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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

640 Fulton Street

inventory photo 640
Inventory photo Photos taken May 24, 2016


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

Physical appearance:  This crisply detailed vernacular house has a wrap-around porch with turned columns. The original railings have been removed. 

Significance:  This is an almost-intact example of typical middle class housing in the early days of Palo Alto. It was built for Henry Wade-Mahany, who purchased lots at the first land auction for what became Palo Alto. While awaiting completion of the house, the family moved into the new barn and set to work planting a fruit orchard. Wade-Mahany had been a restaurant owner in San Francisco, but engaged in the wood and coal business in Palo Alto until about 1905 when, after the deaths of wife and daughter, he left the city.

In 1910 the house was moved [pushed?] from its 633 Middlefield Road location to its present site, and turned to face Fulton. At that time it was owned and occupied by R. P. Kavanaugh, who soon was succeeded by other occupants.

Few resided in it for more that a short time. The longest tenure (1950 – 1967) was that of Wray A. Torrey. He was followed by Rhoda Robinson who was still there in 1984.


porch 640

This house was built in 1895 and is a Category 4 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The builder is unknown. The property measures 49 by 85 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 4/8/02, 2/26/08, 10/28/10, 2/25/50; Palo alto Historical Association biography file Wade-Mahany; Palo Alto AAUW, ...Gone Tomorrow:?, p. 17


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