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.
Not too far from the Adobe Woman’s Club is Santa Clara’s oldest structure, the Berryessa Adobe, located at 373 Jefferson Street, Santa Clara. It is open Thursdays and Saturdays from 12noon to 4pm. It features early California artifacts. The Examiner has a great article, full of history on this site: read up!
The Peralta Adobe House in downtown San Jose close to San Pedro Square (at 75 West Saint John Street) can be toured if you pull a group together. (It is also very close to the Fallon House, and the two can both be seen on the same ticket.) According to the History San Jose website, this is the oldest house in San Jose, built in 1797 and “the last remaining structure from El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe.”
A few years ago, I did a “client appreciation” event with a tour of the Peralta Adobe and Fallon House. At the time, anyone could tour these at any time by just showing up and buying a ticket. The website now says that they need groups of ten or more to tour, so it sounds like another casualty of the Great Recession. Those who did join me for my event seemed to really like it and I thought it was a good event so would recommend it to others.
Roberto-Suñol Adobe (aka Laura House): Less obvious is the Willow Glen adobe building hidden behind a wooden facade at 770 Lincoln Avenue in San Jose. Dating from 1870, this adobe house is now home to law offices. Most of the adobe cannot be seen, but the owners have kindly made visibile a portion of the original adobe construction. Originally, of course, it was a one story house, built in 1836 (have you ever heard of a two story adobe? No!). According to stoppingpoints.com, “The one-story dwelling was enlarged in 1847 by the new owner, Antonio Suñol, the second story and balcony were added in 1853 by Captain Stefano Splivalo.”
In Milpitas, you can find the The Jose Maria Alviso Adobe, which also began as a one story adobe house and was later added onto with a second floor. As it was expanded, it grew into the one uniquely California style of architecture, the Monterey style. Also in Milpitas is the Jose Higuera Adobe and Park.
In my own town of Los Gatos, there’s a hair salon/barber shop called the Old Adobe Hair Shop of Los Gatos too – but I cannot find any historical info on it (just business info). In Mountain View, there’s another on Moffett Blvd (that can also be rented out).
If you slow down, you’ll find hints of our collective history all around us – in San Jose, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Mountain View, Los Gatos and all over the “south bay”. These are easy to miss…and wonderful to find and discover!