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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

1550–1560–1566–1570 Cowper Street

street view
1570 Cowper at left, driveway access to cottages in center, and 1550 Cowper on right.

inventory street view
Inventory photo 1550 Cowper Street

The following is adapted from the Historic Buildings Inventory as revised in 1985 and a telephone interview with Ester Morton, daughter of Pedro de Lemos, 8/14/78:

Physical appearance:   This cluster of stucco Medieval Revival buildings, whose miniaturized scale and picturesque silhouette provide a convincing backdrop for a mythical munchkin land, were designed by Pedro de Lemos.

Significance:  The houses now numbered 1550 and 1566 were patterned after Normandy homes which de Lemos visited and photographed while touring in France.

The cottages in the back were built for various reasons: one became income property after its use as a residence for de Lemos' parents. This particular cottage had two kitchens, one for each parent. The cottages opposite that home were used as a play house for the de Lemos children. The de Lemos children's footprints are in the stones of the hearth of this cottage that was sheathed in pine bark and shake.

The cottage at 1566 was organized inside to serve as a duplex, while the box–like structure at 1560 served variously as studio and rental unit.

The property was contiguous with the de Lemos lots on Churchill. All were essentially income units in the earlier years, and their occupants seldom remained for more than a year or two.

The other frontage house, now numbered 1570, was similarly inspired but more conventionally rendered. It has been owned by Dr. David Cooney since the early 1960's.

1560 1560
1560 studio

Redwood cottage footprints onhearth
1554 Cowper playhouse and hearth

inventory 1566 1566
1566 side view
light fixture Inventory picture of window
1566 Cowper: Cottage patterned after a Normandy home.

1570 Cowper

side rear location map
Driveway side of 1550 Cowper Location map

These houses were built in 1930 and are a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. Pedro de Lemos was the architect and builder. The irregularly shaped property measures 50 by 200 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 11/25/29; interviews Birge Clark, Esther Morton


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