The Darker Side of Dickens

The Victorian Preservation Association presents “The Darker Side of Dickens”. You are all familiar with Dickens’s homey Christmas stories, but did you know that Charles Dickens wrote some darker and more gothic tales?

The VPA invites you to attend a reading of Dickens’s darker side on Friday, October 27. 2018. Doors open at 7:00pm and the program will begin at 7:30pm. The event will take place at the American Legion at 1504 Minnesota Ave. in San Jose. Tickets for the performance will be $25 for Front Row VIP seats and $20 for general admission. Refreshments will also be available for purchase at the event. See below on how to purchase tickets.

This event is a fund-raiser for the VPA. Victorian garb encouraged!

Portraying Charles Dickens will be Robert Young. If you’ve ever visited the Dickens Fair in San Francisco, you likely will have met him. He has been playing Mr. Dickens and amazing audiences for over 20 years.
Robert grew up in a musical family – his mother a violinist, his sister a pianist. They made sure he was exposed to performance art of all sorts. His mother placed him in his first theatrical production at the age of four. Being the lead Candy Cane was a revelation.

He reflects that it was the excellent teachers and mentors throughout high school and college that lead him to the stage door. Like most serious theater students, his training under their guidance included speech, oral interpretation, voicing, acting, music and dance – the body as multidimensional instrument.

Right out of college, Robert discovered improv–coupled with historical reenactment–and was smitten. He is most inspired by the opportunity to breathe life into historical writing, whether it be Shakespeare, Dickens, Dylan Thomas, great poetry, right through to modern playwrights who are saying what we need to hear – putting before us what we need to see.

You can have your cake, and eat it too!

A recent Ace Rewards mailing included some info and a $5 discount card for a new style of lightbulb. Well, a new interpretation of one anyways and it has me pretty excited.

Ever since energy conservation became a big issue, we’ve struggled with the aesthetics of energy efficient light bulbs in our historic fixtures.

First to hit the market were those curly tubed fluorescents, which not only were too large to fit some of our antique shades, but they were ugly to look at, and put out a very cold white light. Improvements over time allowed them to be made smaller, and they enclosed the tubing in a round white shell to make them look more like frosted bulbs, but even the warm fluorescents tend to put out a cold white light than incandescent bulbs.

Then came the switch to LED lights for even more energy savings, but they had some of the same problems initially, they were large, ugly, and the light was too cool. Again over time, progress was made, and I had finally found a few that I could tolerate.

I had seen vendors of the old Edison style light bulbs, but they were expensive, didn’t put out efficient light, and of course, just like other incandescent bulbs, they could have a short lifespan. (with the exception of this one).

What the Ace Hardware flier was advertising was an LED bulb that looked a lot like the old style Edison filament bulbs. I was cautious and bought two of them for the ceiling fixture in my home office. Now I wish I had bought more since with the coupon they were $6.99 each (normally $11.99 each).

The packaging says they are a 60 watt replacement, but they only use 4 watts. I wouldn’t say they are as bright as a 60W incandescent bulb, but they are perfect to give the room a nice warm glow. The light they product is very warm, as the glass shell itself has an amber hue to it.

I plan to replace all of the visible bulbs in the house with these. An added benefit is that they are dimmable, a feature many fluorescents and other LEDs don’t have. They are made by Feit in a variety of styles and base sizes.

New Web Site Design

The VPA web site was first designed in 1996 by Matt Knowles of Aesthetic Design & Photography, who was at that time a VPA member restoring a 1914 Bungalow in San Jose. In the almost 2 decades since, the site has gone through three major redesigns as HTML and computers continue to evolve.

Since we no longer use just desktop and laptop computers to view web sites, Matt just completed the fourth major redesign of the VPA web site. The major goal was to make it work better with phones and tablets, as well as traditional computers. With this update, the entire web site was imported into WordPress, since we were already using WordPress for the blog. Having the entire web site in WordPress makes it much easier for non-techies to post updates.

