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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

734 Ramona Street

inventory photo
734 Ramona
Inventory photo HRB photo taken 1986


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

Physical appearance:   This commercial building, which runs through from Ramona to Emerson Streets, displays restrained features of Classical Revival decorative detail, most visibly remaining on the Ramona Street façade; only traces remain on the Emerson street frontage, which has been remodeled in recent times [1978].

Significance:  An industrial building set off from the average by Classical Revival façade detail. Until the mid-forties, the owners utilized the Emerson Street frontage as the entry for Grant Ritscher auto repair shop; then the repair shop entry was shifted by Warren May to the Ramona Street end.

From 1942-1975, the Indian Bowl (bowling alley) was in the building, with entry on Emerson Street. Though not the first, it was the most successful and long-lasting bowling alley in Palo Alto, losing ground only in late years to student center alleys at nearby colleges and alleys introduced into the newer outlying commercial tracts.

After Indian Bowl closed, Baker Graphics occupied its space and then extended their operations through from Emerson to Ramona.

The architect/builder, Ralph Follmer, according to his son Frank, had architectural training, and unless the client had an architect, designed the buildings he constructed.

The owner in 1985 was Thomas Harrington.


  734 Ramona HRB photo
HRB photo taken 1986
735 Emerson map
735 Emerson Street (2012 photo) Location map

This building was built in 1926 and is a Category 4 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The original architect/builder was Ralph Follmer and remodeling in 1940 for the bowling alley made by Howell Engineering Co. The property measures 50 by 225  feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 3/24/26, 5/22/40, 8/6/40; Palo Alto Historical Association file on bowling alleys; interview 1985, Thomas Harrington, Palo Alto Building Department files; interview 1986, Frank Follmer.


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