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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

Structures on the Historic Building Inventory are selected for their contribution in one of the following areas: 

Architecture, Arts & Leisure, Economic/Industrial, Exploration/Settlement, Government, Military, Religion, or Social/Education and are placed in one of the four categories described below.

Category 1:  An "Exceptional Building" of pre-eminent national or state importance. These buildings are meritorious works of the best architects, outstanding examples of a specific architectural style, or illustrate stylistic development of architecture in the United States. These buildings have had either now exterior modifications or such minor ones that the overall appearance of the building is in its original character.

Category 2:  A "Major Building" of regional importance. These buildings are meritorious works of the best architects, outstanding examples of a specific architectural style, or illustrate stylistic development of architecture in the State or region. A major building may have some exterior modifications, but the original character is retained.

Category 3 or 4:  A "Contributing Building" which is a good local example of an architectural style and relates to the character of a neighborhood grouping in scale, materials, proportion or other factors. A contributing building may have had extensive or permanent changes made to the original design, such as inappropriate additions, extensive removal of architectural details, or wooden facades resurfaced in asbestos or stucco.

In addition to being listed in the City's inventory, a building could also be listed on the California Register of Historical Resources or the National Register of Historic Places.

Palo Alto Historic Preservation Planner

Emily Vance

Palo Alto's new Historic Preservation Planner, Emily Vance

Before joining the City of Palo Alto, where she serves the public as the Historic Preservation Planner and assists with local financial incentives, design review and other projects, Emily worked for Spokaneís Historic Preservation Office in Washington. Emily also worked for the National Park Service as an archaeologist in Redwood National Park. Other National Parks she has had the joy of working in include Grand Canyon, Acadia, Rocky Mountain and Death Valley. Additionally, Emily was a member of the US/ICOMOS International Exchange Program where she documented farmstead ruins in Scotland and worked on heritage tourism projects in the port city of Falmouth, Jamaica.

Emily received her Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Oregon. Her thesis, completed in 2014, explored the complicated relationship between universal human rights and historic preservation, focusing on the destruction of sacred space. In addition to her Masterís, Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Mississippi.

Welcome, Emily!

The City of Palo Alto also defines the concept of Historic and Architectural districts. These are areas possessing a distinct set of architectural and/or historic characteristics which are of value to the community. Two such areas have been designated: The Ramona Street Architectural District, a commercial area, and Professorville Historic District, a residential area. Properties in each of these districts are indicated in the list below.

Many of the homes on the inventory are in Professorville. Some of the listed buildings have been demolished. Click on thumbnails to see a larger image or to read more about the listing. An asterisk (*) indicates that the owner displays a centennial plaque, which is offered to buildings during their century year. Houses in Professorville that are not officially on the Historic Inventory are listed by address, but without a date or category.

In recent years many Professorville homes have been replaced. This has caused concern for the integrity of the district, and a committee was formed to create design guidelines for Professorville.

For a listing of noted architects and builders that includes architects A.B. Clark, Birge Clark, Pedro deLemos, Charles Hodges, Bernard Maybeck, Julia Morgan, A.W. Smith (Oakland), Charles K. Sumner, H.W. Weeks, William Wilson Wurster, and builders E.A. Hettinger, Gustav Laumeister, John Madsen, George W. Mosher, E.J. Schmaling, and Marcus Stedman as well as others, click here. Works by Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck, while few in number, are especially notable for their significant contributions to the Palo Alto streetscape.

Examples and descriptions of the major architectural styles represented on the buildings listed below are found at this link as well as listings of streets where you can find examples of mid-Century modern homes.

We need your help. If you have information or corrections on any property please contact the Webmaster.

The information given for the houses on the Inventory is taken from the available Palo Alto Historic Resources Inventory sheets. Where appropriate, additions or corrections have been made by PAST along with comments pertinent to the particular property.

Note:  The National Trust for Historic Preservation has some pointers for greening your historic home. At the top of the list is

KEEP ORIGINAL WINDOWS INTACT. Studies show that older windows can perform as well as vinyl replacements. Weatherstrip them so that they seal tightly, caulk the exterior trim, and repair cracked glazing or putty around glass panels. You'll reduce landfill waste and the demand for vinyl, a non-biodegradable material that gives off toxic byproducts when it's made.

For more suggestions, follow the green link! And remember, the greenest house is the one that is already built!

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