We’ve also added a new calendar page to make it easy to add both VPA events as well as other events of interest to VPA members.

The web site now features an elegant responsive design, using colors inspired by the Victorian palette. A nice combination of new and old.

Once a few more backend tasks are completed, Matt will be opening it up for members to add more info about their own homes, as well as write articles for the blog. For now, take a look at the page about Matt & Lori’s homes to get some idea of what you can do.

Victorian Alliance 41st Anniversary Fall House Tour

The Victorian Alliance of San Francisco is pleased to announce its 41st Anniversary Fall House Tour. Interiors of seven beautiful Victorian Homes in the mission district “Mansion Row” will be open to the public for touring on Sunday, October 20, from 1:00PM to 5:00PM.

These exceptional 1890’s private residences representing Queen Anne, Italianate, and Stick style architecture have retained their 19th century elegance with their curves , towers and balconies, highlighted by the whimsical ornamentation of renowned architects such as Henry Geilfuss, Julius Kraft, and Peter Schmidt. Docents will be on hand to provide an extensive historical background on each house’s architect, contractor, craftsmen and the families who settled there.

All residences lie within a relatively flat, compact and walkable area, well served by public transportation. Several murals for which the Mission District is famous can be admired on the walk between houses. Comfortable dress and shoes are recommended and note that home visits require stair climbing. A wonderful Bed and Breakfast Inn and charming garden on the tour offer an intermission where complimentary light refreshments reward tour guests.

All net proceeds benefit the Preservation Grant Fund of The Victorian Alliance, San Francisco’s oldest all-volunteer, not-for-profit architectural preservation and education organization. Visit our website for a list of beneficiaries.

Tickets are $50.

Va Home tour house 1

Va Home tour house 2

Va Home tour house 3

Queen Anne Victorian

Victorian Home Trade Show

August 15, 2013

When: Sept. 29, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Where: Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, CA
Cost: $10 entrance fee in advance, $15 at the door

Contact: Brittany Thompson
Phone: (415) 474 – 4435



SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — More than 1,000 Victorian homeowners, antiques enthusiasts, artists and tradesmen will gather at the Fort Mason Center Sept. 29 for the first annual Victorian Home Trade Show, an event dedicated to the history, restoration, decoration and building of Victorian homes. The show promises attendees a glimpse into the rich history of one of the city’s most recognizable icons, and a look at the future of ecologically sustainable Victorian homes. “There are no new Victorians getting built,” said realtor Bonnie Spindler, San Francisco Victorian specialist and event organizer, of the show’s importance. “These special buildings are becoming rare like an old coin and should be preserved and cared for. Victorians are well-crafted homes, intended for entertaining and to be lived in.”

Visitors will be invited to attend lectures by restoration and decoration experts and browse vender booths. For a $10 entrance fee, Victorian homeowners, historians and the simply curious can learn from the best in the business about the rich history of the distinctive homes that line the streets of the city, and meet craftsmen who can help maintain them into the 21st century.

Mike Odynski of clean energy company SolarCity will explain to Victorian homeowners how they can switch to clean energy while maintaining the authenticity
of their historic homes.

Victorian homeowners can join the overwhelming majority of Americans who support the use of solar energy. A 2012 surveyconducted by Hart Research for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) found 92 percent of those polled feel it is important to use solar energy, a number backed up by the rapidly increasing installations of solar panels in the U.S. each year.

While some preservationists have labeled the push for energy conservation as a death sentence for old houses due to the potential expense of green renovation, Odynski and others committed to protecting San Francisco’s historic homes will show Victorian owners how they too can be a part of the green movement.

By switching to solar energy their occupants can ensure these houses remain homes for the city’s residents — not relics.

The event is sure to draw a crowd, as the market for home renovation and décor continues to grow. Industry analysts estimate sales will continue to
grow — market research group Mintel expects home décor sales to reach $38.6 billion in 2016, up 27 percent from 2011.

