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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

520 Cowper Street – Demolished 1985
Cowper Court

inventory 520 Cowper
Photo taken in 1978. Photo taken circa 1985.

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

Physical appearance:   This two–story U–shaped apartment court in straight–forward Craftsman Shingle Style is allowed a modest declaration of refined propriety by three Classical front entries preceded by a garland of ten Classical columns supporting a trellis.

Significance:  The City's first major apartment complex, an investment enterprise of Matthew A. Harris, an early Atherton mayor, who, as World War I drew to its end, rightly anticipated the demand for first–class apartment facilities attractive to permanent residents. Built at the cost of between $40,000 and $50,000, the property's value proved a sensitive index to the community's fortunes in boom times (sold in 1925 at nearly $150,000) and Depression or transition years (changing hands in the 1930s and mid–1940s at prices in the $70,00s).

Among owners of interest were Mary Gilman and her heirs, who originally owned the site; Harris, the initial owner; C. H. Strube of San Francisco, sometime owner of the President Hotel, the San Francisco Seals, and Santa Anita race track; Professor John A. Almack, canny investor and distinguished Stanford faculty member in Education; and Ruth W. Freeman, of Palo Alto. By 1981, Lance D and Wanda W. Ginner were the owners.



This building was built in 1918 and was a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The builder was  D. R. Hallling of San Francisco. The property measures 127 by 200 feet. See photos of the replacement here.


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