A home with many Spanish style elements on Ayer Ave in the Vendome district of San Jose near Japantown.
Curved terra cotta tile roofs and pale stucco walls, these are the tell-tale signs you’re looking at a Spanish style house! But what is a Spanish style home?
What makes a house a Spanish style home?
There are actually a number of more specific designs that might fall under this umbrella term. Some of these include Mission or California Mission Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Moorish Revival, Territorial or Territorial Revival, Pueblo Deco, Monterey Colonial, Colonial Californiano, and Mexican Style, but most frequently the term “Spanish Style” is used to describe the Spanish Eclectic or Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. We’ll focus on these last two as they are the most widely found designs and most of the Spanish style homes in the South Bay fall into at least one of these two categories.
Before we jump in any further, there’s a lot we can learn from these names. Revival styles draw on the look of a past era, which in this case is the Spanish colonial-era architecture of the far and south west found in historic adobes and the missions. This architecture is a reimagining, not a reproduction, of something vintage through a contemporary form. These are “eclectic” styles because the architecture does not follow any strict rules of design. Instead, it combines features of various styles, replacing or mixing elements for taste and functionality to become a kind of hybrid design.
What does this mean for the average homebuyer / homeowner?
Willow Glen is a very charming, older part of San Jose that seems to beckon to a more gracious time. It is perhaps best known for its historic homes and quaint streets, but it is also highly regarded as a tight knit community with its own, vibrant downtown.
Where is Willow Glen?
Willow Glen is close to downtown San Jose, bordered by Highway 87 to the east, Highway 280 to the north, Southwest Expy, Leigh Avenue, and Bascom Avenue to the west, and Foxworthy Avenue to the south. To the west is Campbell and to the south is Cambrian.
This area is mostly the 95125 zip code, but includes a little of 95124 on the south end.
The public schools are mostly within the San Jose Unified School District, but on the south west side, I believe all within 95124, some are in the Cambrian School District.
The district’s centerpiece is Lincoln Avenue, a street bustling with cars and pedestrians alike. It’s filled to the brim with restaurants and shops and seems to attract a never-ending strea of visitors, especially in summer and during the holidays. Additionally, there are a number of businesses and shops along Meridian Avenue.
The boundaries are not always agreed upon. Google Maps shows a much broader area, extending west all the way to Highway 17 and all the way south to Hillsdale, including parts of Campbell and Cambrian. The Wikipedia page on WG only includes the 95125 zip code.
A little Willow Glen history
Willow Glen began as an unincorporated community at about the time of the Gold Rush, at about the same time as when San Jose was the capitol of California. In 1863 the first school was built to meet the needs of the children there. It became incorporated in 1927 to fend off being annexed into the larger City of San Jose, but had a change of heart and voted to be annexed in 1936 so that the area could be on the city’s sewer system rather than to continue with septic tanks and cesspools.
Willow Glen architecture
Much of Willow Glen was built early in the 1900s and so the homes in the “downtown” area are older and feature classical styles of housing on tree lined streets – Spanish, Craftsman, and some even more venerable and Victorian. That is surely a large part of its charm. On the edges of Willow Glen, the homes are newer and tract. One area, known as Palm Haven, has a myriad of palm trees (both Royal Palm and Fan Palm) and older, diverse architecture surrounding a community park. The original access to Palm Haven from Bird Avenue and the rest of Willow Glen has been blocked off, but the grand old road can still be found easily enough via Clintonia off Riverside. (more…)
If you love older residential areas with classic architecture and a canopy of street trees, you’ll want to know about the Buena Vista neighborhood in San Jose.
Situated between downtown San Jose and the Valley Fair & Santana Row areas, there’s a lot going on that’s not far away.
Buena Vista neighborhood location
Where is the Buena Vista neighborhood? Roughly, it includes areas north of Hwy 280, south of San Carlos, east of Leigh and west of Meridian. It is considered part of Central San Jose by the local MLS.
The eastern half of the area is in the 95126 zip code, and the western section is in the 95128 zip code.
Nearby neighborhoods include Burbank, Shasta – Hanchett Park, Sunol – Midtown, and Rose Garden on the north side of 280. South of 280 lies Willow Glen and the Sherman Oaks neighborhood.
What are homes like in the Buena Vista neighborhood?
“Red flags” are clues that something is wrong or potentially wrong. They’re the hints that we need to investigate something further, the sign that we should be on alert.
