Open House Obsession: Modernist Echoes High Above Oakland, $1.2M


A prime example of East Bay Modernism, this c.1949 house in the Redwood Heights neighborhood was built at a time of tremendous optimism, and for many Americans the allure of Modernism (and a new way of life) in California was irresistible. It’s very much of that moment, and now on the market.

Whoever designed this house wasn’t operating in a vacuum– and was very likely a recent graduate of what would later become UC Berkeley’s School of Environmental Design. There are clues here that he or she had been looking closely at the crosscurrents of their time, in particular the work of  architect Erich Mendelsohn. A German-Jewish emigre, Mendelsohn also taught at Berkeley in the 1940s, practicing architecture in San Francisco, both independently and in the office of Bay Area Modernist John Dinwiddie. Indications of his influence– however modest– are in the slender uprights supporting the roof at the front and rear, the elegant porthole window, and the strong horizontal and vertical massing, all deployed by Mendelsohn in his c.1946 Maimonides Hospital (now Mt. Zion) and in his spectacular Russell House and Dinwiddie’s Roos House, both in Pacific Heights.

Kudos to designer Kimberly Reyes, who undertook a fundamental restoration of the property on behalf of the owner, subtly and with great sensitivity, bringing all the home’s inherent architectural qualities to the forefront.

At the entry and framing the core of the house, spectacular walls of hand-laid sandstone in a random ashlar pattern and a central fireplace, surrounded by walls of glass.

What We Love; This is a Modernist classic with stellar views of San Francisco and Marin, plus great bones and enough square footage to offer an opportunity to become a very special house. And what’s not to love about this carport?

More: Go to the dedicated site for additional images and details. Represented by Dana Brook at Red Oak Realty.

Open Houses Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3, from 2:00pm to 4:30pm

4140 39th Avenue, Oakland
4-bed, 4-bath

[UPDATE: This property sold for $1,750,000 on December 6, after about five weeks on the market.]