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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

305 Churchill Avenue

Seale Residence

inventory photo 305 Churchill
Photo taken in 1978. Photo taken May, 2013

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

Physical appearance:   A substantial stucco house with over-scaled classical decorative detailing. The extensive grounds were carefully landscaped, but now are affected by enclosure of the adjoining lot and addition of a swimming pool. A small garage building which matches the design of the house completes the spatial composition.

The two–story, formal Colonial Revival composition is patterned after Colonial prototypes, particularly popular in Pennsylvania.

Significance:  An imposing example of the large formal house in period design. Two feature of construction are notable: Alfred Seale, for whom the house was built, sought to make it earthquake–proof by requiring railroad rails in wall, floor, and ceilings, both vertically and horizontally to decrease structural instability; and a central vacuum cleaning system was installed—a large air suction pump in the basement was connected by two–inch galvanized pipes to the baseboard of each room. A hose and attachments could be inserted by removing a plug in the intake pipe opening.

Alfred and Grace Seale (see 1103 Ramona) occupied the house from 1913/14–1920/21. From then until almost the present (1978) the owners were Maximillian D. and Luvenia R. Hopper. Hopper, at the time of the 1906 earthquake, was in charge of the city's power system; he was engaged in ranch property investments.

Mrs. Hopper was a daughter of the early Palo Alto rancher Lorenzo Welch. The house in which she lived until marriage in 1902 still stands at 1295 Wilson.

The extensive, heavily landscaped grounds provide an appropriate setting for such a large, formal design, and help to focus the similar but less extensive landscape elements along Churchill and Bryant.

map

This house was built in 1913 and is a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The architect was William Wurster and the builder Alfred Seale. The property measures 65 by 150 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 1/2/14, 10/14/20, 7/21/71, 8/28/73; interview 1983, Alfred Seale

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