Friday, Feb 22 2013 12:02 AM

Historic homes of Bakersfield (with video)

By Emily Claffy

Some of Bakersfield's most historic homes have stood the test of time, even surviving a great earthquake that toppled hundreds of other buildings. In fact, some of these survivors have aged magnificently.

These unique homes are spread throughout our diverse neighborhoods, bringing a special characteristic to their area. Here are four special standouts.

Related Photos

Glass-paned blocks allow interesting light patterns into the kitchen and dining area, and their salmon color is brought indoors in the form of the counter top tile.

Like most of the furniture in the house, the dining room table and chairs were designed by architect Frank Loyd Wright.

Pool in Teri Bjorn's home on Alta Vista.

Living room of Teri Bjorn's home on Alta Vista.

Many of the original fixtures remain in the 1920’s Westchester home.

This 4,500-square-foot Westchester home was built in the 1920s.

The exterior of the Gonsalves’ home is covered with ivy.

The newly-remodeled kitchen in the Gonsalves’ 1930s Sunset-Oleander home.

Built-in nook in the Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home.

Living room in the Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home.

Kitchen in the Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home.

Dining room in the Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home.

The main living area overlooks the lawn and gardens of the Frank Loyd Wright-designed Ablin Home in the Bakersfield Country Club Area.

The fireplace in the living room is an original feature in the Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home.

Original fireplace in the backyard in the Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home.

Arched doorways in the Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home.

Master bedroom in the Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home.

Damask carvings on the stairs in the Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home.

The dining room in the 1920s Westchester home.

The backyard of the 1920s Westchester home.


The furniture was designed along with the house, and are key elements in the living space.

Frank Lloyd Wright's signature is on the gate that guards the entry to the property.

The pool echoes the triangle motif that dominates much of the house.

Glass-paned blocks allow for interesting light patterns into the kitchen and dining areas.

This New Orleans French Quarter home brought a new style to Bakersfield when it was built in 1935, and is listed in the City of Bakersfield’s “Register of Historic Places.”

The master bedroom of Teri Bjorn’s house in the Alta Vista neighborhood.

Teri's pigs Ying and Yang hang over the fireplace in the living room.

Bakersfield (Country Club) gem

The Ablin House, built in 1961, is historic in that it is the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in California's San Joaquin Valley.

To view a video tour of this home, go HERE.

Hidden deep in the hills of the Bakersfield Country Club, on a 1.5-acre lot surrounded by trees and juniper bushes that blend in with the mountainous landscape, rests the Ablin House.

George and Millie Ablin wrote a letter to the famous architect about building their home with little expectation of a response. To the Ablin's surprise, and after some deliberation, Wright agreed to the project. The Ablin home differs from most of Wright's designs because it was built to accommodate the large family with seven children, a necessity that Millie Ablin made clear.

The home is about 3,200 square feet and features five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a triangular swimming pool, and a spacious common area where a glass wall allows residents to enjoy a scenic view.

The Prairie-style home uses low flat eaves, and accents horizontal lines in the brick for dramatic effect. The brick blocks were custom mixed but had to be painted after workers smeared too much mortar on the surface. The pink color on the exterior was chosen because it was the least obtrusive color during sunrise and sunset, when the family would be leaving and coming home. The fabric used inside of the home has been replaced, though the original color was picked to match the colors of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Wright "unity of design" philosophy can be seen in the gridded concrete foundation that covers the interior, patio and driveway of the home. The grid uses 60-degree and 120-degree angles to ensure that every wall, chair and table is meticulously matched on the grid to offer an overwhelming sense of unity.

Wright also believed that homes were a part of the environment, and were not meant to confine people, which is the basis of his "breaking the box" philosophy. The glass wall in the common area was designed in a way that removed the corners of the room to "break the box," and drew the residents and guests outdoors.

Alta Vista antique

This New Orleans French Quarter home brought a new style to Bakersfield when it was built in 1935, and is listed in the City of Bakersfield's "Register of Historic Places."

