The Man Behind the Mansion: Frank Delos Wolfe

By John Christian, Assistant Archivist

It may sound sacrilegious for a historian to say, but I am not the biggest fan of architectural history. Or at least that was the case before I was contacted by Krista Van Laan in February of this year. Krista was working on her book Frank Delos Wolfe: California Prairie Architecture. Turns out that Wolfe was responsible for designing two well-known homes (that we know of) in the Hayward area—the Burr House on Grove Way, and the Oliver Manson at the intersection of Hesperian Boulevard and Tennyson Road. These two homes have always fascinated us here in the Archives and not a month goes by that someone doesn’t ask us the history behind these places.

What got me so excited was the level of historical information that Krista was after. Her wonderful book not only discusses the architectural elements of a Wolfe home, but also tells the stories of the people who lived in his homes. She does an excellent job connecting these unique structures to their owners and builder. Krista sums this point up in her introduction saying, “The Wolfe Prairie houses spoke to those forward-thinking men and women who had their own ideas about what kind of home they wanted to make for themselves…”

Fascinating right? Fortunately for all of us Krista Van Laan will be coming to speak here at the HAHS Center for History & Culture on Thursday, November 20 at 5:30pm. Come and meet with the author and catch what is going to be a great presentation! You’ll get to view images used from the HAHS collection for the book as well as countless others. Best of all, the book will be available for purchase.

So please mark your calendars and bring your friends. Let’s explore the life and work of Frank Delos Wolfe and buildings only he could have created. And who knows? You might just realize how much you actually like architectural history just like I did. See you here!