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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

543 Emerson Street
Schmidt Building

inventory photo Schmidt Building
Inventory photo Photo taken January 25, 2016


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

Physical appearance:   This utilitarian one–story commercial building offers a fanciful scrolled false front as a facade. Decoration and sign are integrally included in patterns of small square black and white tile, which includes the building's name and date.

Significance:   This is a handsome example of the shaped false front which was a standard and economical way of presenting stylistic flair on commercial structures of the early era. It replaced a cottage built in 1899 by James W. Wells for Downing and Sons. The earliest shops in it were those of the Bake–Rite Bakery, Palo Alto Sheet Metal Works, and F. W. Stuart, printer.

From about 1925–1935, it also housed the office of Gray Thorning Lumber Co. After 1935 until 1969, chiropractors James W. Hall (1936–1945), John William Tegardine (1945–65), and Leo M. Shaughnessy (1968–9) had their offices in the building. Alan's Shoe Store and the Market of the Flea came in 1970.

The original owner, Henry C. Schmidt, had been in plumbing and engineering construction in San Francisco before coming to Palo Alto soon after the 1906 earthquake. Here he opened the early motion picture houses, the Novelty (1910) and the Marquee (1912) on University Avenue.


543 Emerson

Photo taken 1986

This building was built in 1922 and is a Category 3 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The builder was Charles Baker. The property measures 50 by 100 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 12/29/99, 9/13/21, 12/1/22, 5/21/25, 1/2/45, 3/16/72


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