Counties with the oldest homes in California

Written by:
August 27, 2022
BDS2006 // Wikimedia

Counties with the oldest homes in California

There's an undeniable charm that comes with pre-World War II American architecture, characterized by high ceilings, crown molding, hardwood floors, and ornate details. In fact, 12.8% of all housing units in America were built in 1939 or before, showing the popularity of the preservation of these units. Owning a piece of history can sometimes come with a cost: Many old homes come with asbestos, lead piping, knob-and-tube wiring, and other outdated building styles that can rack up a hefty price tag to modernize. However, with more and more modernized pre-war homes on the market, generally located just outside bustling downtown metros, investing in property that has withstood the test of time is an attractive prospect.

Stacker compiled a list of the counties in California with the oldest homes using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by median year the structure was built according to 2020 5-year estimates. Ties broken by the highest percentage of homes built before 1939.

The country's domestic architecture is perhaps best characterized by a rugged individualism as opposed to the hybridization of disparate architectural elements. As Maya Angelou once perceptively observed, "the ache for home lives in all of us," a phrase that has meant very different things to different people.

Modest or palatial, there is no shortage of noteworthy homes in the U.S. Log cabins constructed by industrious pioneers have dotted the landscape alongside traditional Native American dwellings ever since immigrant Swedes introduced them to the New World in 1638. The unprecedented personal fortunes amassed by the so-called "Robber Barons" at the close of the 19th century gave way to the construction of a staggering number of Gilded Age estates.

The ravages of time spared neither the sumptuous nor the humble. Stately mansions, often prohibitively costly to maintain in the modern era, were frequently neglected; simple structures were forgotten, discarded by their owners, and damaged by natural elements. However, the tireless efforts of architectural preservationists and local historical societies have saved many of these homes from demolition, leading to their inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and thereby safeguarding them for future generations.

Keep reading to learn more about which counties in California have the oldest homes.

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Doug Olson // Wikimedia Commons

#58. Placer County

- Median year homes built: 1992
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.1% (5,124 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 33.8% (56,065 homes)
- Total homes built: 166,083
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Daniel Orth // Flickr

#57. Riverside County

- Median year homes built: 1989
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 2.1% (18,028 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 31.5% (266,148 homes)
- Total homes built: 845,066
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Cbl62 // Wikicommons

#56. Imperial County

- Median year homes built: 1989
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 2.6% (1,481 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 27.5% (15,893 homes)
- Total homes built: 57,855
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#55. Calaveras County

- Median year homes built: 1987
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.2% (908 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 21.4% (6,001 homes)
- Total homes built: 28,096
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Public Domain

#54. Madera County

- Median year homes built: 1987
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.3% (1,644 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 27.4% (13,823 homes)
- Total homes built: 50,480

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Michael Patrick // Wikimedia Commons

#53. San Benito County

- Median year homes built: 1985
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.8% (1,683 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 16.9% (3,248 homes)
- Total homes built: 19,215
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EPoelzl // Wikimedia Commons

#52. Mariposa County

- Median year homes built: 1984
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.6% (589 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 16.3% (1,720 homes)
- Total homes built: 10,525
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Armona // Wikicommons

#51. Kings County

- Median year homes built: 1984
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.0% (2,763 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 23.1% (10,678 homes)
- Total homes built: 46,267
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DimiTalen // Wikimedia Commons

#50. El Dorado County

- Median year homes built: 1983
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 2.9% (2,691 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 18.8% (17,213 homes)
- Total homes built: 91,569
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nickchapman // Wikicommons

#49. Kern County

- Median year homes built: 1983
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.4% (13,215 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 23.1% (69,148 homes)
- Total homes built: 299,179

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Frank Schulenburg // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Nevada County

- Median year homes built: 1983
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.8% (3,147 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 15.8% (8,530 homes)
- Total homes built: 53,905
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#47. San Bernardino County

- Median year homes built: 1982
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.6% (25,656 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 18.1% (130,682 homes)
- Total homes built: 721,376
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Epolk // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Yolo County

- Median year homes built: 1982
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.9% (3,863 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 22.7% (17,814 homes)
- Total homes built: 78,565
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Basar // Wikicommons

#45. San Luis Obispo County

- Median year homes built: 1982
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.0% (6,057 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 20.3% (24,873 homes)
- Total homes built: 122,256
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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Yuba County

- Median year homes built: 1982
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.3% (1,525 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 29.1% (8,325 homes)
- Total homes built: 28,632

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LPS.1 // Wikicommons

#43. San Joaquin County

- Median year homes built: 1982
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.1% (17,338 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 23.9% (58,649 homes)
- Total homes built: 245,192
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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Amador County

- Median year homes built: 1982
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.1% (1,656 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 23.1% (4,215 homes)
- Total homes built: 18,246
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Doug Kerr // Wikicommons

#41. Shasta County

- Median year homes built: 1981
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 2.6% (2,048 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 15.3% (12,010 homes)
- Total homes built: 78,488
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Susan Popielaski // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Alpine County

- Median year homes built: 1981
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.9% (70 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 16.8% (302 homes)
- Total homes built: 1,794
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#39. Solano County

- Median year homes built: 1981
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.3% (8,475 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 16.1% (25,663 homes)
- Total homes built: 159,055

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#38. Tulare County

- Median year homes built: 1981
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.4% (8,157 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 22.7% (34,078 homes)
- Total homes built: 150,079
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Mark Miller // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Merced County

- Median year homes built: 1981
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.0% (5,199 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 23.8% (20,603 homes)
- Total homes built: 86,691
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#36. Del Norte County

- Median year homes built: 1980
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.5% (402 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 13.7% (1,557 homes)
- Total homes built: 11,349
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clr_flickr from Rocklin, USA // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Mono County

