The lovely and historic Borland House was built in 1913 by Robert A. Borland, a builder and plasterer who immigrated to the United States from Scotland. The building’s architect was Ed McGlynn. The cost of the building, according to the City of Oakland building permit was $3,000, which was quite expensive for that time.
Mr. Borland first lived for a time in Chicago and San Francisco before moving into the beautiful Queen Anne/Colonial Revival home that he built for his wife, Agnes C. Borland and their six children. Mr. and Mrs. Borland lived in the home from 1913 until their deaths in 1926. However, many of the children remained living in the home until the 1950’s when it was subdivided into four apartments, most likely to handle the post-war housing demand.
Because Mr. Borland was a plasterer, the home is ‘built like a fortress’ and the gorgeous coffered ceiling that is in what was once the main parlor of the home is surely one of the most stunning coffered ceilings that can be seen anywhere in the United States.
City of Oakland Status
The Borland House is a historically-significant structure, according to the City of Oakland’s Cultural Heritage Survey. The building has a “B” Rating, which means that it is a building of local and statewide significance. The home has recently undergone a thoughtful renovation to update the look and feel of the building without losing any of it’s unique period touches or vintage charm.
The Borland Family
The Borland’s were a family of some importance in Oakland in their day. The head of the family, Mr. Robert A. Borland was a builder and actually built the home for his family. He ran a successful plastering business and his son, David W. Borland followed in his father’s footsteps, eventually opening up his own plastering and wallpapering company. David married Sarah C. Borland, an Oakland socialite who worked for Julia Morgan, the State’s first female architect, who designed many local landmark buildings, as well as Hearst Castle. Sarah was also a pioneer suffragette and temperance worker and appeared in many newspaper articles in her day as a result of her many civic activities.
The other of the six Borland children were Mary L. Borland, a telephone operator, Jeanette (Jennie) Borland, a telephone operator, Robert Borland Jr., a plasterer, Agnes Borland, a milliner, and Peter G. Borland, a clerk. According to the 1930 census, three of the Borland children still occupied the home: Peter, whose occupation was listed in the census records as a “builder,” Robert Jr., a “plasterer” and Jeanette, a “telephone operator.” By 1953, only Jeannette and Robert Jr. were the only Borland’s still living in the home, and by 1959, the census shows that none of the Borland family were still living there.
Mr. Borland In The News
On January 20, 1926, the head of the family, Robert A. Borland was arrested for disturbing the peace by a fellow Scotsman on his first day on the job as an Oakland police officer. It was such a big story that it made the Oakland Tribune. Read the Article about Mr. Borland arrest here.