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- Sam Whiting
Sunday, July 29, 2001

In 2002 the city of Oakland will celebrate its 150th birthday, and to stay ahead of the sesquicentennial shuffle, now is the time to visit the Pardee Home Museum, downtown.

This week restoration of the formal front garden should be completed, and the Victorian estate will look as good as, or better than, it did when completed in 1868.

The house, with 60,000 artifacts, is an ornate tribute to Enoch H. Pardee, who came west for the Gold Rush. Because he had the foresight to give up mining and become an eye doctor practicing in San Francisco, Pardee prospered, rising to become mayor of Oakland and a state assemblyman and senator. His son George did exactly what his dad did, and trumped him by becoming governor of California in 1903 and earning praise as "The Earthquake Governor."

Everything acquired by father and son, and most prominently by Helen Pardee,

the governor's art-collecting wife, is still in the house. Pardee Home is on the National Register of Historic Places, and both a California and Oakland landmark. But a large portion of natives on the other side of the bay have, frankly, never heard of it.

Too bad, because it is the centerpiece of the Preservation Park Historic District, a cluster of Victorians that were moved in to keep the Pardee Home company.

The house itself was saved in the 1970s, when everything else was torn down for redevelopment or to make way for Interstate 980, which cuts through Oakland. As it is, Pardee is just off 980 at the 11th Street exit. It's four blocks from the 12th Street BART station through Preservation Park.

In the middle of urbania, it's a semirural oasis, nearly a square block and surrounded by a wooden fence. An intact estate, the Pardee Home could easily seem isolated in the turn of the last century if it weren't for the hum of the freeway.

Pardee Home Museum, 672 11th St., Oakland. Guided tours are at noon Fridays and Saturdays, or by reservation. Admission is $5. Call (510) 444-2187, or visit www.pardeehome.org.


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