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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

1055 Cowper Street

Ralston House

inventory 1055 Cowper
Photo taken in 1978. Photo taken in 2010.

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

Physical appearance:   This superb courtyard house has been drastically altered, but the extensive layout with numerous scrolled parapet–gables still projects a convincing Mission Revival atmosphere. The open porch which originally ran across the front has been enclosed and the entrance has been much changed. It is one– story and surfaced in stucco.

Significance:  Even with its altered porch, this is one of the finest and earliest Mission Revival designs in the city. Built in 1910 for Mrs. Margaret Detels, who came to the city so her son could attend Stanford, in 1925 it became the home of Judge Jackson H. Ralston (1857–1972). Ralston was born in Sacramento, the son of a prominent Illinois jurist and politician. Before retiring to Palo Alto, Ralston developed a distinguished career in international law in Washington, D.C. In Palo Alto he remained active as a counselor for the American Federation of Labor, writer and speaker on national and state public affairs and humanitarian issues. His wife, Opal (1885–1972), was notably active in local organizations.

After 1954, the house was occupied by Mrs. Edith Goodall (to 1969) and John Fejervary (1970–1975), an emigrant from Hungary who was president of a San Jose epoxy manufacturing corporation and a nationally–rated contract bridge player. The owners at the time of the Inventory were William and Susan Beall.

The style is rather uncommon in Palo Alto, and its use in family residences is relatively unusual. However, its relationship to the predominant Spanish Colonial Revival styles of the city help to integrate it into the architectural makeup of the area.

1055 Cowper detail
side view
garage map


This house was built in 1910 and is a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The builder was probably George W. Mosher, the only local builder definitely know to have used the style, on a smaller scale in 1908–09 at 215 and 225 Fulton, 575 Hawthorne, and 379 Lytton, all included on the Inventory. The property measures 100 by 150 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 12/30/10, 6/12/20, 10/13/45, 12/7/72, 6/17/78; interviews 1983, Mary Phillips, Susan Beall; Who Was Who in America, (Ralston)


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