There are still some original adobe houses in Silicon Valley!

It’s possible to live in Silicon Valley and have no idea that there are still some original adobe houses to be found right here in the San Jose area. Today, though, I hope to help some of our residents discover the past which is lurking right in front of us!

The historic Adobe Woman’s Club is just a block or two off the campus of Santa Clara University, tucked away on a side street now that The Alameda is re-routed as The El Camino.  Address: 3260 The Alameda, Santa Clara.  According to the state’s historical preservation site, this state landmark # 249 is one of the oldest in the Santa Clara Valley, was built between 1792 and 1800 and was one of many row houses built for the native Americans who worked at Mission Santa Clara.  Please note that this is private property and you may not enter without permission, but the adobe abode is very visible from the sidewalk.

Today the beautifully preserved adobe house functions as a nonprofit group with these objectives: “to promote educational, moral, social welfare, cultural, civic and community service.  Anyone who supports these objectives is welcome.”  This scenic place can also be rented out for private events.  The garden is quite lovely and the interior appears to be very modern.  You can see photos of the inside of the house at the club’s website: The Santa Clara Woman’s Club.

(more…)

What styles of homes are popular in Santa Clara County today?

What's Your Home's Style?While most of Santa Clara County (and Silicon Valley too) is filled with ranch style homes, there’s more to the South Bay than the typical rambler. Some areas, such as Los Gatos, Willow Glen, and Palo Alto, seem to be a magnet for diverse types of architecture. Our local multiple listing service, MLSListings.com, includes the following categories for these varied types of homes.  It’s not a perfect list, of course, as several of them have a few sub types (think Spanish and Victorian especially).  Perhaps rather than Eichler, which is a prominently known mid-century modern home, the category should have been the broader mid-century modern, since there are many which are similar but cannot be attributed to Eichler in particular.  In any event, here’s the list:

Cabin
Cape Cod
Colonial
Contemporary
Cottage/Bungalow
Country English
Craftsman
Eichler
French
Georgian
Mediterranean
Modern/High Tech
Ranch
Spanish
Traditional
Tudor
Victorian

Today I was wondering which of these types is “in style”, making them sell faster?   (more…)

How Old Are Homes in San Jose & Silicon Valley?

white horse fenceMany newcomers to the San Jose & Silicon Valley areas want to buy new homes (or newer ones).  Santa Clara County, though, had a big “building boom” after World War II ranging from the 1940s through the 70s.  At the end of the building frenzy, most of the land was taken.  More importantly, most of the really good land was built up.

How old is the “average” San Jose home for sale?  Probably about 45 – 50 years old, on average.  Depending on where you’re looking, precisely, the homes could be younger or older on average.

There are some nice communities of new and younger homes in Silicon Valley, but there aren’t a lot of them.  Most of the new home communities have houses on small lots.  Some are near high voltage power lines (homes on Taft in San Jose’s Cambrian Park area) or next to freeways (Summerhill development off Samaritan Drive in San Jose).

(more…)

Saratoga, CA, homes for sale in downtown, Saratoga Village location: what you need to know

Cinnabar winery sign (Big Basin Way, Saratoga)

Cinnabar winery sign (Big Basin Way, Saratoga)

In many communities such as Saratoga, Los Gatos, Los Altos, Willow Glen, Campbell and Palo Alto, there is a high premium placed on homes which are close to the downtown area.  Many real estate agents advertise these as “walk to town” but the idea is simple: it’s nearby, you can stroll, skate, ride or bike, wheel yourself and forget the car.

Downtown Saratoga, also called Saratoga Village
, welcomes residents and visitors to a charming, scenic area with fabulous shops, spas, wine tasting venues, restaurants and more.  This part of the city boasts top scoring schools as well as lovely older and historic buildings and a gorgeous park alongside Saratoga Creek. Whether you spend an afternoon or a lifetime in Saratoga, this part of town will call you back again and again!

What do you need to know about buying a house, townhouse or condo in downtown Saratoga?

There are a few points which you are well served to know when purchasing residential real estate in this upscale community. We’ll touch on a few of them here: historic homes, traffic & noise, natural hazards, parking, and special issues with condos, townhouses and PUDs (planned unit developments).

First, this downtown Saratoga Village zone is historic; while not every property is deemed historic, many are and that means that there will be restrictions on remodeling and expansion of single family homes or houses. For instance, original glass in windows may need to remain if you’ve got a Victorian house dating from the 1890s, and expansions may need to be off the back of the home so that the facade keeps its initial look and feel (just examples).  This can be frustrating if you buy a luxury home that “needs work” and you are surprised later. If the house was built before 1950 or so, double check the rules! (more…)

Beautiful Spanish Style Homes for Sale in Silicon Valley

Spanish style houses evoke a kind of nostalgia for “old California”, and when we think of local history, homes with a Spanish type of architecture seem most appropriate, especially if the landscaping reinforces it – things like bougainvillea, hibiscus, ferns, palms, roses and citrus trees.

