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Who Was David Glass?

In 1877, David Glass, who was prosperous but never wealthy, opted to build a home with an imposing exterior design. The style of architecture was Italianate, a sophisticated new fashion that had been introduced in the Bay Area during the mid-1860's by architects who migrated to San Francisco from the East Coast. An impressive two story, nine room structure, prominently situated in San Ramon between Dublin and Walnut Creek, the Glass house would have stood in proud contrast with the modest homes of most of its neighbors in the small, rural community that existed in the San Ramon of the 1870's.

The Glass House is an important part of the San Ramon community. As such, contribution from active community members play a large role in the restoration project. Please take the time to discover the remarkable story of San Ramon's history, deeply embedded in one of its earliest and most prominent families, and the house in which they resided.

The Glass House accommodated a household of up to seven children and, until his death in 1876, Eliza Glass' elderly father. At the time of the 1880 Census, two local schoolteachers were boarding with the Glass family. By today's standards, the house is not large - 1,892 square feet including hallways and stairs. With the exception of the 19' x 14.5' kitchen, the largest of the nine rooms in the Glass House, none of the other rooms are more than 13' wide.

Although David Glass built a home that marked him as a man of means, most of his capital was invested in his land, livestock, and farming equipment - in truth he may have had very little cash on hand. If the following story is correct, it may reflect an effort at practical economy by Mr. Glass during construction of his home.

As a small boy in the 1930's, Clem Ellisondo recalls being told by longtime Glass caretaker, John Amarant, that the kitchen wing was the oldest part of the Glass House. Mr. Ellisondo states that, following a fire; the remaining portion of the original small Glass family residence was moved and incorporated into the new house construction to provide a kitchen wing. The recent FHF construction in the kitchen of the Glass House revealed scorch marks on some of the original framing timbers, lending credence to this scenario, however no documentation of the fire has yet surfaced. Although the Glass House underwent modifications over the last century, the balanced, characteristically Victorian, floor plan of the house remains essentially intact.

General Information

  • Floors: Area rugs were used throughout the home over the wooden floors. No examples of rugs have been located
  • Walls : With the exception of the kitchen, which was painted, most sources have indicated that the house was wallpapered throughout in small patterns. It is likely that any wall treatments viewed in the 1920's and 30's, date from the Glass family's 1908 redecorating and were not original to the home.
  • Window Treatments : Pre-1908, louvered shutters. After 1908, louvered shutters and/or lace curtains. Some of the louvered shutters remained with the house and are in the FHF Collection.
  • Lighting : Since the Glass House was located in a rural area, the use of kerosene lamps would have continued until the advent of reliable electric power sometime after 1910.

The History of the Glass Family Video


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The restoration project not only consists of complete restoration of both the interior and exterior of the house, but also includes outside landscaping (fence, garden, etc.) and furniture. Because of its scope, the San Ramon Valley Rotary is looking for individuals who wish to get involved with the community and; help the project with either volunteer hours or donations.