Pre-war homes—those built before 1939—are architectural gems. They are sturdy, charming, and often what people are referring to when they look at the prevalent colorless, linear designs of today and lament “they just don’t make them like they used to.”

In some ways, that’s a good thing. Pre-war homes often contained materials we know to be hazardous today, like asbestos and lead. But their signature characteristics, including hardwood floors, nickel accents, ornate crown molding, and high ceilings, are among the features many people look for in a dream home.

Preserving the history of these properties, many of which you’ll find on the National Register of Historic Places, is labor that often extends beyond the scope of an individual homeowner. Depending on where these homes are located, special permission by local historic commissions may be required before renovations can be done in an effort to preserve their historic architectural integrity.

Stacker compiled a list of counties in California with the most pre-war homes using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the highest percent of homes that were built before 1939 based on 2020 5-year estimates.

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30. Mariposa County

– Homes built before 1939: 5.6%
– Homes built since 2000: 16.3%
– Median year built: 1984
– Total homes: 10,525

29. Nevada County

– Homes built before 1939: 5.8%
– Homes built since 2000: 15.8%
– Median year built: 1983
– Total homes: 53,905

28. Fresno County

– Homes built before 1939: 5.9%
– Homes built since 2000: 20.3%
– Median year built: 1979
– Total homes: 333,357

27. Kings County

– Homes built before 1939: 6.0%
– Homes built since 2000: 23.1%
– Median year built: 1984
– Total homes: 46,267

26. Merced County

– Homes built before 1939: 6.0%
– Homes built since 2000: 23.8%
– Median year built: 1981
– Total homes: 86,691

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25. Stanislaus County

– Homes built before 1939: 6.2%
– Homes built since 2000: 19.0%
– Median year built: 1980
– Total homes: 182,239

24. Butte County

– Homes built before 1939: 6.4%
– Homes built since 2000: 16.2%
– Median year built: 1979
– Total homes: 93,968

23. Tehama County

– Homes built before 1939: 6.8%
– Homes built since 2000: 18.8%
– Median year built: 1980
– Total homes: 27,618

22. San Joaquin County

– Homes built before 1939: 7.1%
– Homes built since 2000: 23.9%
– Median year built: 1982
– Total homes: 245,192

21. Monterey County

– Homes built before 1939: 7.2%
– Homes built since 2000: 12.0%
– Median year built: 1974
– Total homes: 141,910

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20. Santa Barbara County

– Homes built before 1939: 8.2%
– Homes built since 2000: 11.9%
– Median year built: 1973
– Total homes: 159,317

19. San Mateo County

– Homes built before 1939: 8.2%
– Homes built since 2000: 9.2%
– Median year built: 1965
– Total homes: 278,756

18. Sonoma County

– Homes built before 1939: 8.3%
– Homes built since 2000: 13.9%
– Median year built: 1978
– Total homes: 206,498

17. Napa County

– Homes built before 1939: 8.5%
– Homes built since 2000: 14.9%
– Median year built: 1975
– Total homes: 55,339

16. San Benito County

– Homes built before 1939: 8.8%
– Homes built since 2000: 16.9%
– Median year built: 1985
– Total homes: 19,215

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15. Lassen County

– Homes built before 1939: 9.0%
– Homes built since 2000: 15.6%
– Median year built: 1978
– Total homes: 12,766

14. Amador County

– Homes built before 1939: 9.1%
– Homes built since 2000: 23.1%
– Median year built: 1982
– Total homes: 18,246

13. Inyo County

– Homes built before 1939: 9.1%
– Homes built since 2000: 8.4%
– Median year built: 1972
– Total homes: 9,514

12. Glenn County

– Homes built before 1939: 9.2%
– Homes built since 2000: 12.5%
– Median year built: 1976
– Total homes: 11,210

11. Mendocino County

– Homes built before 1939: 10.9%
– Homes built since 2000: 11.4%
– Median year built: 1976
– Total homes: 40,874

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10. Colusa County

– Homes built before 1939: 11.3%
– Homes built since 2000: 18.6%
– Median year built: 1976
– Total homes: 8,153

9. Santa Cruz County

– Homes built before 1939: 11.4%
– Homes built since 2000: 10.2%
– Median year built: 1973
– Total homes: 105,819

8. Marin County

– Homes built before 1939: 13.1%
– Homes built since 2000: 6.3%
– Median year built: 1966
– Total homes: 112,319

7. Siskiyou County

– Homes built before 1939: 14.3%
– Homes built since 2000: 14.1%
– Median year built: 1976
– Total homes: 24,177

6. Humboldt County

– Homes built before 1939: 14.5%
– Homes built since 2000: 11.5%
– Median year built: 1972
– Total homes: 63,003

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5. Los Angeles County

– Homes built before 1939: 14.7%
– Homes built since 2000: 8.2%
– Median year built: 1963
– Total homes: 3,559,790

4. Modoc County

– Homes built before 1939: 16.8%
– Homes built since 2000: 9.5%
– Median year built: 1974
– Total homes: 5,259

3. Sierra County

– Homes built before 1939: 17.2%
– Homes built since 2000: 12.8%
– Median year built: 1974
– Total homes: 2,337

2. Alameda County

– Homes built before 1939: 19.3%
– Homes built since 2000: 11.1%
– Median year built: 1968
– Total homes: 605,767

1. San Francisco

– Homes built before 1939: 46.4%
– Homes built since 2000: 11.0%
– Median year built: 1944
– Total homes: 398,613

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