Heritage Travel, Historic Preservation
Comments 3

In praise of the local walking tour

The self-guided walking tour is a staple of local preservation educational efforts. It has been around for so long that back in the dark ages, when I was in college, I was on a team of students that developed one for my neighborhood, the East Main Street corridor in Murfreesboro.

In close to 50 years as a preservationist, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of historic and architectural walking tours. So when Claire suggested that we stretch our legs on Saturday afternoon and take the walking tour of her new neighborhood in Alameda, California — an area known as the Gold Coast — I was all in but a little unsure as to what we’d discover. Since the town is known for its “seasonal celebrations,” I figured that at least we’d see some interesting Halloween home decorations.

And we weren’t disappointed. In the first couple of blocks we encountered a skeleton doing a cannonball into the kiddie pool as well as an ABBA-themed bare-bones band.

At the pool…the skeleton family catches some rays and dives in the pool, with the always popular cannonball splash
I knew that ABBA was old…

However, I’m delighted to report that the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society has a top-notch tour, beginning with a great app that provides useful information and descriptions. Alameda architectural expert Denise Brady provides commentary that is informative, and the mix of current and historical photos is a nice touch.

It helps that the Gold Coast neighborhood is a gold mine of architectural styles, from the 1880s Victorian era through the mid-twentieth century. The range of architects involved in designing these homes is just as impressive, and our family was especially pleased to see several designed by the trailblazing architect Julia Morgan in the mix.

1025 Sherman Street, built in 1913 and designed by architect Julia Morgan
A Julia Morgan-designed 1912 Craftsman-style house at 1205 Bay Street

To give you a sense of our afternoon of touring, I hope you will enjoy my photos of a few of the almost 60 houses included in the tour.

An 1896 Colonial Revival designed by Joseph Littlefield, all decorated for Halloween
Front door detail from a 1902 transitional Colonial Revival home designed by Bert Engels Remmel
A rare extant original water tank that served the homes surrounding 1305 Dayton Avenue
A two-story Craftsman from 1908 designed by architect C.M. Cook at 716 Paru Street
A beautiful 1928 Mediterranean style home at 920 Paru Street. Check out the seven-sided front bay.
A horned owl sits where a rounded window would normally be found on this 1896 Colonial Revival home
This beautiful transitional Queen Anne-style home was designed by Otoo Collischonn in 1893
Corner tower on an 1893 Queen Anee-style home at 1000 Paru Street, designed by Otoo Collischonn

We’ll end with this sweet little English Cottage-style 1921 home at 824 Paru Street by an unknown architect. These historic European styles were popular after the end of World War I.

Thanks to the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society for producing such a great tour for residents and visitors alike. It certainly made for a satisfying afternoon for our family on what turned out to be a crisp fall day.

More to come…


This entry was posted in: Heritage Travel, Historic Preservation


I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.


  1. Kathy LaPlante says

    Beautiful. I’ve worked with the West Alameda district a few years ago, but didn’t have time to venture into the neighborhoods. I missed out. Best, Kathy

    • Thanks, Kathy. Alameda could use a Main Street effort in the commercial district, but the residential buildings are thriving…and beautiful.

  2. Pingback: October on More to Come… | More to Come...

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