California features different types of Spanish style homes

There are a number of Spanish styles found locally and throughout California: Spanish Colonial Revival, Spanish Mission, Spanish Eclectic, Mediterranean, and Monterey, which is the only archietectural style hailing from California (and admittedly is a hybrid).

Where to find classic, older Spanish style homes in Silicon Valley

Some neighborhoods, like downtown San Jose’s Japantown and many of the older areas in Willow Glen, are filled with beautiful Spanish Revival bungalows which were mainly built in the 1920s and 1930s. The largest collection is probably there, close to Lincoln Avenue and near Bird & Minnesota Avenues, and especially in the “Palm Haven” neighborhood of Willow Glen.

More can be found in the older parts of San Jose’s Alum Rock Park (up by the country club), in Santa Clara’s oldest neighborhood (by the university), in downtown Los Gatos and downtown Palo Alto, more in south county, especially Gilroy, and scattered throughout the Santa Clara Valley.

What about newer Spanish style homes in Silicon Valley?

There are some newer houses and homes with a Spanish flair, but for the most part it’s limited to the exterior (or “elevation”). The interiors of most Spanish style homes built since 1950 are not at all Spanish style. There were a number of Spanish style tract homes built in the 70s and 80s, but they are essentially ranch style homes with a Mediterranean elevation only.

Too often, the very newest homes don’t seem to know what style they’re trying to reflect at all, but tile and stucco and a few arches are thrown in to attempt something generically Mediterranean. In the last 20 years, many builders have created neighborhoods with varying home styles – the same floor plans but varying styles on the exterior such that one is pseudo Spanish, another is pseudo Craftsman, another is pseudo English cottage or Tudor. Home buyers may get to choose which “style” they want if they get in before it’s built.

Resources for Spanish style homes in the San Jose area

Fabulous books can be found to help restore and remodel these homes. Older houses need remodeling for practical reasons, and the younger ones can benefit from it to make them more authentically Spanish styled.

Meanwhile, if you love Spanish style homes of all ages, you’ll find plenty of classic older ones around here (all pre-1950). Unfortunately this search tool does not allow me to constrain results to the style of home, so there will be some Victorians and Arts and Crafts homes in the mix below.

 

 

For more reading:
Spanish Revival Style Home in Japantown Features Classic Tile Bathroom

 

 

 

St Martin of Tours School’s 15th Annual Rose Garden Home Tour

The St Martin of Tours School’s annual tour of beautiful homes in San Jose’s Rose Garden district is happening this weekend.  It’s a fabulous opportunity to see gracious homes, attractively decorated and remodeled, and to support the school.

If you’re new to Silicon Valley and are unfamiliar with the area, the school (and Church) are close to O’Connor Hospital (which is close to Valley Fair Mall).  The Rose Garden District is close by, surrounding the San Jose municipal park bearing the name of Municipal Rose Garden. It’s considered part of “central San Jose” and has the zip code 95126. This area, along with nearby Shasta-Hanchett, has some gorgeous older homes. Many of the streets are wide and tree lined. This neighborhood is convenient to both major nearby freeways (280 and 880) so is a great commute location. It’s an area with enduring popularity.

 

View Larger Map

For all the details, please see their Rose Garden Homes Tour website.

 

 

 

Historic Hanna House at Stanford University

Last Sunday, my husband, Jim, and I had the pleasure of attending the Stanford University Historic Homes Tour, which happens annually.  The last house we visited was the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Hanna House, built in 1936.

This property is private and may only be visited during guided tours, but it’s worth the planning to enjoy the setting and the unique architecture!  I hope you will enjoy the photo show I put together.  There are additional pics too, after the 90 second slide show, in case you want to see more.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

What Types of Houses or Homes are Found in Los Gatos?

Los Gatos is a charming town at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains that features a good amount architectural beauty in commercial and residential buildings (and natural beauty too, as the town’s backdrop is the coastal foothills).

Today we’ll have a look at some of the diverse types of architecture seen in Los Gatos homes. There are many neighborhoods built out by many different builders within the town (and in county pockets). Each one has its own personality and “feel”. Many of the town’s residential areas have ranch style homes that are 30 – 50 years old, but certainly not all of Los Gatos can be described that way. What types of houses does Los Gatos have? It really depends on the neighborhood and age of the area or development – and, to an extent, on the owners and how they care for the home. Here, then, is a “sampling” of architectural styles found in the homes of Los Gatos.

The Almond Grove District is one of the oldest parts of Los Gatos and it features many lovely Victorian homes, some craftsman and a smattering of everything else. It’s a fabulous place to see at any time of the year, but especially in October or December, when the area seems to go all out in decorating for the holidays. This neighborhood is located near Los Gatos – Saratoga Road and N. Santa Cruz Avenue, and includes streets such as Almendra, Massol, Tait, and Bean. (And yes, it was once a grove of almond trees.)

Almond Grove House

And here’s a lovely Craftsman style home just touching the Almond Grove area:

 

Los Gatos Home

(more…)