*As you journey to this charming Craftsman, please note the decorations on the vintage street lights lining Echo, Van Ness and (New this year) Weldon. These are purchased and maintained by the Fresno High Home Tour. Thanks to our Homeowners and Tour-Goers!
This charming Craftsman home is an encore to the Tour. It was last featured in 2011, when it was owned by Sheryl Hawes and Mike Bloomfield. This 2-story, 2600 square foot home is located on a slice of Weldon Avenue that features a grassy median and divided traffic. Nearby are some great new businesses – including Ampersand Ice Cream, Quesadilla Gorilla, and Kuppa Joy Coffee Shop.
Completed in 1919 by S.L Allen, the original owner was Emil Gundelfinger, a rancher and farmer born in 1880. Gundelfinger and his wife Elka had 3 children. Emil helped organize the Sequoia Council of Eagle Scouts, and today there is still an Eagle Scout Scholarship in his name for an Eagle Scout in the Sequoia Council who plans to pursue a career in Natural Resources Management and Conservation.
The exterior design of the home is a textbook Craftsman style home. Best known for deep eaves and neighborhood-friendly front porches, note the masonry on the column bases, with timber above. The exterior siding is a combination of cedar shingles and clapboard siding. The Rafter tails are decorative (look at the ends) and have the extra trim of a shadow board at the roofline. The dormer ventilation is also decorative – making
something that is a necessity here in the valley look beautiful. Above the high triple windows (in the attic) is a great example of a Craftsman roof bracket, and you can see them repeat themselves on the rest of the house. Wider base steps balance with wider window head casing. Traditionally these homes are painted to blend in with the earthy colors of nature. The Hicks plan on changing the exterior colors to adhere to that ideal.
Fun Fact – Many in the Architectural community thought the Craftsman design movement was clunky and wasteful, listing many of the attributes discussed above. Good thing these criticisms were largely ignored!
Harvey and Laura Hicks purchased their dream home in 2016. The house had been generously updated by Steve McBride a previous owner (still a neighbor). He installed central air-conditioning, replaced the old knob and tube system, and converted the plumbing. The Hicks are passionate about the Arts & Crafts era. Homes were carefully constructed, open and used space economically, emphasizing the return to handwork, skilled craftsmanship, and attention to design in the decorative arts. Harvey is a local real estate agent and Laura is a Radiologic Technologist. They are a welcome addition to the neighborhood family and have been hard at work on their labor of love, bringing it back to its original state.
The large covered front porch, typical of the Craftsman home is one of the owner’s favorite “rooms” of the house. Harvey and Laura spend many hours relaxing and interacting with neighbors and folks just passing by. They removed the colonial railing that existed when they moved in, which was not original to the home. The Hicks replaced the existing Victorian screen door with a more appropriate Craftsman style door, handmade by a like-minded craftsman and friend and neighbor.
The entryway has seen many changes in the Hicks' ownership. Notice the front door, the only original piece of wood in the house that was not painted. Craftsman construction was heavily dependent on wood and artistic carpentry. To the right is the staircase, which Laura relentlessly stripped layers of paint to reveal the original wood! Next to the staircase notice one of Laura’s favorite features of the home, the leaded-glass window. To the left is another favorite feature. The original wooden pocket doors. Harvey and Laura just completed restoring them in time for the tour. Notice the replicated craftsman pattern in the entry door sidelights, double hung windows and pocket doors.
The writer believes the house was built as a modest 3-bedroom 1 bath home, but multiple additions have been completed - it appears - for various uses. In1926, Gundelfinger hired S. L. Allen again, to extend the master bedroom and the den an additional 8 feet. At the top of the stairs, the first stop, is the home's original bathroom. Steve McBride enlarged and remodeled it to appear more as it would have at the turn of the century. Notice the accurately designed porcelain hex tiles, bead-board wainscot, and freestanding claw-foot tub. He pushed through the existing linen closet and added the generous shower, making use of the area over the stairs.
