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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

1451 Cowper Street
Elwell Residence

inventory stairs
Photo taken in 1978. Photo taken in 2006.

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

Physical appearance:   This one–story shingled Craftsman cottage is capped by a hovering hip–roof form. The front porch has been enclosed. Note: In recent years, an access ramp has been added.

Significance:  This modest building is a typical builder's product, and is an example of background building which contributes strongly to Palo Alto's overall image. It was built by and for C. L. Buckman and soon sold (1908) to Cyril F. Elwell (1885–1963). Elwell had graduated from Stanford the year before and his interest in electrical communication led him at once to convert the kitchen into a machine shop and erect two 75–foot wooden masts. From them he transmitted signals to a similar installation in Los Altos—the first West Coast wireless telephone.

During the next four years, Elwell founded the Poulsen Radio Corp., then the Federal Telegraph Co.; brought together Lee DeForest and other collaborators whose inventions laid the foundation for modern electronics technology; and launched his career as world–wide leader in radio communication and engineering. After World War II he returned to the area, residing in Los Altos almost within eyesight of the industrial center of electronics.

A series of families occupied the house for brief periods after Elwell left in 1914. In 1936–1944 it was owned by Jerome B. and Clara D. Stanford. Stanford was a nephew of Leland Stanford, who came with his uncle to California in gold–rush days and became a San Francisco business man.

The present [1979] owners, John and Jewell Konrady purchased the house in 1946.

2012 photo house number
Handicap railing added in 2012
2006 photo street view
1451 map


This house was built in 1906 and is a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The builder was C. L. Buckman. The property measures 95 by 100+ feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 7/24/1906, 8/8/1906, 9/16/1906, 4/19/1929, 9/1/1982, Cyril F. Elwell, Letters to Editor, 1/9/53, 9/15/55; Palo Alto Historical Association, Tall Tree, "The First Fifty Years of Electronic Research" (Vo. 1, No. 9, May 1958); interview 1981, John Konrady


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