Counties with the oldest homes in California

Written by:
September 12, 2021
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history can sometimes come with a cost: Many old homes come with asbestos, lead piping, knob-and-tube wiring, and other outdated building styles that can rack up a hefty price tag to modernize.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, with ties broken by the most homes 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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#30. Sacramento County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,866 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.7%
--- #2,540 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 570,752
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Ray Bouknight // Wikicommons

#29. Sutter County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,858 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.2%
--- #2,433 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 34,395
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Kenneth Green // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Plumas County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,857 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.2%
--- #2,427 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 15,830
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Frank Schulenburg // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Tehama County

- Median year homes built: 1979
--- #1,823 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.6%
--- #1,996 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 27,558
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Almonroth // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Trinity County

- Median year homes built: 1978
--- #1,711 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.8%
--- #2,323 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 8,918
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Bobak Ha'Eri // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Tuolumne County

- Median year homes built: 1978
--- #1,708 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.1%
--- #2,267 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 31,553
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#24. Butte County

- Median year homes built: 1978
--- #1,701 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.0%
--- #2,114 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 96,505
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Matt314 // Wikicommons

#23. Sonoma County

- Median year homes built: 1978
--- #1,687 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.4%
--- #1,880 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 207,713
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Finetooth // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Lassen County

- Median year homes built: 1977
--- #1,562 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 10.6%
--- #1,625 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 12,783
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CleanWater17 // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Colusa County

- Median year homes built: 1977
--- #1,553 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.4%
--- #1,541 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 8,044
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Hollywood // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Orange County

- Median year homes built: 1976
--- #1,499 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 2.5%
--- #2,953 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 1.1 million
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#19. Ventura County

- Median year homes built: 1976
--- #1,496 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.6%
--- #2,745 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 288,896
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MARELBU // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Contra Costa County

- Median year homes built: 1976
--- #1,492 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.3%
--- #2,605 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 413,719
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Binksternet // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Mendocino County

- Median year homes built: 1976
--- #1,434 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.7%
--- #1,511 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 40,960
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Stan Shebs // Wikicommons

#16. Napa County

- Median year homes built: 1975
--- #1,331 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.3%
--- #1,901 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 55,602
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Chmee2 // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Siskiyou County

- Median year homes built: 1975
--- #1,294 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 14.7%
--- #1,280 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 24,118
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Uladzik Kryhin // Shutterstock

#14. Santa Clara County

- Median year homes built: 1974
--- #1,234 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.0%
--- #2,495 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 672,495
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Trance addict // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Glenn County

- Median year homes built: 1974
--- #1,226 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.6%
--- #1,851 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 11,008
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#12. Sierra County

- Median year homes built: 1974
--- #1,203 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 14.2%
--- #1,314 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 2,365
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Scott Burley // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Modoc County

- Median year homes built: 1974
--- #1,172 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 18.8%
--- #1,009 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 5,258
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Naotake Murayama // Wikicommons

#10. Monterey County

- Median year homes built: 1973
--- #1,127 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.3%
--- #2,052 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 141,820
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Pixabay

#9. Santa Barbara County

- Median year homes built: 1972
--- #1,022 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.6%
--- #1,864 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 157,161
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Chuck Abbe // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Inyo County

- Median year homes built: 1972
--- #1,021 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.8%
--- #1,824 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 9,572
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Aaronbrick // Wikicommons

#7. Santa Cruz County

- Median year homes built: 1972
--- #1,012 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.9%
--- #1,502 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 106,307
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Cory Maylett // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Humboldt County

- Median year homes built: 1971
--- #936 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 14.6%
--- #1,287 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 63,089
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Jennifer Williams // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Alameda County

- Median year homes built: 1968
--- #722 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 19.5%
--- #963 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 608,096
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Kglavin // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Marin County

- Median year homes built: 1966
--- #633 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 12.6%
--- #1,437 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 113,084
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Craig Howell // Wikimedia Commons

#3. San Mateo County

- Median year homes built: 1965
--- #583 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.3%
--- #1,902 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 277,773
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BDS2006 // Wikimedia

#2. Los Angeles County

- Median year homes built: 1963
--- #496 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 14.8%
--- #1,277 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 3.5 million
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#1. San Francisco County

- Median year homes built: 1944
--- #15 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 46.8%
--- #15 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 397,812

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