Alameda resident Jerry Wagner celebrated Flag Day this year in style: “We hung out a large 44-star flag to honor the country and Alameda’s many Victorian homes,” he said.
Wagner lives on Central Avenue in a Julia Morgan-designed house that dates back to 1910. The flag now flying outside his residence, though, dates back to the 1890s.
The United States included 42 states through 1889. The following year, both Idaho and Wyoming joined the country. And there were 44 stars on the U.S. flag until Utah joined in 1896.
Wagner, who is president of Ibis Software Company, said that each of the 44 stars on the flag is handstiched. The flag is about 8 feet wide and 14 feet long.
It is one of 25 U.S. and California flags that were up in the attic when he bought the home about a year ago.
Most of the flags in the collection appear to be U.S. Capitol flags that were flown in Washington, D.C., and then passed onto constituents by members of the U.S. Congress, says Wagner.
He flies his historic flags outside on a flag pole that once was part of the E.F. Hutton building in San Francisco. “That building was torn down in the 1970s, I believe, so the pole has probably been part of the home in Alameda since then,” the home owner and associate member of the Alameda Elks Lodge said.
The residence also contained some interesting items from the historic Fox Theater in Oakland, including a large tapestry and several decorative columns, which Wagner placed in his hallway and downstairs “movie theater.”
As for his own collecting, Wagner plans to fill the attic with Lionel Standard Gauge Trains from the late 1920s and early 1930s. “These are about two times the traditional size,” he said. Like the large flags that frequently fly outside his Alameda home, Wagner enjoys “living large” on the Island.