Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - November 30, 2012

A view of Crescent Park's finest

Palo Alto Stanford Heritage (PAST)'s holiday home tour shows off lovingly restored homes

by Carol Blitzer

Committing to letting the public in for a glimpse of her 1906 historical home was just the nudge — make that pressure — Pat DiCicco needed to finally get her stained-glass windows completely restored.

The project has been in the works for seven months.

But DiCicco, who serves on Palo Alto's Historic Resources Board, seems well pleased with the outcome. And visitors to the Palo Alto Stanford Heritage (PAST) 25th annual Holiday House Tour on Dec. 9 will be the first to see the windows, a set of six at the top of the first staircase landing, in all their glory.

DiCicco is no stranger to renovating older homes: She's taken on one in San Jose, as well as an 1898 version in Coronado. Years ago she recalls admiring this Colonial Revival home, with its wrap-around front porch and beautiful leaded-glass windows.

When it finally came on the market in 1977, she found it "dilapidated but not redone. Some of the woodwork was painted, but it was one of the more original, cared-for structures," she said.

Today it's on the National Register of Historic Places and on Palo Alto's Historic Inventory. Much is original, including the butler's pantry with a pass through from the dining room; added Douglas-fir cabinets now display dishes. The next room is a cabinet-less kitchen, with original ship-lath paneling. She replaced the old Douglas fir washboard with a green marble counter and painted the walls a soft milk blue.

The pie cooler — which her kids thought was a rabbit hutch — now serves as a wine cooler.

Her one nod to modernity is a Bertazzoni six-burner stove, which she describes as similar to a Wolf, but "not as beefy."

DiCicco found a mention of her home, which was designed by Frank Delos Wolfe and Charles Mackenzie, in "Cottages, Flats, Buildings & Bungalows" by George Espinola, but she hasn't been able to find the original drawings.

Much of the restoration has been done by DiCicco and her family, with her son slowly working on stripping paint from the woodwork, then re-staining and varnishing.

One thing she has changed is the fireplace — although she's kept the original hidden underneath.

"It was yellow brick, more Arts and Crafts," she said, noting that it didn't quite fit with the Colonial Revival house. So she added an old marble mantel from the East Coast that she said "went more with the house."

Off the living room is a library, with original bookcases and lighting fixture.

"They were going to tear this down in 1976 and had an estate sale and took things out," she said. So she's had to bring back light fixtures appropriate to the house's period.

A small half-bath off the library sports a black pedestal sink and toilet, with a green marble floor.

At one point, DiCicco had an antiques business, and so much of the furniture throughout the house is from that era.

A couple of weeks before the tour, Ariana Makau, of Nzilani Glass Conservation in Oakland, was installing the completed stained-glass windows, which she described as being in very poor shape before the painstaking restoration began.

"We improved upon their structural integrity. We didn't want to diminish what they looked like originally," she said.

Oddly, one of the windows was originally installed inside out, with the faceted glass facing outside rather than into the house. Today all the panels, including the central waterfall design, will be visible from inside.

Other Crescent Park homes on the tour include:

* a 1928 Colonial Revival home designed by Leslie Nichols, with a center stair hall, leaded-glass, keystone trim repeated throughout and an octagonal-shaped breakfast room;

* a 1929 French Eclectic/Italian Renaissance Revival home also designed by Leslie Nichols, with a hipped slate roof, circular foyer that repeats the ceiling light pattern; much detail in stucco, wood and glass (don't miss the canvas mural with a pastoral scene above an interior door);

* a 1909 eclectic home with Colonial Revival, Craftsman and Prairie-style features, including a dining room with coffered ceiling, oak flooring with mahogany inlay, deep baseboards, screened porch, coved ceilings, picture rail and more;

* a 1916 home designed by architect Charles Sumner as an interpretation of an English manor, with a formal feel, separation of private and public spaces and ample room for entertaining. Interesting touches include original quarter-sawn oak floors, leaded-glass windows, built-in arched bookcases backed by beadboard;

* Squire House — John Adams Squire, a lecturer in Classics at Stanford, built his 7,000-square-foot mansion for $18,000 in 1904, designed by San Francisco architect T. Paterson Ross. Highlights: formal wood-clad Classic Roman Revival house, with palm-lined drive and fluted redwood columns; huge living room with mahogany mantel; widow's walk on roof.

READ MORE ONLINE

For more Home and Real Estate news, visit www.paloaltoonline.com/real_estate.

What: Palo Alto Stanford Heritage (PAST) 25th Annual Holiday House Tour

When: Sunday, Dec. 9, 1 to 4 p.m.

Where: six homes in Crescent Park; addresses provided with tickets

Cost: $30

Info: www.pastheritage.org; to order by mail, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope with check payable to PAST Heritage, P.O. Box 308, Palo Alto, CA 94302.

Associate Editor Carol Blitzer can be emailed at cblitzer@paweekly.com.

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