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Piedmont has a rich history, reflected today in its many one-of-a-kind homes, designed by a small group of talented early 20th Century architects, including Albert Farr. Piedmont, CA, began as a 600 acre parcel purchased from Don Luis Peralta in 1852 by Walter Blair, for $1.25 an acre. Blair built a dairy on Highland Ave., started a quarry in what is now Dracena Park and later built the Piedmont Hotel. In 1877, James Gamble, then President of Western Union Telegraph, purchased 350 acres of land from Walter Blair and started one of the East Bay's first real estate development firms, Piedmont Land Company, from whence the City took its name. Piedmont means "foot of the mountain" in Italian and Gamble judged it a good choice for naming the new community. His land was divided into 67 parcels and the first lot was auctioned on April 10, 1877. The first home he built was his own, a large house on Hillside Ave. Five years later there were just seven homes in what is now the small, elegant community of Piedmont, currently boasting a polulation of over 11,000.
Incorporated as a city in 1907, Piedmont's City Hallwas designed the next year by Albert Farr, who went on to design many other civic buildings, including the Piedmont Community Church in 1916 and the Exedra Arch, now a favorite spot for weddings. Farr, by then an already well-known and respected architect, had opened his own practice just 11 years earlier and had received his architectural license only 4 years after that, in August of 1901, one of the first issued by California.
Over the next 20 plus years, Albert Farr designed a number of one-of-a-kind, high-end estate homes in the affluent East Bay community of Piedmont. Among the extraordinary estate homes designed by Farr are 44 Farrgut Ave. (1916),7 Muir Ave. (1930), 68 Lincoln Ave. (1920), 40 Lincoln Ave. (1922), 75 Glen Alpine Rd. (1923), 2 Sea View Ave. (1924), 55 Sea View Ave. (1925), 76 Sea View Ave. (1910) and 795 Highland Ave. (1919). One of Farr's best known projects [located in Sonoma County, rather than Piedmont] was Jack London's ill-fated Wolf House, designed in 1911 and not completed until 1913, at a cost of $80,000 (approx. $1.8M in 2010 dollars). Sadly, the 15,000 sq. ft. estate burned to the ground just days before the London's were to have moved in.
Albert Farr's homes were best known for their generous public rooms and high ceilings, as well as elegant detail and wood work. Sometimes not appreciated, was his ability to make third-level attic spaces easily usable as living areas, as compared to the more restrictive designs of his contemporaries. Albert Farr died at his Piedmont residence on July 12, 1947, leaving a lasting legacy of unique and exceptional homes. Following is a video, highlighting some of his better known one-of-a-kind, high-end Piedmont estates.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.