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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