Activities & Resources
Dunsmuir Historic Estate050in Oakland, CA 94605
about Dunsmuir Historic Estate:
The 37-room mansion was built by Alexander Dunsmuir, who came to the Bay Area in 1878. The son of Robert Dunsmuir, a wealthy coal baron from Victoria, British Columbia, Alexander oversaw the family business in San Francisco. The house features a Tiffany-style dome, wood-paneled public rooms, 10 fireplaces, and inlaid parquet floors within its 16,224 square feet. Servants' quarters in the house are designed to accommodate 12 live-in staff.
When Alexander purchased the large estate in the rolling East Bay foothills, the land featured fruit orchards, farms, and vestiges of the Spanish rancho days. The elegant mansion was built as a wedding gift for his beloved Josephine in December 1899. Tragically, Alexander became ill and died while in New York on their honeymoon. Josephine returned alone to her new home where she resided until her death in 1901.
In 1906, the estate was bought by I.W. Hellman Jr., who worked for Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco, as a summer home for his family. They dubbed their estate Oakvale Park. By 1913, the mansion was remodeled to accommodate the growing Hellman family and their acquisitions from European travels.
Golden Gate Park's landscape architect, John McLaren, is said to have assisted the Hellmans in designing the Dunsmuir gardens. The estate stayed in the Hellman family until the late 1950's. The City of Oakland acquired the estate in the early 1960s and the site has since been declared a National Historic Landmark.