Dave Brubeck’s Former Oakland Treehouse Hits the Market for the First Time in Nearly 50 Years

Back in the late 1940s, Dave Brubeck used a matured $1,000 war bond his father had given him and $100 from his own savings to purchase a 50-by-100-foot lot in Oakland’s Montclair neighborhood that “amounted to one huge rock.” A few years later, the then-burgeoning jazz musician enlisted Case Study architect Beverley D. Thorne to design him and his wife Iola a treehouse-like structure teetering on five steel beams, resting amid a heavily wood parcel overlooking sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay.

Completed in the early ’50s after the “Ambassador of Cool” had achieved success—and last sold by the Brubecks to its current owners in ’74 for less than $100,000, per tax records— the notable property has now returned to the market 50 years later, asking exactly $3 million. The listing, at 6630 Heartwood Drive, is being offered by Emma Morris of Red Oak Realty.

Dave Brubeck House Oakland

A boulder rising from the floor of the dining/music room holds a glass-paneled desk where Brubeck worked on many of his popular tunes.

Christian Klugmann

Nestled on a steep hillside piece of land spanning almost a third of an acre, the four-bedroom, four-bath structure is fronted by a curving driveway that empties out at a carport topped with a view deck. A trio of steps leads up to the yellow-hued front door, which opens into a little more than 2,600 square feet of living space on two levels rife with multi-colored brick floors and post-and-beam ceilings, plus vast expanses of glass incorporating head-on views of the towering pines gracing the grounds.

Among the main-level highlights is a dining/music room marked by a large boulder sporting a glass panel that served as the actual desk where Brubeck worked on songs like Take Five and Blue Rondo à la Turk. An adjacent living room has a wood-burning fireplace stretching to the ceiling and large picture windows, and around the corner is a wood-clad kitchen outfitted with an eat-in island, stainless appliances, a freestanding wood stove and breakfast nook spilling out to a balcony.

Dave Brubeck House Oakland

A segment of “The Ed Sullivan Show” was once filmed in the living room, which hosts a brick-clad fireplace and large picture windows.

Christian Klugmann

A lengthy hallway off the kitchen leads to a cantilevered wing sporting three bedrooms, including a primary suite on the end that reportedly has an escape hatch in the floor, as well as a dressing area and bath. A small gym, laundry room and bath also can be found on this floor, while the lower holds an en-suite bedroom and an office space with its own bath.

Upon building the house, Brubeck remarked, “As a musician, I feel that if inspiration can come from good surroundings, I’ll find it here.” He wasn’t wrong. The Dave Brubeck Quartet went on to release the acclaimed album Time Out, which became the first jazz LP to sell more than a million copies, and also led to him gracing the cover of Time magazine and filming an episode of The Ed Sullivan Show in his Oakland living room. The composer and pianist died of heart failure in 2012 right before his 92nd birthday.

Click here for more photos of Dave Brubeck’s former Oakland house.

Christian Klugmann

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