The Victorian Home Trade Show is sponsored in part by the Victorian Alliance of San Francisco, a not-for-profit organization committed to the preservation and restoration of Victorian and other historic structures. Some other top Trade Show sponsors include Opes Advisors, Cole Hardware, Ohmega Salvage and Zephyr Real Estate.

What Old Houses Have Taught Me

By: Kris Motyka

I was in the back of the line when patience was handed out.  So, I’m not sure if this is an ‘acquired skill’ or if it was always there, waiting to be coaxed out of me.  What I do know is that, if we had to reconstruct that  line today, I would now be in the middle.  Some other person who lives in a brand new house would be in the back.

As incurable ‘old house lovers’, we now have two home restoration projects going on at the same time.  One has been in the making for 12 years and is in southern France.  It is an 800 year old stone farmhouse that was abandoned for over 20 years before we bought it.  The second house, now our home in Santa Clara, had seen its golden years as a single family Queen Anne between 1895 and 1935 before being cut up into two apartments.   We’ve been working on the Victorian for the last seven years.

The accumulated hours of both have finally caught up to us.  We are officially beyond tired.

We spent two weeks in France this September working ‘like crazy people’ friends over there said.   It felt impossible and scarily hopeless.  Hopeless because we couldn’t see the light at the end of the twelve year tunnel.    After the first week we said ‘never again’ will we work this hard in so short a time.  At the end of the trip, we collapsed.  And yet, just as we were on our last legs, the house gave us some much-needed incentive.  Once again, it shared more of its secrets with us and as tired as we were, made us feel a renewed enthusiasm for all the possibilities the future held.  The house charmed us once again.

The farmhouse did this by revealing several of these ‘secrets’ in the middle of our stay, when we began to really drag.  With only four days to go, we realized that in order to put the heating/cooling equipment in the ‘cave’ or cellar, I’d have to empty it of the 18 inches of old straw and ancient rabbit ‘pellets.’  This also meant I had to haul out hundreds of years of farm equipment, doors, etc. that had been stored there for years.  It was an unventilated room and difficult work.  To my surprise, in the middle of this room under all that straw I found a huge round stone with the center hollowed out.  It looked exactly like the ‘mortar’ stones you see on the river banks up in gold country that Native Americans used to crush grain.  I carefully brought it outside and cleaned it off.  The next day, still excited about the stone, I had renewed energy.  On our last day, also in the cellar, I looked for the first time at two large wooden crates with writing stamped in black.  They were filled with old iron farm tools and stuck in the back.  To my surprise, they appeared to be special weapons supply boxes from WWII.  I asked a friend to come and have a look and my suspicion was confirmed – our area of the Languedoc was a well-known French Resistance stronghold.  Our house had helped, in its small way, to fight off the Nazis!

“Restoration Fatigue” is not new.  We’ve all been stricken with it over the years.  What I found myself thinking is that with both of these houses, at critical times of (despair, depleted funds, fatigue) each house has given us something of itself to keep us going – an enticement to continue and not give up.  When we were in this state  a few years ago, our Queen Anne gave up something that we had lost all hope of ever finding – the only picture we have of the woman who built this house.  We found it behind the mantle.   About four or five years ago, the farmhouse did the same thing.  We thought we had gone through everything in the house.  That there was nothing left to learn.  And then, one day, with the sun shining just so on this beam spanning the ceiling, there it was…a hand-carved date of 1769 with the worker’s initials.  In five years we had never noticed it.

Now, when I start to feel the weight and enormity of our projects, I stop and look around.  I breathe.  And then I get back to work, knowing that an old house will be generous with you as long as you are giving and kind in return.  Old houses have taught me something I never thought I’d have… patience.

Stripping Paint from old Hardware

By Alex Cerul
Unless you are extraordinarily lucky the hinges, door plates, window latches and cabinet locks in your house have been painted over several times. They might not work anymore and are certainly not attractive. DO NOT THROW THEM OUT. It is not difficult to remove the paint and restore them. You will be amazed at how beautiful they are once you do this.

