Cohen House  and  designated an Oakland Historic Landmark in 1978, the Cohen Bray House represents two prominent Bay Area families from the Gold Rush era. The house and property remain on what is left of the original 200 acres of the Bray Estate in the Fruitvale District. It was established in 1862 and was called Oak Tree Farm.

The house is complete, filled with the original contents and interiors. It is not a museum; the original carpets are too fragile for the traffic of people required to be a museum. We are now a study center for everyone who love the complete package. If you are interested in studying the culture, the architecture and interiors, this is the place for you!
 

We need your support to help maintain its preservation. The funding that built and furnished the house ran out in 1925. The house is not supported monetarily by funds from a trust or government funding.

The whole family understood and agreed that this house and contents are an irreplaceable time capsule.  Challenged to cover the high costs of maintenance, in 1994, they willingly donated the house and created the Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland as a 501(c)3. Now, the house and the remaining 1/2 acre are tax-exempt, more eligible for grants, bequeathments, and donations. This enables the V.P.C.O. and its members to restore and preserve the house and grounds.

We are a volunteer organization and 100% of the donations go directly into maintaining the house and property. Becoming a member of the Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland is the best way to insure the future of this place.

 

HOUSE AND PROPERTY

The three-story house is an example of Stick-Eastlake Victorian style architecture and  after the damage from the 1906 earthquake,  the rooms in the rear of the house were remodeled in Craftsmen Style.  The house has 17 rooms, five fireplaces, ornately carved redwood paneling, original furnishings, stained glass, wallpapers, and carpeting.

The property also includes a  1/2 acre garden. It is complete with native trees, fruit trees, seasonal vegetables, hops, wildflowers, two beehives, rose bushes and other ornamentals originally planted in 1884.

In 1865, this property was originally the asparagus patch of Oak Tree Farm Estate before it was gifted to W.A. Bray's oldest daughter, Emma. He built her the Cohen Bray House on it as a wedding present.

A.A. Cohen, her father-in-law who lived in Alameda at the Fernside Estate, furnished it with the most modern high-end furnishing that money could buy.

Here is a rare and unique opportunity to study and learn about the Cohen Bray family's life from 1884-1980s. The house is full of all the original contents since its construction, including items from the estates of their parents' houses, long ago dismantled. 

NEW OPPORTUNITIES: The buildings in the back now offer us an opportunity to become sustainable into the future. We are using the space as a workshop to repair the 85+ wooden windows and doors. 25 are completely rebuilt so far. We are posting our progress here and on social media. We are working on perfecting our DIY techniques, using the space to teach the crafts of preservation while we work on the house. Eventually We will look for funding to upgrade the back buildings to be more usable. We plan to utilize the extra funding we generate from the future workshops to provide craft training and scholarships for individuals from our neighborhood.

Join us with your funds, time and talent and help us keep such a rare piece of California history together and moving safely toward the future.

Friends, please  support us through your membership! Join or renew today! You are helping us survive.
 

Volunteer 

We need YOU! We need help with rebuilding wooden windows, cataloging our collections, cleaning artifacts, decorating and serving for events, gardening and painting. 

Our board is a small group of volunteers now and we need  interested and or knowledgable people to add depth to our board.  Are you interested?

 

Tours, Programs and Events

showcase the home's original interiors, collections and period Victorian garden. 

Tickets for:

December 16 & 17 -Holiday decorations

Jan 7th - New Years tea and tour.

 

Public tours are 2-3:30 p.m.

Closed for Christmas
 

Private tours for 3+ can be scheduled for your convenience.

School programs
Connect students and teachers, to the house and land  through hands-on experiences in the house and garden and family stories. 

Meet our caretakers, read their bios on this link.

To visit us, please contact us in advance.

2023 Projects

Foundation work
Window project photo link

Links to projects below

2021-2 completed projects

Pictures of cleaned encaustic fireplace tiles

Kitchen and butlers pantry restoration

Range discoveries
 

Capital projects that need your help!

Our goal is to preserve and protect this amazing house. Help us toward that goal for future generations.

Fall in love and become a volunteer.

Come once or many times, there is always something you haven't seen yet. Once you've been here, you will never forget it.

We are "In the News!" Enjoy this Oaklandside article published 3/17/23 about our current  challenges restoring our house.

Read and see this wonderful blog by a local artist .

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