The house that turned into a prune
Saturday August 14th 2021, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Life

There is a single-family home in Silicon Valley that’s actually under a million.┬áIt was surely a part of the area’s plum and apricot orchard past. No heat, no air conditioning, apparently no sewer nor septic nor running water, the front steps, porch, and the roof hanging over them are actively caving in, and they do not show you the inside.


The listing says its city says it’s historical. I think that ‘built in 1998’ is a deliberate typo to try to avoid attention and having it become officially registered as such, because it’s not on the city’s formal list yet and I’m sure the sellers and presumably future buyers are quite happy to keep it that way. This house was built by hand, board by board, it was lived in, it was loved, and my dad’s friend’s stepdad painted such things in his day. But in its third century it is emphatically a tear down. Ash wood to ashes, dusting to dust.

That stepdad was William Henry Clapp, who did Impressionist paintings in Paris with Claude Monet and then came home to Oakland to continue his work.

Some of the fruit trees showing in Street View appear to have been ripped out since, and that’s a shame, because that was the one good thing about the property.

But man. 863 feet. A 7649′ lot that backs up to the busiest commercial thoroughfare in the city. $749k.

I can imagine the photographer not quite daring to walk inside nor putting his weight on those boards.

I still want to know how it looked like to live in it, back in the day. What did the cabinets look like? The stove? Whether the oven was like Great Aunt Edna’s on Richard’s side, whom we visited in Idaho as newlyweds, who still had her mother’s big iron wood-burning range from when the railroad came through and totally made their pioneer town. Her family had water rights so the train tracks were brought their way.

She would reach her hand inside the oven to tell if it was the right temp for baking the bread yet. She crowed to us that when there was a power failure, all her neighbors knew they could still cook and bake over at her house. And did. She teased them for going all fancy and putting in those electrical ones that did all the work, even measuring the heat (which she could do as well as any machine known to kitchens) but which don’t work when you need warmth the most against a cold winter’s day.

Somebody’s Aunt Edna, by whatever name, lived in this little house, once.

Where it did not snow.

But the railroad was near enough to ship their dried fruit out into the world beyond.

1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

Whoever used to live there would love that you’re able to see and share what once was.

Comment by Jayleen Hatmaker 08.15.21 @ 6:25 am

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>