Cottage Renovation a Family Affair


The fourth building-preservation award presented at the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society’s gala on May 23 went to a Queen Ann cottage, built in 1889 at 1206 Ninth Street. The home was bought in 1904 by the grandfather of current-owner Susan Ironside. She became its owner in 2010, when her mother died.

“Thus began the current project with a simple desire to improve the downstairs unit and replace the stairs,” said Jerri Holan, an architect and award presenter. To prove the unit was legal, Ironside had to find the original 1915 building permit her grandfather used to build out the basement, which she found at the county assessor’s office. After that, Susan worked with McNeil Construction on extensive renovation.

“The cottage has been completely upgraded and brought into the 21st Century,” Holan shared. This entailed gutting the basement, replacing the brick foundation and doing a seismic retrofit.

Next, Susan’s son Dean put in a solar-power system for the water heater and a radiant-floor hydronic heating system. In addition, the family redid the front stairs.

“Using an old family photo of Susan’s along with some of the original balustrade, they recreated the wooden stairs … With custom iron handrails as a finishing touch, the stairs are truly a piece of craftsmanship. We’re certain they would meet the high standards of Dean’s Swedish great grandfather,” Holan explained.

(Photo courtesy of Jerri Holan, FAIA).

Janet Levaux