To remove them, first use a razor blade utility knife to score and cut through the paint where the item contacts the wood. If you do not, then when you remove the piece the paint will chip all around it and you will have to touch it up. If you carefully cut the outline of the item then you will be able to replace it after cleaning without any further work.

After scoring its contours you have to determine where the screws are. You can usually spot them by either an indentation or a raised bump but you may have to look at other items that are not so heavily painted or make your best guess. The old screws are always slotted (Standard) as opposed to Phillips and this is the good news because they are easier to clean out. Using the tip of your razor blade, clean out the entire slot of the screw. Do a thorough job here because if you leave some paint then your screwdriver cannot make contact with enough of the screw to undo it. If there is paint still in the groove then you risk stripping the screw and then the only way to get it out is to pry it and damage the wood. Take your time here – it is worth it.
When you have a good fit and grip for your screwdriver unscrew it counterclockwise. Push down firmly when you do this. It is a little counterintuitive to push down when you are trying to twist the screw up but this is necessary to keep the screwdriver firmly in the slot. Once all the screws are out, the piece should pop off if you wedge the razor blade behind it.

Stripping the piece is done by letting it soak in a strong solution of TSP and water and scraping, or brushing, the paint off in several sittings each a day apart. I use an old pot (with a lid so there is no evaporation) and roughly 1 part TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate) to 5 parts water. Stir in the TSP until it dissolves. The pieces should be completely submerged and let them sit for at least a full day. You can shake or stir the pot when you pass by if you remember. Sometimes the paint will float right off but usually you have to scrape it. Do not use a razor here, or anything steel for that matter, because you do not want to scratch the piece. Scrapers made of plastic exist and they are best. It may take two or three soakings but soon you will have most of the paint off except for the nooks and crannies. At this point you use an old toothbrush, or at most a brass wire brush, to get the last of the paint off. Do not use a steel wire brush, or a wire wheel attached to a drill or grinder, because they will take the patina off of the piece and leave an unnatural shiny iron color. Thoroughly dry it when you are done. You may spray it with a clear lacquer (comes in spray paint cans) if you want to.

To accelerate this process you can use a crock-pot on its low setting. The heat speeds things up such that you can do it all in three sittings over 24 hours. On a Friday night you start it. Saturday morning take your first shot at getting as much off as possible. Put it all back to soak and then midafternoon give it another go. In the evening you should be able to finish it. Do not forget to wear disposable gloves when doing the actual stripping.

Also, please note, this process is only recommended for solid steel, iron, or brass. It is not recommended for plated items (for example Stanley ball hinges). The TSP tends to get under the plating and discolor portions of the item. I have learned this the hard way. For plated items you will have to use the goopy and more noxious paint strippers.

To reinstall it helps to put a toothpick or two in the old hole so the screws get a firm bite. If you are dealing with door hinges (which really need to be secure) I advise drilling the old hole with a ¼ inch bit and then gluing a piece of ¼ inch hardwood dowel where the hole was so that you have, essentially, restored the wood to new. You will then drill a small pilot hole when replacing the hinge.

Do not throw the old screws away. You might think it is easy to get new ones but you will find out the hard way that this is not so. They don’t make, or sell, a variety of slotted screws like they used to. It is only a little extra effort to clean the screws in the TSP like the parts. And why not? You know they fit perfectly, you would waste more time and money looking for replacements, and purists detest new screws (especially Phillips) in vintage applications. If some of the screws did get a little stripped you can regroove them by clamping them at their threads, between two pieces of wood, and running a hacksaw blade down the slot.

Cleaning up the old hardware makes a huge difference, especially in high visibility areas, and once you do it you will wonder what took you so long.

Getting Rid of Mold on Books

The best way of getting rid of mold is to put the book into a heavy plastic bag and seal it securely so no air or moisture can get in. Then put it in the freezer for a couple of days to a week or two, considering how far gone the infestation is.

