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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

705 Forest Avenue

Originally 659 Middlefield Road

inventory 705
Inventory photo Photo taken January 26, 2016


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

Physical appearance:   The ground floor serves as a massive base for the second floor hip-roofed pavilion. classical columns, a Craftsman trellis, arches, and salomonic colonnettes provide decorative enrichment. There is a stylistically unrelated addition in the rear, and some surface details of the front and side entries have been altered.

Significance:  Eclectic design and substantial scale characterize this example of upper middle-class residential building of the period. J. W. and Mae Tamplin, the first owners, and J. W. Balcomb, the builder, were close associates in the Palo Alto First Methodist Church; Tamplin was a retired San Francisco printer and manufacturer.

When the Tamplins gave up the house in 1929, it was occupied for five years by Jesse E. and Ruth A. Hayes. Then, from 1936 to 1971, it was the home of Roy S. and Helen Pryor. The Pryors began a long career in public service soon after marriage in the early 1920s when they went as missionaries to China. Mrs. Pryor, who had her medical degree from the University of Minnesota, opened a clinic, and Mr. Pryor became a high school principal. They were forced to return as refugees in 1927.

Pryor then took a position with Menlo School, rising to the ranks of dean and vice-president. He was on the national staff of American Red cross during World War II. Afterwards, he was organizer and executive for several retirement residences and served on numerous boards and commissions in agencies dealing with the aged and needy. Dr. Helen Pryor was in private practice, emphasizing pediatrics. For a time she was director of women's health services at Stanford and was Chief of Pediatrics at Sequoia Hospital. She was involved in numerous philanthropic and medical organizations, author of many technical articles and a book on Lou Henry Hoover, and recipient of national awards for distinguished service.

The house serves as an office for the owner, Robert Trent Jones III.


sign map

This house was built in 1922 and is a Category 3 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The builder was Palo Alto Construction Co., J. W. Balcomb, Mgr. The property measures 112.5 by 100 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 4/15/22, 5/1/22, 7/7/45, 9/8/46, 7/8/72, 9/19/84; photo of original building with contractor's sign, Robert Trent Jones III files


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