Real Estate

Past perfect

A rare Queen Anne home retains grace and charm, with modern updates

The 1893 Queen Anne home in College Terrace is a historical gem, and it just might have found the right owner.

Realtor Ken DeLeon thought he was that owner when he purchased the property in 2012 for his family, which includes four children. The roomy home, with about 3,300 square feet, sits gracefully on nearly 20,000 square feet of land. Although the property is large, it fits comfortably among its neighbors, screened from the street by greenery.

No drapes are really required to cover the shimmery, original glass windows.

When he decided to fix up the home, DeLeon tapped into his Realty company's resources, which include company interior designers and contractors. The "goal was to tastefully update, but keep with the period," he said.

Previous owners -- who included Walter Miller, a Latin professor at Stanford, followed by the mayor of Mayfield -- kept the home in reasonably good repair, DeLeon said. An earlier family had redone the upstairs bathroom about 25 years ago, which "was ahead of its time" and earned kudos from Sunset Magazine. With the room's marble counter, curved glass-block shower wall and deep tub, one would never know it wasn't part of the recent remodel.

While keeping the crown moldings, many original light fixtures, carved moldings around the doors, numerous double pocket doors and hardwood floors, DeLeon mainly focused his changes on the kitchen. Today, a white quartz island sits in the middle; white quartz was also used as countertops throughout the kitchen, which sports a farmer's sink, six-burner Wolf range and side-by-side Sub-Zero refrigerator. The floor is tiled in Porcelanosa Carrara porcelain, and the backsplash is cloudy glass subway tile.

The kitchen segues into a dining room with a crystal chandelier, which in turn easily flows into the "grand" foyer with its "here-comes-the-bride" staircase, parlor and family room. The latter contains a fireplace and is separated from the parlor by pocket doors.

"The high ceilings and windows were a big draw for me," DeLeon said, pointing to the 10-and-a-half-foot ceilings and bay windows. One alcove extends to the second floor, following the shape of the rounded cupola outside.

And those pocket doors were very useful back in 1893, DeLeon added, noting that they allowed the family to close off the parlor while staying warm around the fireplace in the adjacent room.

A wide porch wraps around the front and side of the home, offering another opportunity to enjoy the landscaping. A stone-paved terrace, complete with koi pond, provides the setting for an entertainment area.

There are five bedrooms upstairs, each with high ceilings and windows that allow one to look out on the grassy side- and backyards and the ancient oak near the newly built three-car garage. DeLeon also cleaned up the entry walkway, matching the stones, and added pavers leading to the garage. New fencing surrounds the property, a nod to keeping the place safer for small children.

A full basement -- with windows -- has been transformed into a finished apartment (with a private entrance), along with wine and other storage areas. The attic offers even more storage opportunities.

Just days after going on the market, close to 600 people had already toured the home at 2275 Amherst St. during two open-house weekends; a few indicated enough interest to pick up an information packet.

Acknowledging that it was challenging to come up with "comparables" to price the home, DeLeon said that "It's its own market" and imagined someone from the East Coast or San Francisco would appreciate its "unique" qualities -- and not expect a home on Palo Alto's Historic Building Inventory to be "smart" or energy-efficient, given its lack of double-paned windows or insulation.

Associate Editor Carol Blitzer can be emailed at

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