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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

2110 Park Boulevard

(Earlier address, 510 Park Boulevard)

2110 Park 2110 Park
Inventory photo Photo taken May 31, 2009

Physical appearance:   This reinforced concrete house which is a free adaptation of Mission Revival devices and forms. An inventive building, both structurally and visually, in its original state the roof area was developed as a trellised terrace that, since the date of the Inventory, has been re-created. A red tile roof covers the entry porch. Some of the recessed windows feature criss-cross iron detailing. This house was built to demonstrate fire and earthquate resistant features as well as to show that handsome and regionally popular architectural qualities were compativle with concrete.

Significance:  This house is important architecturally as an impressive attempt to expand the possibilities of the Mission Revival style, and significant technologically in its use of reinforced concrete for a residential structure. A published description also called attention to the use of mosaic tile as an ornamental feature. It originally was built as a promotional device for the San Francisco Concrete Construction Co., which was seeking clients and investors, and the San Francisco Bulletin, which offered it as first prize in a subscription contest conducted in the first half of 1909. Large display advertisements portrayed it in line drawings (including the first floor plan) and extolled its design, durability, and convenience.

It also was described and pictured in 1912 in the Concrete House and Its Construction (Philadelphia, Assn. of American Portland Cement Manufacturers, 1912, pages 18, 135 and illustrations at page 18 and Figure 86) on the residential usage of reinforced concrete. The contest winner was Miss Patricia O'Hair, of San Francisco. She collected subscriptions equal to the value of 375 two-year subscription, or about half the proclaimed retail value of the house ($7,000). Miss O'Hair used the house as rental property until 1918; directories show tenants of short duration.

It then passed through several hands, including R. D. Shimer (Realtor), Mary G. Carr of Tulare (1919 to 1923) and T. B. Thompson (1923), before being purchased by Paulina and Willis Hills. Hills was a former newspaper publisher from Iowa, and the Hills occupied the house until the late 1920s. Before they left, however, they sold it to Mrs. Minerva Halliday in 1926.

Mrs. Halliday, born in Jackson, Mississippi a few months before the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, came to Palo Alto about 1918. When she died in 1941 her survivors included four sons, a daughter, 17 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. During the time she owned the house, occupants included herself, her daughter, Helen Wright, and Rev. J. F. Smith, head of the Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Palo Alto, among others. She deeded the house to her daughter, Helen Wright in 1934 who sold it to Calvin Arrington in 1942. He was the owner at the date of the Inventory. Mrs. Wright was a housemaid and cook employed by, among others, the Wilson family (see 860 University Avenue). Her husband, Frank, was a barber.

Second prize in the Bulletin subscription contest of 1909 was also a concrete house designed by Mitchell and built by Bosworth in Half Moon Bay. It evidently pleased E. A. Crothers, owner of the Bulletin, for in 1910 he had Bosworth build a house of the same design but twice as large at 1705 El Camino Real (demolished). It was lavishly fitted inside with oak and mahogany, marble, and ornamental sculpture and moldings by O. S. Sarsi of San Francisco. The Bulletin announced its value at $15,000 when it was to be placed on the market. However, Crothers kept the house (although he himself did not occupy it) until 1926. It then was sold to Mrs. Halliday at the time she purchased the house at 2110 Park Boulevard. Mrs. Halliday also deeded it to her daughter, Helen, in April 1941, a few days before Mrs. Halliday's death. It was demolished in 1957.

A deplorable instance of racial attitudes emerged in connection with the two houses. Six months after Mrs. Halliday's death, most of the Evergreen Park property owners signed a covenant against occupation of their property by persons—except servants—not of the white race.

figure entry
Creature at left is located under left overhang.
window tile map
Patterned tile window surround. Location map

The owners (2009) shareded the following information about their home with PAST at the 2009 Centennial Plaque presentation.

historic photo 2110 Park

The historic photo dates from when the house was just completed in 1909. It was taken from a book on concrete techniques titled The Concrete House and its Construction. Compare this with the photos taken May 31, 2009.

The most significant difference is that the original mosiac concrete tile which was on the upper half of the house is no longer present. The owners believe that some of it was removed, and some was just covered in stucco. Why, or when, is a mystery. They have some pieces of what appears to be from the upper mosiac tile that was found around the house. It is a unfired colored concrete tile similar to what still surrounds the house windows.

2110 Park side detail
entry 2110 Park
door street view
yard entry
front 2110 Park

 

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