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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

950 University Avenue

De Forest Residence

inventory photo 950
Inventory photo Photo taken


The following is from the Historic Buildings Inventory as revised in 1984:

Physical appearance:   This large Craftsman house has a shingled lower floor and stucco upper floor. A clinker brick chimney and superb trees complete the rustic image. There is a stable in the same style. At later dates, the porch was partially filled in, and brickwork was introduced at the front steps. The original shingles of the roof were replaced by tile in 1984, when extensive interior renovation and exterior re-landscaping and fencing also were carried out by the owners, James and Nancy Miller.

Significance:  A good example of the Craftsman house with mature, harmonious landscaping. the first owners, Albert t. and Lettie w. De Forest (uncle and aunt of the electrical innovator, Lee De Forest) occupied it until 1944. He was head of Columbia Steel (U. S. Steel Products) Co. from 1903 to 1933. They were followed by William D. and Helen Lucas, 1946 - 1959; Lucas was on the speech and drama faculty at Stanford. From 1962 - 1969 it served as a rooming house (Prince Valiant Residence Club).


garrage/stable drive
gate map
Location map

This house was built in 1908 and is a Category 4 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The architect was Roy H. Heald, based on a plan by T. Paterson Ross for 861 University*, the builder was Gustav Laumeister, and landscaping was by Thomas Church. The property measures 150 by 200 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times12/24/1908, 7/26/1923, 10/23/1937, 1/28/1952, 4/1/1970, 2/24/1973 (Peninsula Living section); Dallas E. Wood, History of Palo Alto,  Palo Alto, 1939, p. 275-6; interview, 1984 with Nancy Miller.

* According to Dorothy Regnery, De Forest first lived at 861 University and requested that plan be closely followed for this house.

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