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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

601 - 603 Melville Avenue / 1261 Webster Street

Theophilus Allen House

inventory photo 601 Melville
Inventory photo Photo taken 2016 showing restoration


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

Physical appearance:   This large shingled Craftsman house features a horizontal street façade composition, many gables, and a tower. The tower configuration is quite unusual in this context. In 1986, the second–floor balcony was enclosed. The tower is capped by a hovering hipped roof, but the rest of the roof is gabled. Some of the windows have diamond muntin patterns in their upper portions. The house has been mistakenly attributed to the Greene Brothers.

Significance:  A superb variation on the Craftsman theme, notable for its combinations of triple gables, gambrel–roofed wind, and tower at one side of the front. Descendants of the original owner passed on the attribution of the design to Charles and Henry Greene, but the documentation has not yet been located. However, plans exist done by A. W. Smith and dated May 30, 1905. Smith had already built at least three substantial homes in the city (430 Kingsley, 1201 Waverley (today 1207 Waverley), 301 Addison) with Gustav Laumeister as contractor.

Soon after completion, it was "considered by many to be the most attractive home in Palo Alto". The house was built for Theophilus and Ila Lane Allen. He was involved in mining interests and was a Christian Science practitioner. Part of the ground floor was arranged as a separate apartment, entered at 1261 Webster and occupied in the early years by the C. D. Lanes, Mrs. Allen's parents. About 1930, the "dairy wing" at the side rear, which stretched toward the barn on Byron Street, was remodeled as an apartment. The Allen family owned the house until the mid–fifties. In 1961 C. H. and Gladys Woodhams purchased the home and maintained it until their heirs sold it in 2011.

Note: Here's the link to the Allen and Lane famly website.

Note:   The house is protected from demolition by a preservation easement held by Palo Alto Stanford Heritage. The current owners, Dan and Allison Rose, worked with Aino Vieira da Rosa, Architect, Sarah Wart, Landscape Design, Jon de la Cruz, Interior Design, and NorthWall Builders to carefully restore and reinforce the home both inside and out. In 2017, it was awarded a Palo Alto Stanford Heritage Historic Restoration Award.

plaque entry
interior stairs
fireplace side view
roof map
cottage 1261 Webster entry
Cottage 1261 Webster entry

This house was built in 1905 and is a Category 1 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The architect probably was A. W. Smith of Oakland; the builder probably was Gustav Laumeister. The property measures 120 by 150 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 1/5/06, 3/16/08, 11/26/29, 2/27/37, 12/28/55; AAUW, ...Gone Tomorrow?, p. 53; Palo Alto Historical Association archives: Allen house plans


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