PAST Logo Palo Alto Stanford Heritage

Home Architects & Builders  Holiday House Tour Newsletters Walking Tours
About PAST Centennial Houses INVENTORY Preservation Awards Contact PAST
Advocacy History and Architecture Articles   Master Index to Houses Resources Join / Donate

Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

1517 Louisa Court

inventory photo 1517 Luisa
Inventory photo Photo taken March 25, 2005


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

Physical appearance:   The form of this two-story  house is essentially a rectangular box. The vernacular structure has a hipped roof and is surfaced in ship-lap siding. Some Classic Revival detailing and decorative balustrades provide the primary ornamentation. A second-story corner balcony and a first floor columned and balustraded porch are principal elements of the facade composition. An extension of the structure has been made at the rear of the house. The side of the house faces the street, and the original facade is now hidden by a more recent house and landscaping. Windows and porch may have been somewhat altered.

Significance:  Built in 1905, the house represents a link with the earliest history of Palo Alto. Joseph Greer, the builder of the house, was one of the first settlers of the area and of primary importance to the history of the region.

Greer was the son of John Greer, an Irish sea captain who came to San Francisco in 1850. He married Maria Luisa Soto Coppinger whose father, Rafael Soto, was the holder of a Spanish land grant occupied by him in 1835 and known as Rancho Rinconada de Arroyo de San Francisquito. This grant covered the area from the great redwood on the creek to the marshy baylands, south to approximately Colorado Avenue over to El Camino Real and back to the tall tree.

After California became a state, Greer applied to the U.S. Land Commission seeking confirmation of Rafael Soto's original grant, but his petition was denied. During this litigation Thomas and Henry Seale, contractors in San Francisco, became acquainted with John Greer and offered to take up his cause in return for a piece of the property. In 1865 Henry Seale obtained confirmation of the grant and was rewarded with approximately 1400 acres of the Soto property. Thus, Seale and Greer became the major property holders in what is now Palo Alto.

In 1897, Timothy Hopkins, the adopted son of Mark Hopkins, bought over 700 acres of land from Seale and Greer, acting as agent for Leland Stanford. This land became original Palo Alto. Greer Road preserves the name of this early family.

The Greer family tenure ended in 1961. Subsequent occupants included Robert Ryan (1963 – 1973), and David C. Duisenbert (1974 – 1979) before Jack R. and Sandra S. Cate.


corner windows
1517 map

This house was built in 1905 and is a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The builder was Joseph Greer. The property measures 80 by 125 feet.

Sources:  AAUW, . . . Gone Tomorrow?


FaceBook f

E-mail us at either or

PAST Logo Palo Alto Stanford Heritage—Dedicated to the preservation of Palo Alto's historic buildings.