Learn about historic Oakland by touring a lovely old home built as a wedding present in 1883 . This home is what remains of one of the many gentlemen farmers' large estates that used to be here in Fruitvale before it was incorporated into the City of Oakland.
The Oak Tree Farm, originally 200 acres, bordered International Ave. to 23rd to Foothill to Fruitvale Ave. and onto 39th. The Oak Tree Farm was sold and property divided in 1886. But the Cohen Bray house, built in the garden of the Bray Estate, still survives- all the original contents, furnishings, wallpapers and rugs are still in their places and are all that is left of the original acres.
In 1990, when the last and youngest sibling Edith Emelita Cohen died, the family members willingly gave up their inheritance to create a 501c3 non- profit. Now, the members of the Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland and descendants of the original family are continuing to work to save the house. Our mission is to have the house be used as a study center for all students, decorators, architects, builders who are interested California history in the time period 1874- 1940. We hope to show and teach the crafts needed for preservation and restoration of historic homes.
Opportunities for your classes
Pre-trip tour and inservice with teachers helps us know what your classes are studying and we adapt our tours for your class.
For K-3rd grade.
Inside: Who lived here? Learn about the family that grew up in this house. What did they do on a daily basis? What did they do without T.V.? How did this house run without electricity?Did they really ride horses?
New hands-on programs
Inventions of the Victorians- hand-held items for discussions about what they are and about the daily life in Victorian times.
Decorative moldings of Victorian houses. Handling pieces of various decorative Victorian moldings, students will be able to identify them on our tour of this house. Outcome they will discover why these make the houses are special and why houses look the way they do.
Outside: Explore the garden. See what plants are used for food. See what plants/trees are indigenous to the region. See the plants that were originally planted when the house was built. See our bee hive and taste honey, make butter and buttermilk.
For 4th grade - 12th grade
All the above activities are available but adapted for each grade level.
If your class has visited the Peralta Adobe on Fruitvale which demonstrates the Californio period of our state's history, this house is a wonderful continuation of California history in this neighborhood. See original newspapers saved from 1900 which discuss world events at that time. Learn about how the family was instrumental in the development of transportation of goods and people throughout the Bay Area on ferries and trains.
Outside activities can satisfy the community service requirements for students toward their graduation.
They can help beautify the yard by weeding, planting in the garden, turning over the compost piles and digging out tree suckers. Different jobs happen different seasons.