Pleasanton Weekly

News - October 28, 2011

Peters Avenue house to be recognized

First Architectural Heritage Award for New Construction

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The Pleasanton Heritage Association is giving its first Architectural Heritage Award for New Construction to Emil and Marjorie Oxsen for their home on Peters Avenue in Pleasanton's historic downtown district. The New Construction Award is for new homes that are true to the historic character of Pleasanton's downtown district.

The Oxsens built their house from "Kilbourne" plans in a 1921 Sears and Roebuck catalogue, adapting them for a modern lifestyle and to fit the lot. The bungalow-style house is 1,200 square feet with two bedrooms, a formal dining room and a laundry room.

"I was limited to how big a house could be built on the lot," Emil Oxsen said.

He explained that, in order to use the lot they'd purchased on Peters Avenue, they moved the kitchen from the rear of the house to the front, next to the living room.

Oxsen said the Sears house in 1921 cost $2,700, which included shipping the materials -- from the ceiling joists to the hardwood floors -- along with the plans.

"You only had to put it together," Oxsen explained. "Mine was built from scratch. I had a local architect draw up floor plans and do engineering to meet codes and so forth."

The Oxsens are both Pleasanton natives and graduated from Amador Valley High School. Emil's grandfather built several buildings on Main Street; Marjorie is a former student of Amador tennis legend, Don Anger.

Years ago, the couple built an old-fashioned, 3,600-square-foot Victorian style house on Neal Street, east of downtown, where they raised their family.

The Oxsens moved to the Peters Avenue home in 2004 and spent much time in salvage yards searching for hardware and lighting appropriate to a 1920s-vintage bungalow, as well as appropriate wallpaper. They are still working on the ceiling in the dining room.

"It's just taken time," Oxsen commented.

They love living downtown and walk to Main Street almost every night, plus they enjoy the historic appeal of their home.

"When I'm in my garden in the front, people are amazed that the house is only 6 years old," Oxsen said.

The Architectural Heritage Award will be presented at the Oxsen house at 370 Peters Ave. at 4 p.m. tomorrow.

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