It's On the House: Architecture and Artifacts

February 7, 2003 - May 25, 2003

Even the simplest structure involves a great many technologies: design, engineering, carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work, to name but a few. And even the plainest of architectural styles includes myriad details produced by these technologies. Choices of building materials (wood, stucco, brick, etc.); design elements such as tile, wrought iron and moldings; light fixtures, door knobs and hinges - all these details, and many, many more, go into making up a particular architectural style. This exhibit features a sampling of just a few types of the elements that go into a building.

In this exhibit you can observe a sampling of the architectural styles and details to be seen every day in the San Francisco Bay area and in Palo Alto in particular. Appreciate and enjoy: After all, it's "On the House!"

The architect's studio

As you enter the main gallery you'll see an architect's model of the Williams House, home of the Museum of American Heritage, and a drafting table displaying a blueprint for it. Shown are triangles, T-square and scale, classical tools of the architect, now replaced by the computer, the printer and the calculator. Don't miss the computerized virtual tour of the house, on the terminal just inside the entry door on the right hand side. It points out many fascinating architectural details of the Williams House that might easily go unnoticed.

The architectural flavor of Palo Alto is influenced by the work of many notable designers , including (but certainly not limited to) Birge Clark, Joseph Eichler, Julia Morgan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ernest Coxhead, Edward Durell Stone and Pedro de Lemos.

Architectures of Palo Alto

Panels illustrate the progression of several types of architectural styles typical in Palo Alto and surrounding towns, including Queen Anne, Shingle, Tudor, Colonial Revival, Neoclassical, Monterey Revival, Arts & Crafts, Spanish Eclectic and California Modern. Architects and builders who were especially important in this area are highlighted, including Birge Clark, Pedro de Lemos, and Joseph Eichler.

Building Materials

Many types of building materials , including clinker bricks, slates, clay roofing and redwood gutters, are found on the case in the center of the room.

Details, details

It is the details that provide the "architexture" and visual interest inside and outside a structure and elaborate the distinguishing features of an architectural style.

Eyes on Eichler

Of the 2,380 dwellings built in Palo Alto in 1952, most were Eichler homes selling at $11,000 to $14,000. At one time half of the single-family houses in Palo Alto were said to be Eichler homes ; their signature glass window walls, low slope or flat roofs, post-and-beam structure, natural materials and extended roof overhangs are recognizable features of the residential landscape throughout the San Francisco Bay area. About 3,000 Eichler homes of various vintage remain in Palo Alto today. Here is a re-creation of a '50s Eichler kitchen, complete with cabinets, appliances, dishware, silverware and table linens.

The Eclectic Architecture of a Palo Alto neighborhood

"Eclectic Styles of our Neighborhood" is the featured attraction here. You'll take a mini-tour of Homer Avenue between Alma and Cowper and see photos and artifacts from homes and businesses including the GM auto dealership, the Polly and Jake House, St. Thomas Aquinas Church and the HP garage and residence

Whimsical design

Palo Alto and surrounding communities are graced by eye-catching and often whimsical external decoration and detail. Here are a few examples, all visible from the street and worthy of a driving tour around town. Bring your camera!

Special note

In conjunction with the celebration of Preservation Week 2003, PAST (Palo Alto Stanford Heritage) announced May 10, 2003 the granting of the PAST Education Award to the Museum of American Heritage for its current exhibit, "It's On the House: Artifacts and Architecture".

Credits and Acknowledgements

Photography: Wayland Lee, Bob Katzive, Theodora Nelson

Our Special Thanks

The Museum is indebted to many individuals for this exhibit. We commend and thank in particular:

Monty Anderson and Cody Anderson Wasney Architects, who provided experience, expertise, guidance and exhibit materials.

Mark and K.C. Marcinik for the recreation of the Eichler kitchen

MOAH thanks the following for their contributions to this exhibit: A & B Roofing, Marty Arbunich/Eichler Network, Beth Bunnenberg, James Dawes, Ellen Harrington, Karen Holman, Doris Hoover, Nancy Huber, Katie Gutierrez, Millie Mario, Art Notthoff, Palo Alto Historical Association, Monroe Postman, Jana and Chris Stevens, SummerHill Homes, Bill Wehrend, Tom and Ellen Wyman and all the members of the MOAH Exhibits Committee.

Back To Top This page last updated: December 28, 2004
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