Some parts of San Jose, and Silicon Valley generally, enjoy beautiful older homes with classic styling and beautiful finishing work. These properties and neighborhoods are prized because they are not cookie cutter, not ranch, not too new. They may be Victorian, Craftsman, Spanish, or any number of other interesting architectural styles.
One area of Santa Clara County that is well known for both charming historic homes and unfortunately also some structural issues among those older houses is the Willow Glen district of San Jose.
Back in 2015 I showed some clients about a half dozen homes, all in Willow Glen, and we saw a lot of “red flags” which hinted of foundation problems, among others. I thought I’d share a few pics I snapped at one of them with my old treo camera here. All of these were taken on the front porch of this house – all visible structural “red flags” before we ever set foot into the house.
Most homes in Silicon Valley come with some type of parking space for cars beyond street parking. Home buyers want to know that there will be a place for their vehicles (and often their “stuff” too). Garages and parking are sometimes under-appreciated aspects of evaluating real estate, and sometimes there are parking surprises after the close of escrow, so it will be the focus of today’s topic.
Parking and resale value
Because a real estate purchase is a big ticket item, it is always important to consider the ability to sell it later. (Always buy with selling in mind!) Will the property you have or are considering buying be hard to sell in the future if it is not a red-hot sellers market? Parking can greatly impact “resale value“ and overall desirability to a large portion of consumers, who may look at that space as protection for a beloved vehicle, a safety feature, a future hobby room, or many other possibilities.
If you are evaluating a Common Interest Development (CID) condominium, townhouse, or planned unit development home with private roads and parking, there will be some special concerns that may be a little different than if you were purchasing a single family home. We’ll consider both.
General principle: In all types of housing in the San Jose area, usually the most highly desired type of parking arrangement is an attached garage with direct access into the home and with side by side parking provided (not tandem). This is not true in all cases but is generally true. You would not find home buyers interested in historic homes (Victorian, Spanish, Craftsman) wanting a prominent two car garage at the front of the house, commanding the lion’s share of the view from the street. (So don’t expect to see that in Japantown, Naglee Park, or the the Rose Garden areas of San Jose.) But for the typical buyer of the more common ranch style house, the attached garage is expected and appreciated, and if it’s missing it may be a challenge to sell the property later because the property will be appealing to a smaller pool of buyers.
Regarding direct access: garages are not allowed to have a door entering into a bedroom. This is for safety reasons since bedrooms are where residents are most vulnerable, and garages are an area of increased safety risk.
The historic Naglee Park Home Tour in San Jose will take place on Saturday April 21, 2018 from 10am to 4pm. Sponsored by the San Jose Woman’s Club, this is the seventh year of the annual tour. This year, proceeds go towards the renovation of the Women’s Club 1929 Spanish Revival Clubhouse.
Tours include access to seven homes along two adjacent blocks in Naglee Park, and shows off both their lovely living quarters and gardens. Visitors have the option of pre-ordering a lunch box, and wine and refreshments will be available at the Refreshment Garden. The tour also features a lecture and open-air market.
The SJWC does not have any information on their website as of yet, however the Eventbrite page, where you can purchase tickets, has details, as does the Facebook Event Page.
For tickets and information: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sjwc-naglee-park-vintage-home-tour-tickets-42695715033
Historic Naglee Park Home Tour in San Jose was on the same date, April 21, back in 2012 for the 3rd annual tour.
The Naglee Park neighborhood in downtown San Jose is one of the most charming and historic areas in Silicon Valley. Known for older, beautifully maintained and updated homes, it boasts an annual historic homes tour.
Located just east of San Jose State University, it is extremely convenient for those involved with the college or who work downtown. Scenic Coyote Creek is its eastern boundary, Highway 280 the southern one, and E Santa Clara Street the northern edge of this community. This neighborhood is also close to the ever popular Happy Hollow Park and Zoo (which is in south San Jose, also along Coyote Creek).
What are homes in Naglee Park like?
Houses and homes in Naglee Park are primarily older, with the most historic being constructed in 1890. The average year built is 1935 as some of the properties were put up as recently as 2014 – though that is very unusual.
Naglee Park home – S 14th Street
Besides being older, often historic homes, what can we say about the Naglee Park homes? First, there are 859 single family homes there, plus 39 duplexes, plus other types of housing in the mix. So it is a good sized community.
