National Register of Historic Places in Alameda County

National Register Reference 8689000258: William Locke House in Oakland, California 27 January 2011
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National Register #89000258
Locke House
3911 Harrison Street
Built 1913

Architect John Hudson Thomas (1878-1945) designed at least 160 houses in the East Bay, including the Locke House.

Thomas was born in Nevada, but as a boy, he moved to San Francisco with his parents. He graduated from Yale, then studied architecture under Bernard Maybeck and John Galen Howard at UC Berkeley. His most striking houses combine Prairie, Craftsman, Mission and Austrian Secession influences, and although his buildings appear to be built of heavy masonry, they are in fact conventional wood frame with an exterior stucco finish and give the appearance of being larger than they are.

According to Dave Weinstein, Thomas gloried in the expressive possibilities of stucco:

Heavy stucco caps loom over doorways and windows. Low arched doorways and windows, often in series, are a trademark. He also loved tall, narrow windows. But Thomas's houses soar as well. Erupting from the William Locke House, his masterpiece from 1913, is a three-story section that recalls the tower of a Queen Anne mansion. The home itself is a series of masses, one stepping back behind another.

An abstract play of planes, lines and half-circles is also a Thomas giveaway. Especially in his Viennese phase, Thomas' sense of geometric décor is as striking as Mondrian's. Flat sections of roof slash into triangular gables, and vertical stucco banda intersect with circular archways and doors....Signature Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area, Gibbs Smith, 2006.

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