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 is called Oak Tree Farm.
The house is complete, filled with the original contents and interiors. It is not a museum; it is too fragile.
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 family understood that this house and contents are an irreplaceable time capsule, struggled to cover costs of maintenance. In 1994, they 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 so it can be used as a learning-study center for all.
We have no paid staff and all the donations go directly into maintaining the house and property. We consider it a privilege to care for this gift to everyone of us. Please join us and become a member of the Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland.
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 138 year- old 1/2 acre garden complete with native trees, fruit trees, seasonal vegetables, hops, wildflowers, two beehives, rose bushes and other ornamentals originally planted in 1884.
This property was originally the asparagus patch of Oak Tree Farm Estate in 1865, 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 1884-1940s when their fortunes changed and the family struggled to keep their home from being torn down. The house is full of all the original contents of 138 years, including items from the estates of their parents' houses, long ago dismantled.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES! The buildings in the back offer us an opportunity to become sustainable into the future. Now, we are using the space as a workshop to repair the 85+ wooden windows and doors. We are posting our progress 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. We are looking 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.
We need YOU! We need help with collections, cleaning artifacts, decorating and serving for events, gardening and painting.
We are a small group of volunteers and need to grow.
We are in need of knowledgable board members NOW for a secretary position and for positions in fundraising and project managing.
Tours, Programs and Events
showcase the home's original interiors, collections and period Victorian garden.
Private tours for 3+ can be scheduled for your convenience.
Mothers Day Tea & Tour
is May 14th, 2023
seatings at 12:00 and 2:30:
Connect students, teachers, to the house and land through hands-on experiences and family stories told by descendants.
Meet our new caretakers, read their bios on this link.
To visit us, please contact us in advance.
Links to projects below
Pictures of cleaned encaustic fireplace tiles
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 .
Help make sure the future doesn't lose the past.