Livable square footage in the single family homes ranges from a very modest 480 SF to an over sized 5007 SF of living space, with 1904 Sf being average. The average lot size is 6776 – pretty typical for most of San Jose, actually.
A variety of architectural styles can be found in Naglee Park, including Victorian, Craftsman, Mediterranean, and more. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of selling a house in Naglee Park which was a beautiful Italian-Mediterranean style with classic beauty.
What do homes cost in Naglee Park?
Right now, in early 2018, inventory is very low, and therefore our data is also low. In general, though expect to find homes selling for between $1 million and $2 million, but on the high end of that range in most cases. (It could be less if the home was small and in great disrepair, or more if the home were huge and newly renovated or rebuilt.) If you want to purchase a turnkey home in Naglee Park, it would be good to budget a minimum of $1,500,000 for a smaller home, and understand that it could go for close to $2 million.
Neighborhood data gathered February 20th, 2018
Are there any concerns with living in Naglee Park?
Like any downtown area in a big city, this is a place where you do lock your doors at night and can expect to sometimes deal with people wandering through who don’t live there and may be down on their luck. With the university nearby, parking may be an issue for some parts of Naglee Park. Coyote Creek does sometimes flood, but most of Naglee Park is not in a flood plain and was not too badly impacted by the floods in the winter of 2017. Ask most of the residents what they think, though, and they’ll tell you that the beauty and convenience of the neighborhood far outweigh any potential issues.
Read more – other downtown San Jose or central San Jose areas:
Each autumn, the St. Martin of Tours School puts on a fabulous tour of lovely homes in San Jose’s Rose Garden neighborhood. While anyone driving through this central San Jose area can appreciate the diverse and beautiful architecture, often the best features of these homes are found inside.
This year is the tour’s 22nd Anniversary! The homes tour is a large scale fundraising effort for the school. Tours are self-guided with hosts in each home ready to answer questions and share interesting historical facts and stories about the homes. On display will also be floral designs, artwork, and perhaps some treasures. The garden segment of the tour includes the Tea Garden, a spot to sit and enjoy complementary refreshments or a gourmet lunchbox (available to pre-order through October 6th with your tickets). The tour also features a boutique, where 100% of the proceeds will benefit St Martin of Tours School (credit cards accepted!) and a donation drawing.
Tour dates are Saturday, October 14th and Sunday, October 15th from 10am-4pm both days. No children under 12 are allowed on the tour. Come any time within the tour hours to begin, but note that it is recommended that visitors allot about 2 hours to view every home and the tour ends promptly at 4pm.
Tickets are available at the door, online, or through families in the school.
To read about the homes from last year’s tour, and to learn more about this year’s tour, and to purchase tickets, and more please visit the official Rose Garden Homes Tour website.
The University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara is walking distance to Santa Clara University. I grew up there, riding my bike in the forbidden college walkways, and recall my Realtor mother referring to the area as “Little Professorville.” That was a reference to a lovely Palo Alto neighborhood in the shadow of Stanford University. She wasn’t wrong – we knew some professors who walked to SCU each day from that neighborhood, including my grandfather.
Where is the University Square neighborhood?
The neighborhood may not have exact boundaries, but appears to be bordered by Park Avenue on the east, Washington Street on the west, the University to the north, and Newhall Avenue to the south.
The area closest to the campus is fairly congested, both with density of housing and the amount of cars parked everywhere. This is where you’ll see the reminder that it’s a quiet, residential zone.
Get past Poplar, though, and suddenly it’s a completely different feel, with almost no cars on the street and homes being spread further apart.
The homes found between Washington and Park, and along Alviso Street, are mixed architecturally. Some streets, like Circle Drive and College Avenue, are primarily ranch style houses built from 1955 – 1950 (some of the county records say 1900 – that just means they lost the records and don’t know!). Some of these have been expanded tremendously. The house I grew up in as a child was 1400 square feet, but it’s been added onto a couple or more times and is now more than 3000 SF.
Hilmar Street is older, mostly built in 1940 with a mix of styles, including Cape Cod, Tudor, and Bungalow. Most of the homes have detached garages, and on the south side of one block, the garages are accessed by an alley! We do not have many areas like that in Silicon Valley, but it makes the front of the home look almost like a movie set. That street is also lined with Cherry trees which explode with blossoms each spring, making a beautiful sight. Here’s a photo I took on February 14th, 2006 of that street.
