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7 Bedrooms | 5.5 Baths | 6,479 Sq Ft.
Colonial Revival Style Mansion Built by the Milwain Brothers, architects for the Ghirardelli Family
Built for the Ghirardelli family in the early 1900's, this magnificent home boasts 7 bedrooms, five and one half baths, includes a private guest house above the two-car garage. Impressive architectural details, elegant windows and attractive box beam ceilings appoint each room. Grand public rooms and the expansive gourmet kitchen with center-island make entertaining a delight. The entire home is surrounded by lovely, lush gardens and gorgeous rose bushes. Situated in central Piedmont and conveniently located to Piedmont's top-rated schools, K-12, the Piedmont Community Center, Piedmont Community Church, Mulberry’s Market, Piedmont City Hall, Piedmont Fire and Police Departments as well as public transportation; this home has it all -- convenience, elegance and history.
One of the most fascinating aspects in doing historical research is discovering something new about the past. Shortly after the Piedmont Historical Society published the first photo from its collection a second photo came to light. Both show two different renditions of the home at 636 Highland Avenue.
A recent trip to the Ghirardelli exhibit at the Museo Italo-Americo revealed some interesting details about Thomas Cushing and Ellen and Carmen Ghirardelli and may explain why they remodeled their home so soon after it was built.
Thomas Cushing was described as an heir from Santa Barbara. He and Ellen married in 1909 and Carmen had her debut in 1913.
The Mission Revival style of the earlier house was popular from about 1895 to 1915 and was just starting to go out of style in 1909 when the Cushing’s married. As heirs to the Ghirardelli chocolate company and Santa Barbara fortune, they were able to remodel the home to the newer Colonial Revival Style.
Ellen and Thomas had just married and Carmen was just about to have her debut; either of these events could have influenced the Cushing’s decisions to remodel. In 1911, Ellen Ghirardelli took out a building permit for the house. The new construction raised the assessed value from $4,000 to $6300. While construction was underway the family moved around the corner to 29 Sierra Avenue. They returned to their home in 1912.
Reprinted from the Piedmont Historical Society Collection – republished in the Piedmont Post February 1st, 2000. Source: Gail Lombardi, Historian
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Piedmont, a two-square-mile city within the borders of Oakland, was incorporated in 1907 and was known then as “The City of Millionaires” because there were more millionaires per square mile residing there than in any other U.S. city. Today, their large, estate-like homes are still standing in the heart of Piedmont, reminding residents of its glitzy past. Homes in Piedmont range from those estate-like homes in central Piedmont with expansive grounds to more modest homes on the edges of town. Well-manicured landscapes prevail and the city’s stringent permitting guidelines ensure all of the homes maintain their original flavor. The commercial area of town is small, featuring several banks and one gas station. Mulberry’s Market, a specialty food store with ready-made meals, caters to gourmet taste buds and is the frequent morning coffee stop for parents and after-school hot spot for kids. Piedmont’s proximity to Oakland’s many big-city amenities ensures Piedmonters will not miss out on the latest restaurants or first-run movies. The sense of community is strong, as witnessed by the large turnout for the annual Fourth of July parade that happens each year down Highland Avenue. The Piedmont Recreation Center offers a central gathering place for residents. Available for rental, it is the frequent setting for community events and parties. The beautiful grounds provide a wonderful place to hang out and play, and the wooded trail connecting the Center to the high school is the best place to take your dog to play. A casual carpool zone on Oakland Avenue, along with proximity to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District buses, offer workers convenient commute options. Pride in community involvement and village living are just a few of the reasons people love to live in Piedmont.