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The Bishop-Sanford Home

733 E. Peralta Avenue

Please remember to bring your tickets the night of the tour!

The homeowners bought the home in 2017 and is only the third family to have lived here. It underwent extensive renovations before they were able to move in: electric and plumbing upgrades, floor refinishing, new kitchen and baths, removal of a stairwell, and a few walls needing to be moved. Projects planned include remodel of the side porch, brick tuck pointing, and backyard landscaping. Throughout the house, you will see souvenirs from many business trips over the past 20 years (over 100 countries).

This home was originally built in 1915 and completed in 1918. Mr. Louis Childs Sanford became missionary Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and held that position from 1911-1944. City records confirm that this was his only residence in Fresno over his lifetime. He died in 1948. Two generations of the same family lived here from 1944 to 2017.


The Bishop L.C. Sanford

During his time at UC Berkeley, Mr. Sanford met Julia Morgan. She was a remarkable woman, especially for the time, who achieved many firsts. She graduated with honors in 1894 as the first woman with a BS degree in civil engineering at Berkeley. She trained in architecture in Europe, as no school in the US admitted women for architecture degrees. She attended the prestigious Beaux-Arts Ecole in Paris; she received her degree in architecture in 3 years instead of the usual 5 and was the first woman to graduate from the school. In 1904, she became the first woman architect licensed in California. She was the first woman to receive the American Institute of Architects highest award, the AIA God Medal, posthumously in 2014. She is famous for her buildings in the San Francisco area, YWCAs throughout California, and the Hearst Castle. She embraced the Arts and Crafts Movement and the American Craftsman style of architecture.


733 E. Peralta Way prior to the green vinyl siding (circa 1970’s)

She designed a residence for Bishop Sanford of Fresno and these architectural drawings were archived at the Berkeley Bancroft Library. This beautiful plan was for a wide, two-story home with 8 pairs of double columns, four on each side of the front door to provide a substantial front overhang with a canvas covered second story balcony above.

The designed residence was too wide to fit on this lot—the only residence that Bishop Sanford owned in Fresno. The house that was built at 733 E Peralta contained many of the same features of the original design but was built to fit this lot. The same features include 5 upstairs bedrooms to accommodate other missionaries. The original design had a first-floor study leading to a chapel as this home does as well as the triple windows in the front entry way. Other duplicate features include porches off bedrooms as in the two rear bedrooms.

Entry Way and Living Room The triple windows in the entry way match a Julia Morgan design feature. In this house the living room is in line with the study and chapel, rather than being side by side for a wider lot. The downstairs closet in the chapel has been turned into a ½ bathroom. The closet would indicate that the chapel could double as a downstairs bedroom matching the first-floor bedroom of the original design. The tree is decorated with a mix of ornaments from the homeowners’ childhood along with ones they have collected over the years. They get one each year from travel and/or with the year on it.

Finally, the dual staircase to the mid-floor landing before ascending the single staircase up to the second floor is an indication of classic Julia Morgan design. The living room entryway originally had French doors which were moved to the back of the library in place of some bookshelves.

Study and Library The study or billiard room was a receiving room/waiting room to see the bishop in his chapel. The original wood banner over the fireplace is an Old Testament Hebrew script. The chapel had bookshelves all around. There was a solid wall with bookshelves where the French doors leading outside now are. These doors were originally in the front entry - living room entry.

Dining Room The Phone booth passageway to the Dining Room contained a servant call button. Note the ink sketch of a square brick home over the bar. This was the homeowners’ Grand Rapids, Michigan home in one of the largest designated historic neighborhoods in the U.S. (Heritage Hill). They received the sketch as a gift for putting their house on the Heritage Hill Home Tour. Tanis Van Allsburg, the artist, is the sister-in-law of Chris Van Allsburg, the Grand Rapids native and author and artist of The Polar Express and Jumanji among other children’s books. There is a lump under the rug for the floor outlet, common when electricity was first introduced (non-functional now).

Second Floor The upstairs has many changes of rooms that were originally used to accommodate missionaries. These changes have created a laundry room, exercise room, office, master bedroom closet, and a sunporch that is the homeowners’ favorite place to have coffee in the morning. The guest bathroom was originally a Jack and Jill design with the laundry room being the other bedroom. The laundry bedroom was reduced and the bathroom expanded with the door added next to the linen closet. The exercise room was another bedroom with a closet. The Master bedroom is two bedrooms combined with the hallway door removed from what is now the master closet. We uncovered a window during our remodel (in the alcove leading to the closet). The closet was originally a small bedroom. In the Master bathroom dual sinks are over what was originally a narrow staircase leading down to the kitchen. The clawfoot tub is the original which was restored. The Master bedroom is two bedrooms combined with the hallway door removed from what is now the master closet. A window was uncovered during the remodel (in the alcove leading to the closet).

Finally, the dual staircase to the mid-floor landing before ascending the single staircase up to the second floor is an indication of classic Julia Morgan design.

Kitchen The stove area was originally the landing area of the narrow servant staircase. A souvenir displayed in this room is an award from a “Chili Cook Off” in which the homeowner was a participant. The kitchen has a heated cork floor, walnut island and marble counter tops. Windows on the north wall are a bit unusual: the windows open by dropping down into the wall.

Outside workout room The original garage was built around 1920 and addition in the l970’s. This room was referred to as the “party room” by the previous owners who added it. It became a workout room during the pandemic when gyms closed.