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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

1336 Cowper Street
Pettigrew House

1336 Cowper 1336 Cowper
Photo taken in 1978. Photo taken in 2009.

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

Physical appearance:   An L–shaped building roofed in red tile. The massive plane of the street facade is pierced only by the entry door and two windows covered by wrought iron grilles. A two–story section rises at the west end of the front wing. At the rear, the garden–facing walls open through numerous sets of French windows onto a paved terrace centered on a fountain. Visual elegance inside is provided by patterned tile flooring and truss/beam supports of the ceilings, incised with unusual and delicate configurations.

Significance:  This is perhaps the finest Spanish Colonial Revival building in Palo Alto. The architect, George Washington Smiith, who worked mainly in Southern California, was one of the foremost practitioners of the style.

Only two families have resided in the house since it was built. The original owners and builder was Perce L. and Laura Pettigrew. Pettigrew was a miner and partner of Henry Koster and Albert T. De Forrest. They lived in the home from when it was built in 1925 until 1970.

It was purchased in 1970 by Dr. and Mrs. H. Richard Johnson. He was president of the Watkins–Johnson Company headquartered in Palo Alto. The dossier shows approval to divide the property into less that five lots was granted August 24, 1964. In 1974, the Plemons Construction Company did the kitchen remodel.


street view
detail map


This house was built in 1925 and is a Category 1 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 25, 1980. The architect was George Washington Smith. The builder was Perce Pettigrew. The property frontage is 150 feet with an irregularly shaped lot.

Sources: . . . Gone Tomorrow?, Palo Alto AAUW; George Washington Smith Archive, UCSB; Palo Alto Times 3/7/25, 3/30/25; Santa Clara Inventory; National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form


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