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Siegriest House is a beautiful Victorian-style home at 5185 Miles Avenue, the long-time family home of artist Louis Siegriest. According to An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area the house was designed by A.W. Smith. 1 5185 Miles Ave. was 123 Miles Ave. before renumbering, and Miles Ave. was previously First Avenue. Cavour Street was previously Summer Street; both were changed during a 1907 renaming. 2

The home was built sometime between 1890 and 1900, although the evidence regarding the date is ambiguous. It is also unclear whether the property was owned by Mr. Siegriest's parents or grandparents at the time the house was built. Some sources state that the house was originally constructed and owned by Giuseppe "Joseph" Bassi and Maria Bassi. History does show that the Bassi family constructed the first, and significantly smaller, house on this property. 3 Their adopted daughter was Louis' mother, Emelia Bassi (Siegriest), who inherited the property after they both died in 1898. Some sources say that Louis' parents, Emelia and Louis Napoleon Siegriest, built the house circa 1900, the year after the artist was born. 4 Other sources state that  the artist lived his entire life in this house, implying that it must have been constructed prior to February 1899. 4,5 At least one source is internally inconsistent, and includes both both dates. 4 

County Assessor's records, which are used as the basis for data on Zillow and similar websites and are notorious for often being somewhat inaccurate, state that the house was constructed in 1885. 6 Small blurbs in the Oakland Tribune published in late 1891 and early 1892 noted that Mr. Bassi was constructing a cottage on First Avenue and a house on Second Avenue in Temescal, and it is possible that one or both of these were inaccurate references to this house.7,8 Note that the Tribune stated that Mr. Bassi was living on Second Avenue in 1891, and it appears that he owned multiple lots in the area. 9 Maria Bassi's obituary stated that she died at this address in 1898, and an interview with Mr. Siegriest noted that he was born at this address in 1899, but neither source specifies whether these events occurred in the smaller house or the current house on this property. 10,11 The book An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area says the house was not built until 1900. 1 Note that the interview with Mr. Siegriest was conducted in a studio in the basement of 5203 Miles Avenue, a house owned by Mr. Siegriest's son across the street from this house, which was subsequently demolished and the property became part of the parking lot for the Oakland DMV Office. 10 

5185 Miles Avenue, circa 1900 4

1903 Sanborn excerpt1950 Sanborn excerpt

Links and References

  1. An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area by Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny
  2. Board Of Public Works Clears Up Big Mystery Oakland Tribune April 10, 1907
  3. 5185 Miles c1890 Temescal Over Time
  4. 5185 Miles c1900 Temescal Over Time
  5. Louis Siegriest obituary San Francisco Chronicle (I swear I saw this obituary earlier this morning and that it stated he lived his entire life in this house, but I cannot find it in my history)
  6. 5185 Miles Avenue
  7. Temescal Oakland Tribune December 30, 1891
  8. Temescal Oakland Tribune March 5, 1892
  9. Temescal Oakland Tribune April 4, 1891
  10. Maria Bassi obituary Oakland Tribune April 4, 1989
  11. Tape recorded interview with Louis Siegriest and his son Lundy Siegriest Bancroft Library March 4, 1954