- Median year homes built: 1980
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.1% (579 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 8.9% (1,258 homes)
- Total homes built: 14,092
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CFang // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Lake County

- Median year homes built: 1980
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.2% (1,464 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 17.4% (6,014 homes)
- Total homes built: 34,477

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Kenneth Green // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Plumas County

- Median year homes built: 1980
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.6% (726 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 17.5% (2,782 homes)
- Total homes built: 15,873
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Ray Bouknight // Wikicommons

#32. Sutter County

- Median year homes built: 1980
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.5% (1,877 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 20.6% (7,100 homes)
- Total homes built: 34,394
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Public Domain

#31. Stanislaus County

- Median year homes built: 1980
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.2% (11,229 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 19.0% (34,634 homes)
- Total homes built: 182,239
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Frank Schulenburg // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Tehama County

- Median year homes built: 1980
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.8% (1,879 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 18.8% (5,180 homes)
- Total homes built: 27,618
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SD Dirk // Flickr

#29. San Diego County

- Median year homes built: 1979
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.2% (50,943 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 16.0% (194,401 homes)
- Total homes built: 1,215,528

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#28. Sacramento County

- Median year homes built: 1979
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.8% (27,487 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 18.2% (104,133 homes)
- Total homes built: 572,916
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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Tuolumne County

- Median year homes built: 1979
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.2% (1,636 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 11.1% (3,499 homes)
- Total homes built: 31,572
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David Jordan // Wikicommons

#26. Fresno County

- Median year homes built: 1979
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.9% (19,512 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 20.3% (67,547 homes)
- Total homes built: 333,357
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#25. Butte County

- Median year homes built: 1979
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.4% (6,020 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 16.2% (15,260 homes)
- Total homes built: 93,968
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Almonroth // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Trinity County

- Median year homes built: 1978
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.4% (478 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 14.7% (1,306 homes)
- Total homes built: 8,895

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Fred Hsu // Wikicommons

#23. Sonoma County

- Median year homes built: 1978
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.3% (17,047 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 13.9% (28,758 homes)
- Total homes built: 206,498
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Finetooth // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Lassen County

- Median year homes built: 1978
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.0% (1,147 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 15.6% (1,990 homes)
- Total homes built: 12,766
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MARELBU // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Contra Costa County

- Median year homes built: 1977
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.3% (17,776 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 15.4% (63,960 homes)
- Total homes built: 415,067
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Hollywood // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Orange County

- Median year homes built: 1976
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 2.5% (27,266 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 13.6% (149,779 homes)
- Total homes built: 1,101,244
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#19. Ventura County

- Median year homes built: 1976
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.5% (10,252 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 12.8% (37,181 homes)
- Total homes built: 289,425

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Trance addict // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Glenn County

- Median year homes built: 1976
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.2% (1,034 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 12.5% (1,401 homes)
- Total homes built: 11,210
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Binksternet // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Mendocino County

- Median year homes built: 1976
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 10.9% (4,463 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 11.4% (4,655 homes)
- Total homes built: 40,874
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CleanWater17 // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Colusa County

- Median year homes built: 1976
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.3% (922 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 18.6% (1,518 homes)
- Total homes built: 8,153
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Chmee2 // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Siskiyou County

- Median year homes built: 1976
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 14.3% (3,446 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 14.1% (3,406 homes)
- Total homes built: 24,177
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Stan Shebs // Wikicommons

#14. Napa County

- Median year homes built: 1975
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.5% (4,681 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 14.9% (8,226 homes)
- Total homes built: 55,339

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Uladzik Kryhin // Shutterstock

#13. Santa Clara County

- Median year homes built: 1974
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.9% (33,102 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 15.2% (101,652 homes)
- Total homes built: 668,896
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Naotake Murayama // Wikicommons

#12. Monterey County

- Median year homes built: 1974
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.2% (10,178 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 12.0% (17,035 homes)
- Total homes built: 141,910
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Scott Burley // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Modoc County

- Median year homes built: 1974
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 16.8% (886 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 9.5% (498 homes)
- Total homes built: 5,259
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#10. Sierra County

- Median year homes built: 1974
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 17.2% (401 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 12.8% (298 homes)
- Total homes built: 2,337
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Pixabay

#9. Santa Barbara County

- Median year homes built: 1973
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.2% (12,997 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 11.9% (18,946 homes)
- Total homes built: 159,317

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Aaronbrick // Wikicommons

#8. Santa Cruz County

- Median year homes built: 1973
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.4% (12,068 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 10.2% (10,802 homes)
- Total homes built: 105,819
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Chuck Abbe // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Inyo County

- Median year homes built: 1972
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.1% (867 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 8.4% (796 homes)
- Total homes built: 9,514
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Cory Maylett // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Humboldt County

- Median year homes built: 1972
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 14.5% (9,107 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 11.5% (7,274 homes)
- Total homes built: 63,003
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Jennifer Williams // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Alameda County

- Median year homes built: 1968
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 19.3% (116,754 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 11.1% (66,979 homes)
- Total homes built: 605,767
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Kglavin // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Marin County

- Median year homes built: 1966
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 13.1% (14,730 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 6.3% (7,117 homes)
- Total homes built: 112,319
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Craig Howell // Wikimedia Commons

#3. San Mateo County

- Median year homes built: 1965
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.2% (22,891 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 9.2% (25,526 homes)
- Total homes built: 278,756
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BDS2006 // Wikimedia

#2. Los Angeles County

- Median year homes built: 1963
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 14.7% (521,527 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 8.2% (292,681 homes)
- Total homes built: 3,559,790
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#1. San Francisco

- Median year homes built: 1944
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 46.4% (184,841 homes)
- Homes built since 2000: 11.0% (43,960 homes)
- Total homes built: 398,613

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