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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

423 University Avenue

inventory photo 423 University
Inventory photo Photo taken May 2, 2015


The following is from the Historic Buildings Inventory 1978 and 1985:

Physical appearance:   This unpicturesque commercial structure successfully uses terra cotta ornament to lend opulence to the façade. There have been some changes in upper and lower front façades.

Significance:  This small but ornamental structure provides an accent to the urban street scape and, like several of the buildings across from it, was designed by the city's leading architect of the period. The site was occupied originally about 1896 by the residence of Samuel and Frances H. Patterson. Patterson, a descendant of the New England Puritan minister Thomas Hecker, had come to California during the Gold Rush. In 1859, he was secretary to Senator David C. Broderick when the latter was mortally wounded in a duel at Lake Merced (San Francisco) by Judge David S. Terry. Patterson returned to New York for many years, then came to Palo Alto in 1895, dying here in 1920. His son, Henry, was a Stanford graduate (1900) and a Palo Alto accountant.

Succeeding the Pattersons in 1915 was Louis M. Eaton, a church organist from the mid-West who was organist in 1901 at Trinity Church in San Francisco and, 1913, Stanford. His widow, Emma, sold the house in 1925, and soon afterward sisters Jennie Lawson and Annie Plymire commissioned the design and construction of the present building. First occupied by the Wilson Ellis hardware store, for several decades from 1930 onward it was the location of the Gold Seal Creamery.

In 1934, alterations to the building were made by the Smith-Burke Company. The owner when the Inventory sheet was prepared was Barbara F. Steele.


423 University
2015 photo Location map

This structure was built in 1927 and is a Category 3 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The architect was Birge Clark and the builder was Wells P. Goodenough. The property measures 25 by 110 feet.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 2/2/1904,m11/16/1918, 9/11/1920, 6/25/1927, 7/29/1927, 8/16/1934, 2/27/1942, 5/8/1950' interview with Birge Clark, 1985.


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