Tucked behind trees and bushes in the heart of Fresno’s Christmas Tree Lane is an old hidden estate perfect for entertaining or private relaxation.
Blink and you could miss the historic gem.
On a little more than 2 acres of land on the corner of Van Ness Boulevard and Ashlan Avenue is the Bernhauer House. The 6,235-square-foot Mediterranean-style home has six bedrooms and six bathrooms. It is for sale at $1.7 million.
“A home like this doesn’t come up for sale but every 30 to 50 years,” said Stacey Simons, of London Properties who is selling the property. The owners are moving out of state. “This is really a special place.”
Don’t confuse this Old Fig beauty for the Bernhauer Home on Huntington Boulevard in southeast Fresno. The Van Ness house was built in 1928 for Arthur Bernhauer and his family. Bernhauer was president of the Fresno Planing Mill Co., a lumber business. His brother, Clarence, who was vice president of the company, owned the Huntington Boulevard home.
The massive Van Ness house was designed by H. Rafael Lake, the same architect behind the Hotel Californian, the Wilson Theatre, and the L.C. Wesley Garage (on the corner of Van Ness Avenue and Kern Street) in downtown Fresno.
Simons likes to imagine what it was like to attend a party at the home in the 1920s. Enter through the front doors and step into a grand foyer with beams on the ceiling. Hand your coat to a servant who might have hung it in the walk-in coat closet nearby, Simons said as she takes me on a tour that goes on and on around the property.
Touch up your makeup in a powder room and bathroom just off the foyer or make a phone call in a teeny-tiny room that fits just a chair, a small desk and a phone.
A curved rosewood banister leads to the bedrooms upstairs. Double doors usher visitors to the living room and to the spacious backyard. Large arched windows in the living room once opened onto a front porch or balcony, Simons said. The wood beams and door frames that showcase the woodworking of the time are painted over in white. Original light fixtures and custom glass still exist in the house. Bernhauer’s initials are on the fireplace mantel.
Two butler’s pantries separate the dining room and kitchen, allowing servants back then an easy way to deliver and return plates of food. The floor is made of terrazzo, a material made up of marble and other chips of stones and then poured in place. The second family of only three that ever owned the house added a family room to the back.
You can take the wide, winding staircase in the front of the house upstairs or a narrow servant stairway near the kitchen to the children’s wing. Yes – the children had a wing of the house to themselves with bedrooms, a Jack and Jill bathroom and an area with built-in desk for studying or open space for playing. The master bedroom and updated bathroom is across the landing.
Think that’s a lot? The living space continues outdoors. The property once had a tennis court covered with imported French clay. The court was removed and fruit trees were planted in its place, Simons said.
Follow a path from the main house past the fruit trees to a sparkling pool with pool house, guest quarters and pergola. A four-car garage has a half basketball court behind it and a tennis backboard.
“The owners who live here love it,” Simons said. “It’s a special opportunity for the next owner.”
“It’s a home for someone who will appreciate the historical and architectural” value of the home.
Address: 4175 N. Van Ness Blvd., Fresno
Price: $1.7 million
Size: 6,235 square feet, six bedrooms, six bathrooms
Details: Arched windows and door frames, bay windows, children’s wing with Jack and Jill bathroom, servants stairway, newer family room addition, master suite dressing room; upstairs balcony, pool, pool house, half basketball court and tennis backboard.