Buckley Rumford Fireplaces
Alameda and
Bay Area Historic Register Rules

Update 2011 - Alameda rules for historic homes
Alameda rules for non historic homes

Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2007
From: Annie & Dick Rutter
Subject: Bay Area Historic Houses
To: Jim Buckley
Cc: Mark Baird , Katherine Holcomb


We have close to 11,000 buildings built before 1942 in the City of Alameda alone, and 8,500 of them were constructed between 1854 and 1930. We have a huge number of Victorians, and an equal number of Bungalows. There is huge development pressure on Alameda, as people have finally figured where this island (off the coast of Oakland) in SF Bay is, and how to get to it. Compared to the rest of the Bay Area, Alameda has been very undervalued.

San Jose Ave

The picture labeled "San Jose Ave" gives you an idea of some of the Victorians Alameda has in its inventory. This particular house has always been single family, and never cut up into apartments like so many others.

To at least slow up wholesale teardowns of Bungalows and Victorians, two laws have been passed over the past 35-years. The first was "Measure 'A'", which basically rezoned the entire island and reduced the construction of apartment buildings down to a series of duplexes, minimum lot size 2,000 SF per unit. The most recent passage was, "all buildings built prior to 1942 are subject to the jurisdiction of Alameda's Historic Advisory Board".

The Chief Building Official has ruled in addition that all buildings falling under the purview of the HAB will be considered "listed", and thus, the California State Historic Building Code can be used for alterations to these buildings. This is the loophole that allows for the reconstruction of chimneys, fireplaces, and the like.

We have been working with the Owner of a 1912 Edwardian Bungalow, (two photos-735 Taylor Ave) who in a fit of "I don't know what" tore significant portions of his two chimneys down. Attached is a photo of the old bricks reutilized in his rebuilt front porch---a job we designed utilizing his ideas. This job has received a lot of favorable comment by many Alameda citizens. They really pay attention in this town!

The original fireplaces (2) were coal burners, with the commensurate shallow fireboxes, etc. The Owner now wants to reconstruct them to burn wood---WITHOUT THE GLASS DOORS---which I wholly agree with! The State Historic Building Code loophole will allow us to do this. Rumfords will fit in just perfectly, and that's one reason why I went for that solution. The Chief Building Official wants either a UL Listing or an ICBO Report for your Rumford kits, and that's why I called up to your operation yesterday. I believe I can "educate" this person without an ICBO Report, but he and other Building Officials in California would be much more accepting if one were in existence.

I have known about Rumfords for at least 35---maybe more---years. I am chomping at the bit to get these two installed. I would like to use this Alameda house as a "case study" and as an example of what Rumfords can do. The kits you sell I believe will go a long way in "quality assurance", which is a MAJOR PROBLEM! I have seen many fireplaces in my day, and building a good one that performs correctly is a "black art". Masons knowledgeable in these "black arts", and capable of building a decent fireplace today are quite rare. We've just lost a couple I have relied upon in the past, just in the last several years. A lot of the really good masons are Germans*.