Flames engulf old Humburg house in Alamo
Old-timers recall visiting the original family home
It wasn't just any house that burned down last week in the Danala Farms neighborhood in Alamo. It was the historic Humburg house, which had been moved to the site some 20 years ago from Orchard Court, where it was built in the 1890s.
"My grandpa built that house," said Danville resident Betty Dunlap. "My maiden name was Humburg."
Even after the house was moved to the 900 block of Danville Boulevard, Dunlap would drop by and talk to the contractor, F.P. Gorski, who was doing extensive remodeling.
"He was trying to restore it to be authentic," Dunlap said. "It just was sad that something like that would go up in flames."
Firefighters responded to a structure fire at 5:19 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 954 Danville Blvd. The house had been undergoing major remodeling and was approximately two months from completion, according to reports from the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.
The 4,000-square-foot home was 75 percent in flames upon arrival of fire crews. Three engines, two ladder trucks and one paramedic responded to the call for a total of 20 personnel. The fire was under control by 5:53 a.m.
The man who owns the house and his daughter were staying downstairs during the renovations and they were awakened by the fire. They were able to get out safely, and there were no injuries.
Original structure damage estimates were set at $1 million and content damages at $100,000.
Alamo historian Virgie Jones also remembers when the Humburg family lived in the house at 24 Orchard Court. It was built for August Humburg and his bride Alice Annie Stone, as a three-story Queen Anne Victorian after they were married in 1893.
"It was Aunt Annie Humburg's home," Jones said. "They were part of the Stone family; my mother-in-law was a Stone."
The house was moved south on Danville Boulevard in 1989 to Danala Farms, along with another home that went to Gurney Lane. It was owned at the time by John and Barbara Conrad.
"The Conrads served mimosas and donuts on the original location before they left," Jones recalled. "It took a long time to move the houses. There were a lot of obstacles."
Jones, 90, said she was in the car directly behind the houses as they traveled down Danville Boulevard.
The Humburg house was originally built with the main floor about a story above the ground, said Dunlap.
"The reason it was built in two stories was in those days the creek overflowed," she explained.
Subsequent owners lowered the house and made the upper portion into rooms.
The other house that was moved was also built by August Humburg, said Dunlap.
"My grandpa built that house on Danville Boulevard and Jackson Way for his mother," she said.
Preliminary reports said the fire may have been caused by temporary electrical equipment being used on the second floor while renovations were being done.