And one more view, from the same day.
The homes here are mostly on 6000 to 9000 sf lots, and range from 1400 to 2500 SF in the majority of cases. There are 2 car garages. In the older houses, the garages will be detached, but in the ranch style houses, they are attached.
There are sidewalks throughout the University Square neighborhood. Often there’s a sidewalk strip, meaning a space for trees and other landscaping between the street and the sidewalk. Other times, the sidewalk is directly adjacent to the road.
This is not a pretentious neighborhood. The homes are mostly fairly modest, middle class homes. But they are convenient for both the university and for a trip to downtown San Jose via either The Alameda or Park Avenue. There’s a lot to be said for not needing a freeway with today’s congestion! As it is scenic, well maintained, and convenient, it’s also expensive, with home prices running about 20% more than the county average for a single family house.
Here’s another lovely home on Hilmar.
Want to check out the neighborhood some more? Browse the listings of University Square Santa Clara homes for sale here:
Homes for sale or recently sold in the University Square neighborhood in Santa Clara
To see what’s for sale, pending, or recently sold in the University Square neighborhood of Santa Clara, please visit this link:
The Saratoga Foothill Club, designed by Julia Morgan, is a Silicon Valley architectural landmark. It is located in a residential neighborhood near the Big Basin Rd and Sunnyvale-Saratoga Rd intersection, a block away from the downtown area. If you’ve never been, it’s worth a trip! Go for a couple of hours and enjoy lunch in downtown Saratoga Village, too.
Saratoga Foothill Club
20399 Park Place
Saratoga CA 95070
Availability: Tuesday through Sunday, 9:30 AM – 10:00 PM (per this writing)
http://www.foothillclub.org/ (disclaimer: events listed on this page are from 2014 and earlier)
National Register of Historic Places – Registration Form
History of the Club
I’ll post a very detailed history below. Generally, though, this club was part of a trend of women getting involved in their communities to both improve the places where they lived but also to improve their influence. This took place before women were permitted to vote and can be seen as part of the broader, growing civic influence of women.
The Building and Grounds
The architect: Julia Morgan
Today what may be more compelling than the movement behind the building is perhaps the building itself. Fittingly, it was designed by the most prominent female architect in California, Julia Morgan, an graduate of the University of California (Berkeley – it was the only UC at the time) and the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Art in Paris. She was a sorority sister with Grace Fisher Richards, one of the founding members and the then-current president of the Club. She was also the first licensed female architect in the state. (She is best known for her gorgeous work at Hearst Castle.) This certainly was not lost on the women who hired her! Nor on many other clients – “Of the 480 Morgan projects listed in Boutelle’s Julia Morgan Architect, 1995, from 1896 to 1946, more than one third were for women clients or for women’s organizations…. Even more impressive is the fact that Morgan also hired-women professionals. By 1927, six of her fourteen employees were women, a remarkable number for an established business.” (Per the register)***
The Saratoga Foothill Club was built out of redwood (outside and in, though the floors are hardwood) with a wood shake roof in the Craftsman or Arts and Crafts style in 1915. As with many of her designs, it is simple, understated, and made ample use of natural materials. Julia Morgan was inspired by the local Bay Area School of design. The bungalow feel fits in nicely with the neighborhood.
The structure itself is a one story building that’s 74′ wide across the front and 60′ deep, plus some pop-out areas around the sides. Inside there’s redwood paneling (redwood is a soft wood), hardwood floors in most of the area (carpeting in the entry). The kitchen has sheet vinyl and paster walls – more practical. In addition to the kitchen there’s a main room measuring 33’9” x 40’3 and a dining room with an open fireplace – the last two are joined by two sets of accordion doors. There’s a storage room and also a projection room. And of course there are restrooms. The building is set on a 7409 SF lot, nearly level, with a beautiful courtyard and pergola. (More info below image gallery.)
Historic landmark for the Saratoga Foothill Club.
Front doors to the Saratoga Foothill Club
This beautiful building and courtyard can be rented for events today.
Build largely out of redwood, the Saratoga Foothill Club is warm and inviting
Set near downtown Saratoga, this site fits in nicely with the residential neighborhood.
Historic Saratoga Foothill Club grounds, designed by Julia Morgan