Restoration Efforts

In support of our mission to engage public support for preserving the William R. Thorsen house, we are focusing on raising funds for critically needed work in the areas covered under an existing Preservation and Conservation Easement granted to the California Preservation Foundation in 2003.

Seismic Strengthening—The house sits just 500 feet from the Hayward Fault, an earthquake zone that has the potential to cause irreparable damage to this landmark structure. Recent earthquakes have heightened awareness of this issue. Work required includes:

  • Strengthening of the unreinforced masonry chimneys and foundation bearing walls
  • Laterally bracing weak areas of the structure
  • Restoring deteriorated wooden structural elements including the east balcony and terrace columns
  • Enhancing structural connections between the foundation, walls, and roof

Roof and Drainage System Repair and Restoration—Beside earthquakes, water is one of the most significant enemies of the house. The copper roofs, gutters, and downspouts are in disrepair and are missing critical elements to divert water away from the house and foundations.

  • Inspect and repair copper decks, gutters, conductor heads and leaders. Replace missing pieces to match original
  • Clean roof tiles and replace missing/damaged pieces
  • Replace subsurface drainage system

Exterior Woodwork, Door/Window, and Sunroom Repair and Restoration—The “Ultimate Bungalows” are famous for their magnificent design, craftsmanship, and woodwork. The Thorsen house remains one of the most original, intact examples of the Greene’s work, but over 100 years of exposure to the elements has taken a toll. The exterior is in need of a general restoration to preserve it for future generations.

  • Gently clean and treat all wood surfaces with protective coating
  • Repair shakes with material to match original
  • Repair deteriorated beam ends, rafter tails and trim
  • Repair door and windows and treat with protective coating to match original finish

Building Code Compliance—There is no denying that fire and life safety are some of the most important issues for any structure. In an historic building, these challenging issues must be addressed in a manner that doesn’t compromise the character and integrity of the historic resource.

  • Upgrade fire suppression systems, fire detection and alarm system
  • Upgrade emergency lighting in exit pathways
  • Resolve egress issues from basement and third floor
  • Replace missing handrails to match original
  • Provide accessibility features

Interior Repair and Restoration—“Wow” is a common reaction as people walk through the front door into the tranquil and dimly lit entry hall. Fine craftsmanship and design abound in the woodwork, art glass, light fixtures, cabinets, fireplace surrounds and much more.

  • Clean wood paneling, doors, windows, stairs, casework, light fixtures, and trim
  • Clean/repair wall and ceiling fabric and restore hand-painted decorative panels
  • Restore art glass
  • Restore fireplaces and surrounds
  • Refinish original oak floors

Site Repairs, Restoration and Security—The Greenes’ design vision extends to the property lines on all sides; no detail was ignored. The wonderful experience of visiting the Thorsen house begins as you walk under the wrought iron gateways, up the curving masonry stairway leading to the front door, and continues as you walk through the entry hall onto the rear terrace.

  • Improve and repair site drainage
  • Repair original pathways, terraces, and walls
  • Replace missing fence to match original design (currently underway)
  • Restore and protect original metalwork
  • Restore original light fixtures