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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

536 Emerson Street
Bell's Book Store

Bell's Books Invenbory photo Bell's Books
Bell's book Store on right in Inventory photo Photo taken ca. 1986


The following is from the Historic Buildings Inventory form as prepared in 1986:

Physical appearance:   The concrete frame building of one and one–half stories of internal height allows the book stacks maximum area. A centered recessed entrance is flanked by showcase windowws abouve a green travertine marble base. Opaque clerestory windows span the entire front facade between the frame. There is an egg and dart motif at the flat roof line and standing lions flank the facade at the roof.

Significance:   This building is a fine example of a downtown commercial storefront of its ear. the design, scale and location of the building further enhance its value as an essential complement to other historic buildings in the block. 

After a brief tenure by J. A. Nyquist, florist, Bells College book Store has been the sole occupant since 1937. [Note the date on the 1986 photo. Bells Books celebrated its 80th anniversary on October 8, 2015.]

Earlier, on the site, an older building (from ca. 1905–1910) housed a shoemaker and a Singer sewing machine shop, with residents on the second floor.


Bell's inventpry photo

This building was built in 1924 and is a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The architect was P.H. Briggs. The property measures 25 by 107.5 feet. It was added to the Inventory in 1988.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 8/1/24


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