Peek into Bedroom 1 and Bedroom 2 (Harvey's Man Cave) on your way to Bedroom 3. The bedrooms were all numbered over the doorways at a time in the home's history. From 1942- 1952, Nancy Kinnee, a teacher, rented rooms to female college students attending CSUF, originally located on the grounds of Fresno City College. Notice the interior doors are 5 panel solid wood and have survived nearly 100 years of probable unpredictable traffic. The bedrooms have the 5-panel doors with the original knobs and original casement windows.
Bedroom 3, the Master, was extended 8 feet out to the East in 1926. Notice how the picture rail, ceiling and walls match perfectly after the extension. There is an original closet with a 5-panel door, but as vintage closets are usually small, eventually another was added to compensate larger wardrobes.
The original sleeping porch, built in 1921 by S. L. Allen has vintage features, such as the casings and trim, and casement windows. Before air-conditioning, the 2nd story almost always had a sleeping porch with windows located on opposite ends. Families slept here on hot summer nights, while enjoying the cool breezes. In 1947, Mrs. Kinnee added the newer sleeping porch, and utilized the original sleeping porch as another living space for her residents.
Throughout the downstairs, the original 2 1/4” Red Oak hardwood flooring has been preserved beautifully, accented by typical 9” baseboard with a base shoe detail. Typical of the Craftsman era, more funds were spent on the receiving rooms, and less on the personal/private rooms. In the Entry and Living Room/Dining Room this is very evident. As mentioned earlier, this was a modest home, so the woods used were less expensive than say a mahogany. Or maybe they just used what was available when it was available. Laura rescued the original brick fireplace from layers of paint – there's a picture book on the table in the middle of the living room documenting her progress.
The Living Room features a grand Chicago style picture window, coffered ceiling, wide window casings, base mouldings and picture rails – a detail that looks decorative to us but was a practical way to hang pictures without damaging the plaster on your walls. The Hicks have purchased and hung a vintage chandelier to compliment the design of the home. They finally owned a proper dwelling to house they’re collection of Stickley furniture, old and new. Gustav Stickley was a designer, for lack of a better term, who is credited with starting the Arts and Crafts Movement here in America after a trip to England in the late 1800's and terming it “Craftsman”. He recognized in himself - and hoped that other Americans felt this, too - a need for simpler, cleaner surroundings after the years of ornamental Victorian swirly-ness. His vision is something we value now in modern times; simplicity, honesty in construction, and truth to materials.
Built-in features were an important part of the Craftsman movement. More of Harvey and Laura’s hard work is on display in the dining room –the restoration of the buffet and window seat, revealing the original wood. It appears to be Fir – as These features were meant to make a house useful and beautiful without having to use furniture to accomplish it. The Window seat doubles as storage and the built-in buffet (missing its doors) houses some of the Hicks’ collection of period pottery, metalwork, and art glass. They also have pieces by Ephraim Pottery – a modern company using the old techniques to continue producing Arts and Crafts beauties in modern, original designs. The ceiling trim is more
recent but provides a nice compliment to the beamed Living Room Ceiling. Also, note the beautiful period artwork Harvey and Laura have collected.
Across from the Dining room is the den – the original windows on the east wall were most likely designed to accommodate the family piano. The master bedroom directly over this room and was extended at the same time by the original owner. More of the picture rails, window trim, and large baseboard continues the flow in the home. Notice the craftsmanship of the extension, the seams are undetectable.
The Kitchen has undergone multiple remodels over the years. The cabinets were replaced at some time, and then the previous owner changed their color and added the granite to the counters and backsplash. The tray ceiling is a distinct feature. Notice the windows are simple glass without muntins (strips of wood separating smaller panes of glass) – this was common in “unimportant” rooms. Kitchens at the turn of the century were much smaller than modern ones because cooking was usually relegated to a servant or employee.
The Guest Suite off the kitchen was most likely added as a bedroom for the homeowner when the property was used as a girl’s boarding house. It is situated directly under the original sleeping porch and was built onto the back of the house. Looking into the small closet you’ll see evidence [the exterior wall].
The Dutch door leads to the covered screen porch, directly under the sleeping porch addition. Look to the right and see the original cellar door, adjacent to the original exterior wall. In conclusion, as you exit through the back porch, enjoy the music from the FHS Chamber Choir situated under the carport in front of the detached garage.