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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

2240 Cowper Street

inventory 2240 Cowper
Photo taken in 1978. Photo taken in 2012.

The following is from the Historic Buildings Inventory as revised in 1988:

Physical appearance:   This William Wilson Wurster house in an example of Wurster's quiet fusion of up–to–the minute modernism with traditional vernacular modes. This house presents carefully controlled articulation of subtle detailing and seemingly incompatible fragments that are a hallmark of the Bay Area tradition. A second story, designed by Wurster to blend unobtrusively with the original design, was added in 1964. A patio was enclosed in 1982. Nevertheless, this house retains its low silhouette and harmonious relationship to the landscape by virtue of its stylistic constancy with the original, one–story clad in horizontal wide clapboard and simple, well detailed trim. An overhanging hipped roof type is used throughout and at the recessed entry.

Significance:  This house displays the characteristically excellent work of its internationally known architect, until recently (1987) Dean of the University of California School of Environmental Design in Berkeley. It was built for Alfred and Ida Raas. Mr. Raas retired from the wholesale millinery business in San Francisco in 1937.  During world War II he directed Palo Alto's war salvage committee and the Christian Science Camp Welfare Committee.

Jack and Mary Wheatley purchased the house in 1962. Larrick Hill designed the 1982 changes.

Wheatley was mayor during the 1960s and is a Latter Day Saints bishop.  This house is cited in A Guide to Architecture in San Francisco and Northern California.

Another house designed by Wurster is located at 1570 Emerson Street. This house is the finer of the two . . . its style became the prototype from WWII onward for informal, simple residential design in harmony with the environment. . . its owners were significant contributors to community life.

window detail
1570 Emerson
1570 Emerson Street


This house was built in 1939 and was added on May 16, 1988 as a Category 3 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The architect was William Wilson Wurster. The builder was E. J. Schmaling. The property measures 120 by 127 feet.

Sources: A Guide to Architecture in San Francisco and Northern California, 1973, S. Woodbridge, et. al., p. 159


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