Dunsmuir Historic Estate
Built by Alexander Dunsmuir, son of a wealthy British Columbia coal baron, this historic 50-acre estate is one of Oakland's unsung highlights. Dunsmuir had the house built in 1899 as a wedding gift for his wife, Josephine; but on the couple's honeymoon in New York, Alexander took ill and died. Josephine lived in the house for fewer than two years before her own death. The estate was purchased by banker I.W. Hellman Jr. in 1906; his family held the property until the early 1960s, when it was purchased by the City of Oakland.House tours begin at the quaint Dinkelspiel House, built for the Hellmans' daughter Florence in the early 1930s. The long driveway to the mansion leads through a meadow landscaped in part by John McLaren, best known for his work in Golden Gate Park. A new pavilion above the meadow is a venue for concerts, lectures and other special events.The centerpiece of the estate is Dunsmuir House. The 37-room mansion was built in Neoclassical Revival style by San Francisco architect J. Eugene Freeman, who adapted Georgian and Federal styles with symmetrical facades, hipped or gabled roofs and Palladian windows. Embracing more than 16,000sq ft in three stories, the house presents a Tiffany-style dome, 10 fireplaces and inlaid parquet floors.Roads lead south beyond the mansion to a historic farm area. Of note is the Carriage House, with mahogany-paneled walls and wrought-iron horse feeders.