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604 Tennyson Avenue

comparison

The owner provided both photographs. The current image was taken from about the same angle and at the same time of day as the historic one (taken in 1925 or 1926) to enable comparison. He thoughtfully converted the image to black and white to make the comparison easier.

The house was originally built by early Stanford math professor Dr. William A. Manning. He and his wife Esther lived here until 1925 when they moved to 649 Alvarado Row on the Stanford campus. They had five children and clearly needed more room than a two-bedroom house, like 604 was at that time, could provide. Dr. Manning (1876–1972) lived to be 95.

The house was sold to Vern James, a student of Dr. Manning's, who earned his doctorate in 1927. Dr. James taught mathematics for many years at San Jose State. (When they were young, the children of both professors Manning and James slept in an open sleeping porch located where the kitchen is today.)

The second story was added in the early 1930s by Dr. James, as was the gabled section to the left. The facade was changed from redwood shingle to clapboard at that time. The shape of the right hand gable, however, is the same. Note the chimey and the position of the front door. Dr. James did most of the work himself, including the digging of a full basement by hand!

Vern and Edna Chapman James lived here from 1925 until Dr. James's death in 1967. There were four children. (Edna James died in 1965). The historic photo shows Edna James and her children at the front door. The James children sold the house to its third owners, John and Ann Palmer. Dr. Palmer was a Stanford urologist, and he put the house on the market after only two years, because he received an offer in 1969 from UC Davis.

There were some bright children who grew up in this house. Dr. Manning's son (still living) is a retired professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, and two of Manning's daughters became professional mathematicians in their own right. One of the James daughters was a professor of psychology at the University of Washington for many years. The current owner's son holds a Ph.D. in ecology and now works for NOAA.

The current owner, who holds a Ph.D. degree himself, finds it interesting that, although realtors call this part of town "Old Palo Alto," this house, along with 299 Tennyson Avenue, is practically the first home south of Embarcadero Road to reach 100 years of age, other than the Gamble House (1902). Almost all the other older homes are either on the Stanford campus or north of Embarcadero Road. It would be more accurate and historically correct to call this area the Seale Addition.

Taken 2008 Peter Danner, owner

 

Note: The child in the historic photo is the daughter of Vern and Edna James. (Thanks to her daughter for sharing this information.)

Read about the early history of this part of the Seale Addition.

 

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