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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

51 Encina Avenue

house barn
Restored house April 8, 2004 Unrestored barn April 8, 2004


The following is from the Historic Buildings Inventory as revised in 1986:

Physical appearance:   This two-story house with attic above is topped by a simple, wood shingled, gable roof. It has narrow clapboard siding and double hung windows with wide flat trim. The original columned front porch with its own shallow pitched roof has been enclosed with screening, but is unaltered structurally.

Significance:  This home was designed and built in 1900 by Mary Greer O'Brine, daughter of Captain John and Maria Louisa Coppinger Greer. The land was part of the Rancho Rinconada del Arroyo de San Francisquito, an 1835 Mexican land grant to Maria Louisa's father Raphael Soto, a member of the De Anza expedition.

What was once the oldest house in Palo Alto, the home of Captain John and Maria Louisa, built in 1862 and moved in 1869 to the adjacent Embarcadero Road site (the present Town and Country Village), was demolished in 1952.  The only other remaining Greer home, also a Category 2 on the Inventory, is that of Mary's brother and his wife, Joseph F. and Mary Catherine Greer, built in 1905 and located at 1517 Louisa Court.

Lucas Greer, who never married, lived in the family home until his death in 1945. throughout his life, he carried on the tradition of Spanish-style birthday celebrations which sometimes lasted as long as a week. Lucas worked as a teamster during the construction of Stanford University and hauled all the sand used to build the first Quadrangle. The Greer family property was also where traveling circuses used to pitch their tents. The Greer Family Mission Bell brand is the oldest recorded brand in the state.


house map
House Barn

This house was built in 1900 and is a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The builder was Thomas O'Brine based on his wife Mary's design. The property measures 50 by 121.19 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 5/22/96, 4/14/16, 11/5/28, 9/29/37, 9/28/45, 1/31/47, 8/9/47, 5/7/48, 1/31/52, 7/30/52, 8/8/52, 11/22/53, 8/4/55; interview, Joseph Haley Greer, 1985


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