Located near the former Green Frog Market in Alta Vista is another historic building -- the home of Teri Bjorn. The 3,000-square-foot home was built by Hugh Curran, the original owner, and features sandstone brick, a Spanish tile roof, brick walls and wrought iron highlights.

Curran's neighbors built their homes in the 1920s, so he had to design a structure that made use of the long and narrow lot. The home has three levels: a basement, a first and a second floor. This is also one of the first reinforced masonry homes in Bakersfield with structural steel between the first and second stories, which served well during the 1952 earthquake.

The home was originally painted white until a previous owner sandblasted the paint off and revealed the beautiful brick underneath. Former Congressman and resident Bill Thomas removed the small orchard behind the home in the 1970s to add a pool area, and brick planters. This is one of the few renovations that the home has seen, and much of the home has remained unchanged, including the roof, windows, hardwood and cement floors, walls, most of the tile and plumbing fixtures and some light fixtures.

The basement's cement flooring is original with hand-trawled tiling, identical to the tiling in the sunroom on the first floor. The basement stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter with the gas fireplace, and can be used as a guest space as it features a sitting area, laundry room, kitchenette/bar, bedroom and bathroom with a newly added shower.

Other interesting items in the home include two fireplaces -- one in the living room and a brick fireplace in the backyard -- a curved wall above the staircase in the entryway that carries into the office on the second floor, a curved shower on the second floor, an almost completely original kitchen with the exception of a vintage-style stove and refrigerator, and the laundry chute that runs from the second floor to the laundry room in the basement.


Only three families have occupied this 1920s Westchester home built by former local drug store owner J.A. Hughes.

This 4,500-square-foot home still flaunts original furniture, and other features including light fixtures and cabinetry.

The large entryway has been kept original and features a staircase that leads to both bedroom wings. To the right of the staircase, a small bathroom is furnished with the original sink. And in the entryway, next to the front door, is a small telephone room used to enjoy a private phone call.

The living room and dining room are original; in fact, the dinning room table, chairs and buffet bar are original pieces left by the owner. Many of the light fixtures have been left untouched by the current owners.

The original design of the home included a maid's quarter, closed off by a wall near the kitchen that has since been torn out. The majority of the kitchen was remodled in 2001, but some of the original cabinetry remains. One major change in the kitchen is the addition of glass doors that look out to the backyard in exchange for a wall with a small window. A new countertop and an island were added during the remodel.

A sewing room on the second floor has been changed into a bedroom, and a sunroom near the master suite features new glass windows.

The balcony in the backyard remains original, and has not experienced significant damage. An awning near the living room and a patio extension along the kitchen have been added.

In the future, the current owners hope to add a mini master suite and family room to replace the maid's quarter.

Sunset-Oleander original

Kevin and Emilee Gonsalves' Sunset-Oleander home has been sitting pretty since the 1930s.

To view a video tour of this home, go HERE.

The English Tudor-style home of Emilee and Kevin Gonsalves was built in 1930, on one of the first streets in Bakersfield to have sidewalk street lights installed. The original owners of the house rented out some of the rooms for about 15 years after World War II.

Today, the 3,400-square-foot home features five bedrooms, four bathrooms, detached garage, high-pitched roof, a basement and a third story that serves as a loft area. The exterior is covered in dormant ivy, with green leaves that hug the house during the warmer months.

The Gonsalves have made a few changes to the home since they moved in more than seven years ago. Significant changes took place after the couple agreed to let filmmakers film the 2011 "The Measure of a Man" in their home. Shortly after, the Gonsalves made improvements and extended hardwood floors throughout the house. During that process, they discovered mismatched linoleum flooring underneath, a material that was considered high-end in the 1930s. Kevin Gonsalves has also redone the landscaping in the backyard, adding all new stamp concrete, sprinklers, an awning and iron gates.

The couple likes to blend their eclectic and more modern design tastes into the home, while still maintaining the classical look of the home.

"I have super eclectic taste," said Emilee Gonsalves, who added Spanish-style features in the newly remodeled kitchen.

Original features include French doors, arched room entrances and built-in shelving units. The Gonsalves are interested in turning their basement into a wine cellar, but are content on enjoying their new kitchen for now.

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