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Oakland storybook home asks $799K

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A holdover from the 1930s that’s anything but depressing

Even the doorknobs on 3740 Atlas Avenue, over in Oakland’s Redwood Heights neighborhood, still harken back to its genesis in 1933, at least according to its most recent listing.

This three-bed, one-bath (plus a quarter bath) beauty, bristling with sharply peaked roofs, last appeared on the market in 1998. The present owners have fixed up the plumbing and the paint job. But overall its original charms remain intact.

Realtor Deidre Joyner suggests that the roof was what sealed the deal back then.

Perpetually busy early 20th century Bay Area builder O.W. Johnson (a onetime resident of Atlas Avenue himself) hammered the nails into the planks himself. Johnson’s name drops around a variety of other picturesque Oakland houses, like this lace-trimmed Fair Avenue home from 1938.

In his day the papers called Johnson “a well-known builder of moderately priced homes,” which is the kind of solid but middle-of-the-road praise that doesn’t generally suggest a man who will be remembered 80 years later. He really must have been one heck of a carpenter for his reputation to have endured.


In emails to the realtor, Oakland historian Gail Lombardi tagged this place as one of Johnson’s earliest homes. Though he was “a prolific local builder,” Lombardi says it’s often hard to identify which homes on the block are really his.

In any case, he would presumably be happy that the mock British Isles appeal of the Atlas Avenue house, still sporting its ribbed trapezoid ceiling and built-in cabinetry in the breakfast nook, has lasted well into the next century.

Note the circa 1940s-era stove in the kitchen; so well preserved that the matching salt and pepper shakers that came with it are still there. Adorable.

In 1998 this home went for just $244,000, about $369,000 today. It’s now asking $799,000.