OAKLEY - Faded orange brick marks most of the historical homes in Oakley, and you won't need help picking them out among the ordinary bungalows and modern homes that line the town's roads. Still, some details of Oakley's Victorian-style architecture need closer inspection. Oakley Valley Historical Society has arranged a Saturday tour of five of the town's many historical homes and of Howells Opera House to benefit the renovations the society plans for the Oakley Museum. The homes were built at the turn of the 19th century, and current owners have decorated and renovated them to look as though it's still the late 1800s. Look through our quick architectural guide here, and you'll be set to appreciate Victorian style on Saturday.
Spandrels: These decorative wood pieces adorned the tops of doorways and arches during the Victorian era. In the Payton home in Oakley, pictured here, they can be seen above the entryways to the kitchen and parlor. The spandrels are an example of the ornamentation prevalent in traditional Victorian design.
—Patterned wallpaper: Victorian decorating is known for the bold and elaborate floral wallpapers that abounded. There was also a focus on taxidermy in Victorian design elements. The wallpaper in the Payton house is a good example of both, with pheasants and florals boldly printed on the walls.
—Parlors: Victorian homes were designed to separate private and public spaces. Although current homeowners might call them living rooms, all the homes on the Historic Oakley Homes Tour have parlors which were traditionally the primary public space to entertain guests. These rooms were decorated with things that showcased family history and the homeowner's interests. In the Oakley homes, the parlors are filled with antiques and family heirlooms handed down for generations. The Payton parlor boasts an organ that used to be in Oakley's seminary school before 1905, when it was repaired and moved to the Payton house - more than a century ago.
—Arts and Crafts influences: You might not think of clean lines when you think of Victorian design, but in reality Victorian decor was eclectic and drew from many different styles. The windows in the Cutler-Worthington home, owned by Jon Roundy and pictured here, have a simple border grid that separates the window into smaller portions in a Craftsman style. Lighting fixtures in the Payton home, which were installed the first year there was electricity in Oakley, also have an Arts and Crafts feel; they resemble something one might find in architect Frank Lloyd Wright's design book.
—Molding: Victorian design used every architectural element to embellish its decorative style. You'll see bold use of molding in all the homes on the Oakley tour. Many Victorian homes boasted bead board and wainscoting topped with moldings to create chair rails. All of the homes on the tour have decorative moldings - some of them, like those in the Payton house, are even original.
Some of the homeowners got around this costly practice of putting up new molding to fit the style and still kept the historical look by using different wallpapers to make a divided wall. Marble patterns were popular in the early 1900s and have been used in the Payton home instead of wainscoting.
—Thick walls: They don't build them like this anymore. Homes from the Victorian period are still around today because of their sturdy construction. "These homes are three bricks thick," said Marge Woodhouse of the Oakley Valley Historical Society. "They are so quiet inside because of the thick walls."Even the interior walls of these homes - like Chuck and Liz Payton's home, pictured here - are thicker than those in modern homes. The entryways to some rooms are at least a foot wide.
—Brick work: The Brown home, which used to be an award-winning cheese factory, is unique in that it is built out of larger bricks than the rest of the homes. However, the signature Victorian-style arches in the bricks above doorways and windows can be seen in it as well as the other century-old homes. These features in the brick work show off the detail-oriented style of Victorian architecture.
—Stained glass: Windows in the Haight, Payton and Cutler-Worthington homes have stained glass that dates back to the original construction. Stained glass was a popular Victorian element. The windows are usually simple in design but create an interesting effect when sunlight filters through them and into these exquisite homes.