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Palo Alto Historic Buildings Inventory

939 University Avenue

inventory photo 939 University
Inventory photo Photo taken June 20, 2015


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

Physical appearance:   This classical Revival house is a very severe, symmetrical box with a concentration of ornament at the entrance. the primary feature of decorative interest is a pair of urn-like finials. The two-story structure has a shallow hop roof and is surfaced in stucco. Two windowed wings extend from either side of the house. Columns support the small entrance canopy. The principal visual attribute of this minimally-decorative building is its formalistic presence in its garden setting.

Significance:  This is a restrained but elegant example of a formal residential style. It was built for Mrs. E. C. Hughes and Mrs. Martin J. (Elizabeth) Kennedy, sisters. They owned the house until the early 1950s.

Walter H. Baer, an accountant, occupied it from 1953 to 1960, and then Meyer and Hannah Scher.

The symmetrical composition adds to the formality of the structure. The large symmetrically-designed garden provides a setting for the house that contributes to its considerable presence. The building type is not unusual in the city, but this rendition is one of the more impressive representatives.

It is underwent restoration in 2016.


939 street view map

This house was built in 1916 and is a Category 2 on the Historic Buildings Inventory. The architect was John R. Branner and the builder was George Jacobsen. The property measures 100 by 200 feet. It is recognized as a Landmark Building.

Sources: Palo Alto City Directories; Palo Alto Times 4/25/1916, 1/2/1917, 12/4/1948.


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