When you take the book out, the ‘moldy stuff’ will still be on the book, but it will be dead. Now take a new paintbrush (a cheap one is fine) and just brush off the mold. Sometimes mold will have stained the binding, and the color won’t brush off, but it’s just color.

It takes a while, but it does work – kills the mold but doesn’t harm your book. I’ve done it a number of times.

I’ve been told that if your book still has a smell, put it in another (very dry) bag with a couple of handsful of cornstarch. Seal it up and put it somewhere cool – though not the refrigerator or freezer! – and leave it for as long as it takes for the mold smell to go away. You’ll have to open the bag every few days, remove the book and smell. When it’s clean, get out your paintbrush and brush the cornstarch away. Sometimes, if there’s been just a slight odor, you can get two or three uses from the same cornstarch. If it has an odor, toss it. You don’t want to infect the next book!

Utah and Oklahoma updated, Ratings reset

The historic home museum pages for Utah and Oklahoma have been updated.

Looking at some of the other pages I was noticing that most of the rating were averaging out to 3. I was surprised that houses like Hearst Castle were only rating as a 3, and were receiving the same ratings as some houses which I won’t name, that certainly aren’t on par with such masterpieces as Hearst Castle.

So I looked at the database the rating script uses and it’s apparent that the spiders that the search engines use are now smart enough to follow Javascript links and were voting. Even worse, although the script prevents a user from voting multiple times, it wasn’t preventing spiders from voting multiple times, and they were in fact voting five times, which accounted for the average of 3.

I’ve modified the scrip to include “nofollow” instructions which hopefully will keep the spiders from voting. I’ll keep and eye on it and see. If it doesn’t end up working, I’ll look for a different solution.

Paint Shaver Pro Review

After last year’s fire that I started while heat gunning the exterior of our 1888 Victorian, I started researching alternative methods of paint removal. I had previously stripped the entire exterior of our 1914 bungalow in San Jose without incident. But our current house has blown in insulation which presents a definite fire hazard.

I looked at several different chemical strippers but they were all expensive, time consuming, and messy.

I remembered hearing about the Paint Shaver Pro a few years ago and I had always considered that it must be too good to be true or why would people still be using heat guns or chemicals. Well I started looking for reviews on the Internet and generally they seemed favorable.

The biggest stumbling block is the purchase price. The 6 amp model is $599. But considering that the small fire I started with the heat gun cost me more than that to fix, well it was a no-brainer. Especially since I got away very lucky with the fire and caught it early.

I tried getting a used one off of Ebay but they always ended up going for close to the new price so I finally just ordered it from their web site. I received it about 10 days later. I just went with the 6 amp model, and none of the accessories. The blades last a long time and several Ebay auctions I saw people were selling lots of extra blades they never ended up using.

The biggest difference other than price between the 6 amp and 8 amp models is that they say with the 8 amp model you don’t need to sink any exposed nails. Well I’ve hit a few nails with my 6 amp model and it doesn’t seem to create much of a problem, not even nicking the blades.

I used a couple of boards that were going to be removed to practice on. Once I got started I couldn’t believe how fast it really went. In one day I easily finished stripping the south side of the house. Using the heat gun it would have taken me at least a week or more, plus a lot of electricity. There were a few areas that it couldn’t get into, mostly because of the exhaust vent, but I can sand those small remaining areas.

The shaver can leave some circular marks but they sand out easy. It’s a lot easier sanding the redwood without having to go through all the layers of paint.

I have v-rustic siding so it still leaves the groove that needs to be stripped. A previous owner caulked all of the joints which was a really stupid thing to do so I’m still spending a lot of time removing the paint and caulking from the v grooves, but it’s still progressing a lot faster than the section I did last year.

The fact that I haven’t had to call my fire department out this summer was an extra bonus. It’s embarrassing when you’re a fireman to have to call out your own department to extinguish a fire you started.

Updates to museum index

I’ve recently added the new pages for Alabama, Alaska and California to the house museum database. I’m still working on loading photos for the California page.

