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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

951 - 953 - 955 Addison Avenue — Demolished

Cottage Group

955 map
955 Addison Inventory photo Location map

The following is from the Historic Buildings Inventory as revised in 1985:

Physical appearance:   Three small structures compose one of a number of similar cottage groupings. Each grouping consists of small units (usually four, but only three in this case) placed in a staggered progression on deep, narrow lots. The units are sheathed in shingles, have an oddly battered gable end, and chimneys of rustic stone. The careful plot planning and unusual cluster relationship are important aspects of these small Craftsman cottages.

Significance:  These small buildings are composed with skillful Craftsman details, and their grouping on the site represents a subtle bid for urban planning. The presence of similar groups in the city reinforces the visual impact of such design. W. M. Bernard was an investor-contractor who built many small houses in the city during the 1920s and 1930s. He was especially active in this area south of Channing and east of Middlefield. Local memory identifies the owner to whom he sold the cottages as a Berkeley spinster with Palo Alto property interests.

Short-term tenants usually have occupied the cottages. The earliest, Arthur F. Winter, was an electrician and auto mechanic, a native of Palo Alto who lived all his life in the city.

From 1939 to 1954, the owners were Fred J. and Helen Simpson. Simpson's father, Fred B., was constable of Palo Alto township 1913-16, and his children were born in the Simpson house at 361 Channing (where the Palo Alto Medical Clinic parking lot is now located. [Note: It is now Heritage Park.] Fred J. Simpson worked in the local post office for 36 years and was a considerable collector of books and documents on California history.

John and Kathi Lerch owned the property in 1979 and lived at 951.

Note: The cottages were demolished sometime before August 2010 and one house now sits on the property.

These houses were built in 1927 and were a Category 4 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The owner and builder was William M. Bernard of Mountain View. The property measures 50 by 248 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 4/29/16, 9/20/27, 10/1/69, 6/15/84; interviews 1985 Mr. and Mrs. Walter C. Peterson, Mrs. Todd Peterson, Mrs. Dorothy Fiorini.


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