One of the oldest homes in Brentwood is being restored to its former glory during a six-month, top-to-bottom renovation.
James and Morris Carey, of Carey Bros. Remodeling in Brentwood, are undertaking the historic renovation of the downtown Brentwood bungalow. The Carey brothers are third generation, nationally recognized and award-winning general contractors and consumer advocates, who have more than 70 years of combined, hands-on experience.
In addition to running their East Bay remodeling company, the Carey’s host “On the House,” a nationally syndicated, home-improvement radio talk show, produced by Carol Carey.
“Back in the day, this was a good-looking home,” said Morris. “We’re going to restore it to its early-day appearance, and it’s going to be a piece of artwork when we’re finished.”
Mike and Robin McClellan own the bungalow, which is located at 604 2nd St., in Brentwood. Robin’s father Wilmer White inherited the home from his sister Margaret Wedgewood, who was married to George Wedgewood, a former city clerk of Brentwood.
The McClellans raised their own family in the home, before they moved out of state for work. When the family moved, they rented the home and it fell into disrepair. When they returned to Brentwood, they were faced with the option of repairing and remodeling their old family home or to sell it and purchase a new one. They chose to restore the house that was filled with so many significant memories.
“It’s scary to take on such a big endeavor, but we’re excited to get to move back into our first home,” said Robin. “It will be wonderful to live in a location we love, but beautifully remodeled with modern amenities.”
The history of the home dates back to 1906, when it was estimated to have been built.
According to the McClellans, the house was originally built in the mining town of Nortonville or Somersville and was moved to Brentwood in 1910 and placed in its current location. Proof of the bungalow’s historic beginnings lie within its walls.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” said Morris.
When the Carey brothers began demolition, they uncovered a glimpse into turn-of-the-century construction and a few surprises, including old knob-and-tube wiring and indoor plumbing consisting of old transparent plastic tubing.
The most unusual discovery was that the home’s walls consisted of redwood fences. Each wall was a fence covered in fabric wallpaper dating back to the early 1800s, which was covered with a one-eighth inch cardboard covering, similar to a thick gift box.
“It was interesting to find all of the elements that are unique to the house,” said Morris.
After the home was moved to Brentwood, it continued to gain historical significance. A 1917 map published by the Brentwood News in 1917 shows the home belonged to Doc Moore, who owned Doc Moore Drugs, a pharmacy on Oak Street in Brentwood.
According to East Contra Costa Historian Mary Black, during that time, a physician could not make a living as a doctor alone and sometimes served as a pharmacist or dentist. Black also noted that 2nd Street in particular holds historical significance, as many of the homes were built by Hercules Logan, who designed the Brentwood Hotel and the Bank of Brentwood, for Balfour-Guthrie.
“I applaud this commitment to preserving the past and making it pertinent to the present,” said Black. “These houses and buildings help maintain continuity of history and provide anchoring cornerstones to the past.”
The restoration of the historic home is something both of the Carey brothers take personally, as they were forced out of their own family home – which was built by their grandfather and where their mother was born and raised – due to urban renewal.
“We have big holes in our heart due to the loss of that home, and if we could have, we would have restored it,” said James. “This project is a gesture to live out our dreams of remodeling our own family home.”