Fall Real Estate 2002

Publication Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Old vs. new
How does a 100-year-old house compare with a new one -- or one in between?

by Carol Blitzer

An unusual real-estate opportunity cropped up in Palo Alto this month, with one of the oldest houses in town coming on the market, a 107-year-old home that is on the Palo Alto Historic Registry. The house was built on Middlefield Road, but was moved in 1905 to its present location at 640 Fulton St.

In the early '90s, owner Dennis Starkovich added a master bedroom with a balcony to the second story and updated the kitchen. In the process, he saved as much of the original as he could, reusing the bricks from the old fireplace in the new walkway in front of the house. He also kept all the windows and doors, as well as the front porch with its spindle railing.

"We're proud of what we did, keeping it in its style," said Starkovich.
Just a few blocks away SummerHill Homes has endeavored to keep some similar homes in their style. The developer moved several turn-of-the-century houses to their new locations on Channing Avenue and Bryant Street. All were placed on new foundations, with below-grade living spaces added.

While the exteriors remain historically correct, the insides were gutted and completely updated. The home at 918 Bryant St., for example, features Olde Boarde American walnut wood floors on the main level, and the kitchen has high-end features to entrance a gourmet cook - a Wolf range, KitchenAid ovens and dishwasher and Sub-Zero refrigerator.

The master bedroom is located in the basement, with glass doors opening to a landscaped private patio. There's air conditioning throughout.

Buyers are beginning to ask for air conditioning in new homes, said Hal Nelson, of Nelson Realty, Menlo Park. His firm is introducing a new home in west Menlo Park with state-of-the-art wiring and high-end appliances.

"There's nothing of its equivalent. The quality and craftsmanship in this price range is more equivalent to $3 million," he said.

A couple of miles -- and another school district -- away in Palo Alto, a new home offers similar features. "For the price, they're getting top-of-the-line amenities, including slab granite, crown moldings, custom-made cabinets, high-end appliances," said Christina Luiz, of the Cashin Company.

Where: 640 Fulton St., Palo Alto
When built: 1895
Size: 2,136 square feet on 4,335-square-foot lot; 3 bedrooms, 3 baths
Details: Master bedroom with balcony added upstairs in the early 1990s; many original features, including moldings around doors, redwood pocket door, plaster rosettes in ceilings, claw-foot tub and pedestal sink; kitchen updated in ?????; front porch
Unusual features: Built-in speakers in many rooms, with stereo in living room; bricks that were originally in the fireplace were reused on the entry walkway; back-yard deck and hot tub
Cost: $1,600,000??????

Where: 918 Bryant St., Palo Alto
When built: 1904, renovated 2002
Size: 3,012 square feet on 5,281-square-foot lot; 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths
Details: Gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances; master bath with marble floors, tile counters; air conditioning throughout; CAT-5 wiring
Unusual features: Some original windows; modern take on pedestal sink in half bath; master bedroom in basement, with doors opening to landscaped patio; shared driveway
Cost: $1,950,000

Where: 2023 Liberty Park Ave., Menlo Park
When built: new
Size: 2,377 square feet on 5,122-square-foot lot; 4 bedrooms, 3 baths
Details: Cherry cabinets, granite slab counter tops, high-end appliances; breakfast nook, oak floors, Jacuzzi tub, high ceilings, skylights, CAT-5 wiring, air conditioning, fully landscaped
Unusual features: Ship-lap siding, traditional style, large storage areas, hot-water re-circulating system.
Cost: $1,665,000

Where: 639 Ashton Ave., Palo Alto
When built: new
Size: 2,300 square feet on 6,350-square-foot lot; 4 bedrooms, 3 baths
Details: Eat-in kitchen, dining room, master bedroom with walk-in closet, hardwood floors, air conditioning
Cost: $1,575,000