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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

1247 Cowper Avenue
Charles and Kathleen Norris Residence

inventory color photo
Photo taken in 1978. Photo taken in 2012.

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

Physical appearance:   The Norris house is a large residence planned around the working requirements of two writers. The basic form of the building is a large U embracing three sides of a entry courtyard whose remaining side is walled against the street. There is a large amount of very fine decorative tile and iron work. There have been minor alterations occasioned by the change from private residence to the Newman Club, a religious student center. It was since been returned to its status as a private residence.

Significance:  The Norris house is a superb example of Spanish Colonial Revival style and it is the most elaborate design of its architect, Birge Clark. The original owners for whom it was built were notable authors Charles Gilman Norris (1881–1945) and Kathleen Norris (1880–1966). The Norrisses bought the lot and house then on it from Frank C. ("Baron") Thiele, the Austrian tailor who began business in Palo Alto in 1897. Additional information and description are in Birge Clark's "Notes on the Norris House".

Note: At the time of the Inventory, the owner was the Roman Catholic Welfare Corp. of San Francisco and the house served as the Newman Club for Stanford University. Since then, it has been restored to private residential use.

Spanish Kitchen
gate back
wroght iron fixture map


This house was built in 1927 and is a Category 1 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The architect was Birge Clark. The builder was Wells P. Goodenough; Herman Bleibler did the iron work and the tile design was the work of A. L. Solon. The property measures 100 by 150 feet.

Sources: Clark, notes on the Norris House, Clark, Residential Inventory, Palo Alto Times 8/5/27, 12/23/27, 7/28/47, 7/31/47, 8/2/48


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