It’s normal to admire the woodwork in an antique home, but in the case of 4420 Bridgeview Drive in Oakland the wood is working overtime.
There’s plenty to see in this four-bed, three-and-a-half bath Mediterranean-style home from 1928, but it’s hard to pay much initial attention to anything except for the library, which looks as if ambitious beaver contractors are still in the midst of building it in, possibly without the owner’s permission.
But no, that’s just the “tree room,” as realtor Hope Broderick calls it, “with a burl stump that serves as a desk,” just one of several extra eccentricities featured in a house that includes “hand carved wood corbels” and “hand forged copper lighting, stone fort, wine cellar, and dumbwaiter.”
Today you might call a house like this a handmade artisanal artifact, but back in 1928 it was the vision of Oakland architect Guy L Brown, who described it in the pages of Architect & Engineer magazine that year:
It was necessary to follow the contours of the hill and this forced a rather unusual plan in order to take full advantage of the view. [...] The architectural treatment is rather unusual, the entrance hall carrying through both stories, as expressed in the tower portion, with beam ceiling and wrought iron stair railing, a beamed entrance opening into the living room on one side and a large plaster arch to the dining room on the opposite side.
Almost all of which remains visible to this day. In that article, Brown refers to the home as the “Bestor Robinson residence” after its original owner, a local Sierra Club leader, mountaineer, and lawyer.
Robinson was actually the law partner of Earl Warren, who went on to become Governor of California and then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Which technically makes Robinson the underachiever of the firm, but at least he knew how to live in style.
The wet bar in the library hides behind a bookcase facade of all of Robinson’s old law books. Nice.
Realtor Broderick tells Curbed SF that thus far 4420 Bridgeview has had only one other owner post-Robinson.
From the sounds of things, it was until recently an even more impressive space, as the estate sale in April advertised “plank wood outdoor farm table with benches, early carved Spanish Colonial style tapestry covered chairs, [...] small inlaid secretary, Asian table” and even duck decoys and Lionel trains. Quite a haul.
Still, losing the stock leaves the house to present its charms all on its own, from the aforementioned plaster arch, tree room, and classic iron railings (note the iron Juliet balcony attached to the portal coming off of the main bedroom, the better to oversee the household below) to the faux-ship’s cabin bedroom and natural stonework made by the old Robinson family themselves.
The grounds even include two ponds—once stocked with trout for fishing purposes—and a cabin of sorts cobbled together out of limestone.
Eighty-nine years ago, architect Brown told the press that this entire place cost $11,000 to construct—about $155,500 today. The present asking price: more than $1.49 million.