It took a full day to load the data for California. So if anyone wants to help reduce the burden, please contact me at and I’ll let you know how you can help.

Hill House Grand Opening

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Hill House Public Grand Opening

Grand Opening festivities were Sunday, July 25 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM in San Jose History Park at 1650 Senter Road, San Jose CA 95112. There was a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 PM.

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House Museum Database

In addition to installing the blog software, I’ve also been busy working on a long overdue update to the Historic House Museum section. For a long time I’ve wanted to get the museum information into a database to make it easier to maintain. I’ve started working on the programming of it.

The biggest chore is going to be entering the existing data into the database. I’ve done two states so far, Alaska and Arkansas. You can take a look at those pages to see the new layout.

In addition to providing more complete address information, major new features include the ability to rank museums you’ve visited, and a small thumbnail of the museum.

Once all 50 states are done, there will be a search page added that will allow you to search by style or year built as well.

If you would like to pick a state and help with the conversion process, please contact Matt at the email address below.

The Blog is up

Our webmaster Matt Knowles has installed a WordPress blog for the VPA web site. Members are invited to write articles, post photos or other content that would be of interest to our group.

In order to post content in the blog, you will need to be a current VPA member and then contact Matt and he will set up a user id for you.


The Roses are Reappearing

9 years ago when we moved to Ferndale we thought that since our house sits on Rose Ave, that we should plant the 15o foot long front exposure with rose bushes. We bought 13 rose bushes, some Cecil Brunner and some Gertrude Jekyll.

Within days we discovered one of the major differences between gardening in San Jose and gardening in Ferndale. Deer. While we were at the nursery picking out the roses, we also bought 3 apple trees and 3 blueberry bushes. The deer demolished all of those in a matter of weeks.

The roses barely survived, but after our yard started repeatedly flooding we had to do something to prevent that and while that work was going on, we transplanted the roses to the back yard.

We built a concrete retaining wall and then started building a trellis fence on top of that. It’s still not finished but it’s at the point where we can start growing the roses up on part of it. So we started moving some of the remaining Cecil Brunner roses back to the front yard.

I can’t wait until June to see our lovely arbor entrance in bloom.

Rose Trellis

Hill House Soft Opening

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Hill House Opening for Members

What a lovely afternoon that was at the Hill House! Members old and new gathered on the back lawn and shared a tasty potluck in the sunshine and fresh air while the Anaglypta
Brothers wowed everyone with their musical prowess moving some to join them as backup singers.

Inside the house, everyone could see the remarkable progress that has been made this past year… the walls have all been painted and wallpapered, the floors and all the wood trim is in place and gleaming with a finish that made a few people express how they
wished their woodwork could look so good.

The front parlor and dining room had carpets laid, furniture in, and in the dining room, the table was beautifully set ready for tea.

The front bedroom is stunning with the bedroom set assembled. Even the missing marble tops mysteriously appeared (were created in faux by Bill Glick). The stenciled frieze matched perfectly with the dusky rose walls.

The bathroom looked great. Down the hall Andrew’s studio had the appearance that the man himself would return at any moment to begin work on the easel.

The exhibit room was full to overflowing as members had a chance to view the historical photographs on the wall. The vintage mannequin was dressed in an late 1800’s Ladies
Wrapper. This was considered a “house dress”. The two display cases boasted a collection of Victorian jewelry, fans, buttons, and postcards.

The kitchen finally has the stove that has been patiently housed in Steve Padnos’ garage all these past nine years.

Outside, there was a celebration going on… a celebration of friendship and completion.
Everywhere you looked you could see the love, care and attention that VPA members have put into the houses restoration. I am so proud of everyone who worked, helped, supported and contributed. Together we have created a legacy and made some history of our own.

Thank you all!

VPA President

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Christmas Party 2007

The VPA’s member’s only Holiday party was held at the Frick Mansion in Santa Clara. Over seventy VPA members converged to celebrate the holidays. A good time was had by all.

