Cohen-Bray House    

       Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland

The Family

The Cohen Bray House was built by Watson A. and Julia Moses Bray as a wedding present for their daughter Emma's marriage to Alfred Henry Cohen. The house was furnished by the groom's family, Alfred Andrew and Emilie Gibbons Cohen.  The house was completed in time for the lavish wedding on February 28, 1884.  The elaborate furnishings, wallpaper, and wedding gifts are all available for viewing in the house.  There is no other house quite like it in all of California or perhaps anywhere in the United States!  

The Cohen Family had four children.  Alfreda, Marion, Douglas and Emelita. Emelita lived in the house her whole life and she and her mother, Emma, kept the house in it's original form. Alfred Henry died in 1925, Emma Bray died in 1945. 

Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland

Origin of the VPCO: Upon the death of Emelita Cohen in 1988 the family faced a dilemma. How could this unique house be preserved and maintained?  A decision was made among the heirs to give up private ownership, and continue to maintain and preserve it for future generations of Bay Area Californians. They did this by forming a non-profit organization in 1993. The Victorian Preservation Center or Oakland (VPCO), was created to govern the house, and safeguard its passage into a second century of life.

What the VPCO does: The organization has four stated goals:
  • the preservation of the Cohen-Bray House and Gardens.
  • to create a resource center for the study of the culture and development of the Bay Area during the Victorian period and early 20th Century.
  • to serve as a resource center for the preservation and restoration of Historic House Museums
  • to provide hands on activities for community members to make connections between the past and the present.

It provides a unique opportunity for students to study the decorative arts and material collections of The Cohen-Bray House in the environment where they were actually used and created. Local students and students from around the country have visited the house for study.

Scholars also participate actively in conservation, interpretation, and analysis of the period.

The Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland is a non-profit organization.
Tax ID #94-3156522