Unlike most Bay Area homes from the period, 636 Highland Avenue hasn’t gone under the knife for a complete remodel lately. The seven bedroom, five and a half bath, nearly 6,500-square-foot house was originally built for Joseph and Ellen Ghirardelli, which was finished shortly after Joseph's death.
According to the Piedmont historical society, Ellen remarried a few years after to a Santa Barbara millionaire and began remodeling the house soon after moving into the relatively new home.
The original Mission Revival style was going out of fashion by then, so the couple put $15,000 (the equivalent of $355,000 today, or about three times as much as most homes cost at the time) into a redesign helmed by the Milwain Brothers.
The work has held up well over the last 105 years, with box beam ceilings, grand staircase, built-ins in the library, and sizable gardens. Notice the awesome barrel vault ceiling in the dining room, too. The Ghirardelli house last sold for $4 million just four years ago, but prior to that had been off the market since 1988, when it sold for a mere $700,00 ($1.4 million after inflation).