Curtis Park home tour features 88-year-old showplace

04/14/2012 12:00 AM

05/01/2012 9:49 AM

On the corner of Franklin Boulevard and Donner Way, the large brick house has stood steadfast amid a world of change. Through its 88 years on its busy street, the stately home has represented stability and timeless quality.

Some homes were just built to last.

"Build of brick and you'll build but once," boasted a 1924 Sacramento Bee advertisement, featuring this local landmark when its mortar was still fresh.

What's it like now as a family home? The public will see April 28 during the 26th annual Curtis Park Home and Garden Tour. The event will showcase seven early 20th century houses, including one converted into a day-care center.

Owned by Broc and Arlene Krause, the brick house will be a featured stop.

"We knew when we bought the house that we probably would be asked (to be on the tour)," said Arlene Krause, who teaches recreational therapy at Sacramento State.

Annually attracting more than 1,000 guests, the tour supports the programs of the Sierra Curtis Neighborhood Association and its activities at the Sierra 2 Community Center.

"We've taken the home tour every year since we moved here," Arlene Krause added. "We enjoy a lot of things at Sierra 2. We appreciate being able to help them."

The Krauses, who previously lived up the block in a smaller home, bought their 2,800-square-foot house four years ago when it unexpectedly came on the market.

Its exterior had changed little in the nearly nine decades since it was lauded by the Sacramento Brick Co. as an uncommon showcase for "common brick." In that 1924 ad, designer H.J. Wygant and builder J.W. Terrell outlined its many "modern" qualities, promising "a brick home is more comfortable in any season of the year, saves countless dollars in fuel, repairs and the percentage of depreciation."

But by 2008, the rear walls were covered with thick ivy. Many of its 55 leaded windows had been painted shut. The interior desperately needed loving care.

Shrouded in mystery as well as foliage, the house developed a reputation. Neighbors called it "the ghost house."

"Several people have told us it was haunted," Arlene Krause said. "But in the four years we've lived here, we've never seen a thing."

Once in their dream house, the Krauses immediately started bringing it back to life. They restored all three bathrooms, matching the original subway tile and installing water-efficient fixtures that fit with their 1920s surroundings.

Rooms are kept cool by a combination of ceiling fans and a whole-house fan. Plexiglass sheets slipped behind the original leaded windows keep out heat, cold and noise. Last year, the Krauses enlarged the cramped kitchen by knocking out a nook wall, but they kept the original flavor with oak butcher-block counters and pierced tin backsplashes.

"We like the old stuff," said Broc Krause, who works for Sutter Health. "We love older homes. (On this house), we didn't do much remodeling, but we did a lot of painting."

"We both like to do home projects," he added. "We're learning as we go. We're getting better at it. A lot of passion went into this house."

The original brick garage has room for his workshop, where he's built cabinets, shelves, bars and other additions to the house. The four-car garage also houses his two other projects: a 1953 Hudson Hornet (which will be on display during the tour) and a 1963 Buick Skylark convertible.

Their daughters – Mae, 9, and Thea, 7 – share one of four airy and bright upstairs bedrooms. A facing bedroom became a colorful playroom.

Both girls like the same things about their house.

"It's big," Thea said.

Added Mae, "It's just really nice – I like it."

A full basement (originally a billiards room) offers more space for play. It's now home to an air hockey table and foosball.

"We spend a lot of time down here in summer," Arlene Krause said. "It's so nice and cool."

The basement also holds a secret – a hidden wine cellar. Tucked behind shelves in a closet, the concealed entrance and cache were constructed during Prohibition.

Throughout the two-story house, oak floors once again shine bright. In warm tones, the interior walls glow with fresh paint and art deco- inspired trim that set off the Krauses' eclectic oak furnishings.

"We look to show our neighborhood's old homes that were cared for in this way," explained Janice Calpo, who scouts locations for the annual tour. "They kept this house the way it was meant to be."

Franklin Boulevard was a fashionable address when this home was built, Calpo said. "People built the biggest, fanciest houses so people could see them."

Now, the Krauses spend their free time in their front- yard patio, greeting neighbors as they go by. On their large corner lot, they've renovated the yard, too, subtracting lawn while adding flowers, bulbs and vegetables. A shaded courtyard provides more space for meals and relaxation.

"I really enjoy that we can have a lot of people over," Arlene Krause said. "We host soccer and softball parties for the girls. I like being able to have space for the kids and friends."

Added her husband: "I love the neighborhood and the yard. Growing up in a small town (Colusa), I appreciate how this neighborhood has a small-town feel."

Their brick home has been the neighborhood's cornerstone for generations. And its 1924 billing still rings true: "The beauty of brick is as lasting as the centuries are long."


Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service