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1991 Holiday House Tour: Professorville Historic District




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From the December 11, 1991 Palo Alto Weekly:

Always longed for a gorgeous old Professorville home? PAST–Palo Alto Stanford Heritage offers its Fourth Annual Holiday House Tour of five homes in Palo Alto's historic Professorville district on Sat., Dec. 15. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., you can travel back in time to 1899, when these homes were built by Stanford University's first professors, who kept elements of the Midwestern and Eastern styles they left behind, while rebelling against the highly decorative Victorian architecture that ruled the day.

The district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and features many Craftsman style homes, typically covered with brown shingles and wood trim. Tickets may be purchased at the first house on the tour, at 345 Lincoln Ave., Palo Alto. While single tickets can be had for $15, a $25 donation entitles new and renewing members of PAST to a pair of tour tickets.


1130 Bryant — 1904

This 1904 chalet is considered a good example of a Craftsman variant design that is rare in Palo Alto. Its first occupant, Professor Karl J. Rendtorff, came to Stanford from Germany in 1893 for graduate study. After receiving his Ph.D., Rendtorff stayed to teach in the German Department until he retired in 1929. Today the house is owned by Alice Erben, a documentary filmmaker, and Robert Steinberg, an architect. The Steinbergs have made three remodels to their home in 12 years. Remodeling included custom details to the trim, siding and windows to reflect the character of the period during which the house was built.

        1130 Bryant

Inventory sheet



1129 Emerson — 1908

This shingled Craftsman house is a fine example of the builder's bungalow, performing an important role in the visual background of its block. The house was commissioned by Mrs. W.H. Fowler who lived nearby at 221 Kingsley. It was built by Gustav Laumeister. Colonel Jacob Kreps occupied the house from 1913 to 1918. From 1923 to 1937, the Egerton Lakin family owned the house. Lakin served on the City Council and presided over the Chamber of Commerce and the Masonic Lodge, played leading roles in the Community Players' productions, and attended every Big Game at Stanford from 1902 to 1967. From 1938 to 1952, the house was owned by Professor Philip Buck, a distinguished specialist in comparative government.

The 1991 owners were Karen and Larry Holman who had lived in the house since 1986. The Holmans had done extensive renovation to their shingled Craftsman.

        1129 Emerson

Inventory sheet


433 Kingsley — 1892

This shingled house was built for Joseph and Katherine Kellogg Hutchinson and is considered an exceptionally elegant fusion of 19th century forms and motifs. A remodel done in 1903 was the work of builder Gustav Laumeister. A single palm tree stands in the front yard today where a palm-lined drive once circled past the entrance. Jospeh Hutchinson was the first president of the Palo Alto Improvement Club, organized in 1892. From its efforts came plank sidewalks, gravel streets, schools, water works, electricity, a street railway, and eventually, town incorporation. Between 1935 and 1949 the house belonged to Michael and Sarah Stein. Stein's sister Gertrude visited him when she came to lecture at Stanford in 1935.

Extensive interior redecoration took place in 1984 when the house served as a Designers' Showcase. That same year, Janet Da Foe and Ronald Davis purchased the house and, in the years since, have opened it many times for charitable events. Ms. Da Foe has interviewed acquaintances of the Steins and learned that the couple often gave away Picasso sketches to their guests. Marc Chagall was once a guest in the house.


Inventory sheet


345 Lincoln — 1893

The home at 345 Lincoln Avenue is a Colonial Revival structure designed by Professor A.B. Clark, father of Birge Clark, and built in 1893 by George Mosher for Charles Benjamin Wing, a professor of civil engineering at Stanford from 1892 to 1945. A tall tank house (now attached) once stood over a cooperative well shared by the "Big Four" professors, Angell, C.D. Marx, Murray and Wing, as well as neighbor W.W. Thoburn. Professor Wing was Mayor of Palo Alto when President Theodore Roosevelt attended a rally on the Plaza.

Harlan and Jeannette Remmel purchased the house in 1954. Mrs. Remmel's father had been an acquaintance of the Wings and helped the professor with various engineering experiments. As a child, Mrs. Remmel passed the Wing house on her way to Addison school. Like the Wings, the Remmels raised six children in the house.

Note: The house was sold in 2009 and underwent major restoration.

    345 Lincoln before restoration

Inventory sheet


1432 Webster — 1914

Be sure not to miss this shingled bungalow with its shallow gables and cluster windows. It is well worthh the added walk to see what is considered such a fine example of the Craftsman style. The house was built for Dr. Jerome and Mrs. Mary Denison Thomas. Mrs. Thomas was elected to the City Council—the first woman to hold that office—and was influential in the city's purchase of the marshland property on the Bay. Dr. Thomas was an optometrist who served as a medical officer in the Philippines.

The Thomas house was purchased in 1978 by Linda and Jerry Diamond. The Diamonds recently remodeled the kitchen in keeping with the classic Crafstman bungalow style. The interior of the house features built–in window seats and bookcases and a fireplace hood made of pierced metal.


2014 photo

Inventory sheet

1991 HHT map


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