PAST Logo Palo Alto Stanford Heritage

Home Architects & Builders  Holiday House Tour Newsletters Walking Tours
About PAST Centennial Houses INVENTORY Preservation Awards Contact PAST
Advocacy History and Architecture Articles   Master Index to Houses Resources Join / Donate

Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

1950 Cowper Street
Ruth Stern Residence

inventory photo 1950 Cowper
Photo taken in 1978. Photo taken in 2012.

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

Physical appearance:   This long, low Spanish Colonial Revival house, one of a pair built for a mother and daughter client duo, presents a massive street facade with wrought iron window grilles. The landscaping treats the two houses as a single entity.

Significance:  Lucie Stern has the house built for her daughter Ruth. John and Frances Arrillaga purchased the property in 1978 for $1,000,000 and sold for $30 million in July 2015. (, Sept. 24, 2015.) 

The 4,721 square foot home with 3 bedrooms and 4.5 baths was purchased by Google CFO Ruth Porat, who was born in Cheshire, England and moved to Palo Alto where her father worked for SLAC. Coincidentally, Ruth shares her first name with Ruth Stern, Lucie’s daughter, who died in 1972.

This is a superb example of the style by a major local architect, Birge Clark, and with 1990 Cowper, is an important piece of neighborhood planning.


door 1950




This house was built in 1932 and is a Category 1 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The architect was Birge Clark. The builder was Wells Goodenough. Landscaping by Leslie Kiler. The property measures 143 by 247 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto Times 11/28/31, 7/13/32, 1/18/46, 2/21/72; Palo Alto AAUW, ...Gone Tomorrow?; Birge Clark, "An Architect Grows Up in Palo Alto", 1984, p. 41–56, 65


FaceBook f

E-mail us at either or

PAST Logo Palo Alto Stanford Heritage—Dedicated to the preservation of Palo Alto's historic buildings.