Cohen Bray House Project – USA


Join an RWI Volunteer Day at a historic house in the San Francisco Bay Area

The non-profit Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland and Restoration Works International are partnering to preserve and protect the historic 1884 Cohen Bray House so it can continue to be an important part of the community and provide archival research opportunities about Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area.

RWI organizes volunteer days at the Cohen Bray House year-round. Volunteers help with maintenance and restoration projects on site and enjoy a rare and unique opportunity to go behind-the-scenes to learn about the architecture and lives of those who inhabited the house from 1884 to 1940. As a volunteer, you also contribute toward the protection of the numerous collections that promote the academic study of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Oakland, California.

Grand-nieces of the original owners, Patty and Nancy Donald, organize and oversee RWI volunteers in the various preservation and restoration tasks both inside and out. Along the way, RWI volunteers have made connections with other volunteers as we all pitch in together. So far, RWI volunteers have logged over 100 hours of painting, gardening and other maintenance projects.

Volunteer Day is free of charge, and occurs twice monthly on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 AM to 4 PM. Lunch is provided. Volunteers should register in advance through RWI. Please dress in work clothes and work boots/shoes, and bring a hat, work gloves, sunglasses and drinking water/snacks. Tools and materials are provided. For an updated schedule, visit the registration page. Sign up here to receive news on future dates.

Spending an RWI Volunteer Day at Cohen-Bray House is a great way to get a real taste of the uniquely RWI way of making a difference in the United States and in the world.

More About the Cohen Bray Project

RWI’s involvement with Cohen Bray House began in the summer of 2019 when two sisters, Patty and Nancy Donald, the grand-nieces and descendants of the Cohan Bray family and driving forces behind preservation and restoration efforts, invited RWI to bring volunteers to the site.

Patty and Nancy founded the Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland nonprofit organization in 1993 as a means to maintain and preserve the Cohen Bray House. Built in 1884, the Oakland Historic Landmark Cohen Bray House is associated with two prominent East Bay families from the Gold Rush era. The three-story house is an example of Stick-Eastlake Victorian style architecture and has 17 rooms, five fireplaces, ornately carved redwood paneling, and original stained glass, wallpapers, carpeting, and furnishings. The property also includes a 136-year-old half-acre garden, complete with fruit trees, seasonal vegetables, hops, wildflowers, beehives, rose bushes and other ornamentals originally planted in 1884.

The center offers tours and programs showcasing the home’s original interiors and period Victorian garden. Cohen-Bray’s school and garden programs connect students, neighbors, and visitors to the land. To learn more about the Cohen Bray House, visit their website.

Cohen Bray House Project News