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Hill House is decorated for the Holidays

On Sunday November 12th, eleven VPA members gathered at the Hill House to decorate the house for History Park’s upcoming Holiday events. Thanks go out to:
Liz & Megan Winslow, Liz Mallory, Diana Tone-Adams, Jane & David Guinther, Miranda von Stockhausen, and the Shukait family.

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Hill Exhibit Installed

On Sunday November 12th, eleven VPA members gathered at the Hill House to decorate the house for History Park’s upcoming Holiday events. Thanks go out to:
Liz & Megan Winslow, Liz Mallory, Diana Tone-Adams, Jane & David Guinther, Miranda von Stockhausen, and the Shukait family.

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Afternoon Tea and Victorian Ornaments

On Saturday November 11th, VPA members gathered for an afternoon of tea and making period Victorian ornaments for the tree at the Hill House. At the end of the afternoon, our little tree was covered with pieces of art. Thanks to: Angela Elsey, Liz Mallory, Christna Medina, Elizabeth Eurbach, Kathleen Kirkpatrick, Claudia and Rene Lopez, and Miranda.

Halloween at the Hill House

VPA members handed out treats at the Hill House.

VPA Mini Home Tour

Members of the VPA were treated to a “mini” home tour. This event allows those folks who wish to, to show off their homes to other members of the VPA. Six homes were on the tour. Here’s a few photo’s of our special day.

Antique Autos at the Hill House

The Hill house provided the backdrop for some of the most beautiful refurbished vintage cars in the valley. Hundreds of visitors enjoyed the spectacle, and the VPA was there to greet them all!

Hill House Ready for Decorating

House is handed over to the Decorating and Exhibit teams to be transformed into San Jose History Park’s newest house museum!

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Hill House Basement & Lift

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Ice Cream Social

VPA members gathered at Andrew P. Hill House for an ice cream social.

Christmas Party 2004

This year’s Christmas party was hosted by Walter and Sandra Soellner, and Norman Finnance and Mike Reandeau. It was held at both of the homes, next door to each other.

30th Anniversary Party

The VPA held a 30th Anniversary dinner at the Germania restaurant in downtown San Jose.

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Bruce Bradbury visits the Victorian Preservation Association

Bruce Bradury, owner of Bradbury & Bradbury Wallpapers, was the guest speaker at the meeting held at Miranda and Diana’s home on Sixth St.

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Hill House Sheetrock

Hill House HVAC Installed

Not very glamorous, but entirely functional.

Finished Exterior

The exterior painting is finished. Time to start working indoors.

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The Painting Begins!

The Hill House receives a beautiful 5 color paint job.

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New Porch and Step Railings

Most of the two porches were severely deteriorated or missing and had to be replaced with new construction. The design was pulled from similar vintage homes, since we weren’t able to discover any architectural or photographic proof of what the house had originally.

Winchester Mystery House Christmas Decorations

From 1992 to 1999, the VPA participated in the Winchester Mystery House Christmas Decoration Contest. As you can see from the list below, we did quite well at it. In fact, so well, that in 1996, the WMH folks created a professional category.

In 2000, the management of the Winchester Mystery House announced that they would no longer be holding the Christmas decorating contest. So we went out winners and now the VPA members can concentrate on decorating their own homes for the holidays.

1992 – Sarah’s Bedroom (Second Place)

1993 – Morning Room (First Place)

1994 – Tea Room (First Place)

1995 – Ballroom (First Place)





1996 – Parlor (First Place, Professional Category)



1997 – Ballroom (First Place, Professional Category)




1998 – Sarah’s Bedroom (First Place, Professional Category)







1999 – Kitchen (First Place, Professional Category)






Historical Photos of the Winchester House





Our First Look at the Hill House

We visited the house on its original site on Sherman and got our first tour of the interior. Crazy people that we are, we decide to go ahead and tackle the project anyways.

VPA Christmas Party 2003

This year’s Christmas party was hosted by Miranda Von Stockhausen & Diana Hardick.