Featuring original and reproduction homes, businesses and landmarks highlighting Santa Clara Valley’s past, there is plenty to explore at History Park. It is open to the public seven days a week.
History Park, on 14 acres in Kelley Park, had its beginnings in 1972, and has grown to include 32 structures operated with 19 community partner organizations.
The land for History Park was originally purchased from Louise Kelley for the city of San Jose through Ernie and Emily Renzel and Alden Campen. Campen and the Renzels purchased 63 acres from Kelley for $142,000 for the purpose of a future City park. Later, using bond funds, the City purchased the remaining land that is today’s Kelley Park.
Louise Kelley continued to live on her Kelley Park estate until her death in the mid-1950s. Kelley wanted the park to be named Archer Park after her father, but it instead became Kelley Park.
The Trolley Barn and trolleys are a joint project of the California Trolley and Railroad Corporation and History San José. Between 1880 and 1940, electric streetcars operated on close to 130 miles of track in the Santa Clara Valley. When automobiles were still too expensive to be widely owned, many San Jose residents used the trolleys to travel around town. In 1982, the Valley Transportation Authority created the San Jose Trolley Historical Restoration Project to restore six vintage streetcars. The Trolley Barn was built in 1984 as a place to house these streetcar, and restore other historic vehicles. Park visitors can ride on the restored trolleys on weekends on tracks around Kelley Park. They are also used for public transportation in downtown San Jose.
The Trolley Barn is a reconstruction, built in the style of similar trolley-buildings from the early 1900s. It is used to display historic streetcars and other vehicles.
Streetcars were operating in downtown San Jose as late as 1938.
Associated Oil Service Station
This gas station was originally built in 1927 at the corner of Market and Julian Streets in San Jose. It was part of a chain of Associated Oil Company stations owned by J.R. Chace. In 1930, Max Rosenthal bought the station and put up a garage nearby, although he continued to sell Associated Oil Company products. Rosenthal sold the station to Guy C. Brouse in 1945, who owned it until 1971.The Associated Oil Company station closed due to rising gas prices casued by the oil crisis of the early 1970s. It remained vacant for several years, and was scheduled to be demolished. In 1978, the San José Historical Museum rescued the gas station and moved it to History Park.
The Print Shop, originally a residence, was built in 1884 in downtown San Jose, at 91 North San Pedro Street near the corner of St. John Street. Beginning in 1926 the MenMuir family lived in the house for almost forty years. This area served as San Jose's Italian American neighborhood and commercial district for a hundred years. The house was moved to History Park in 1972 and transformed a recreated print ‘job shop,’ common in San José from 1890 until 1915. These businesses did small projects such as brochures, flyers, business cards, and stationary. The F. M. Weiler Liberty (patent 1874) and an 1886 Pearl are two examples of job printing equipment used in the shop. On selected weekends and at special events, Printers’ Guild members demonstrate various presses to create newsletters, invitations, bookmarks, and more. At special events, audience members can participate in making their own hand-printed souvenir.
The Print Shop is an example of a typical building found in San Jose in the nineteenth century because of its “false front” appearance and distinctive corner decorations.
The Pacific Hotel was originally located at 74-80 South Market Street in downtown San Jose, near the Plaza de César Chavez. The first hotel at this location was founded in 1860, but the Pacific Hotel itself was not opened until 1880. Charles Schiele, a Prussian immigrant and former waiter, purchased the property, then known as Otter’s Hotel, and was the first owner of the Pacific Hotel. Schiele remained in charge for seven years, until he sold the hotel to Julius Neifing and Jacob Schlenker and was elected to the San Jose City Council. Schlenker owned the hotel with different business partners until 1903, when he sold it to George Pfeffer. The Pacific Hotel remained in business until July 1907, when the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company bought the building. While the hotel was in operation, it had fifty-five rooms, a bar, billiards, a reading room, and a livery stable. German food was a specialty in the hotel’s Deutches Gasthaus (German Guesthouse). In the late nineteenth century, room and board at the Pacific Hotel cost between nine and fifteen dollars. Breakfast and dinner were available for fifty cents each, and lunch cost seventy-five cents. This replica of the Pacific Hotel, constructed to serve as the Historical Museum’s headquarters, was dedicated in 1977.
O'Brien's Candy Store is inside the Pacific Hotel lobby.
The Nelson-DeLuz House was built about 1905 on the corner of South Eleventh and William Streets. A neo-classic bungalow with ship lap siding, it is in a style made popular by the local architectural firm of Wolfe and McKenzie. The classic features include the porch pillars and capitals, dentils at roof and windows, and decorative corbels and plaster ornaments at some of the windows and pediments. The gabled roof is a feature of the Bungalow style. Kristena Nelson DeLuz’s family owned this house from about 1919. Kristena, who was raised in the house, married and lived out her life in the family home. Upon her death in 1986, she willed the house to the San José Historical Museum. The house was moved to History Park in 1987.
John and Etta Nelson bought the house in 1919. Their daughter Kristena lived in it after their deaths, and bequeathed it to the San Jose Historical Museum Association.
A neo-classic row house of similar vintage as the neighboring Nelson-DeLuz House, this structure was built and occupied by the Mateo Pasettas and their nine children. Born in Yugoslavia in 1865, Pasetta arrived in the United States in 1882. He settled in San Jose in 1896, and became involved in the fruit drying industry, establishing several packing plants and orchards. The house was donated to the Museum by his grandson, Robert J. Bettencourt.Today the house serves as the Leonard and David McKay Gallery, with rotating exhibits open to the public every weekend.
Dr. Warburton's Office
Dr. Henry Hulme Warburton was one of the first physicians in the Santa Clara Valley. Born in Staffordshire, England, in 1819, he emigrated to the United States in 1844. Warburton was a surgeon aboard a whaling ship when it docked in San Francisco in 1847. Like many others he tried his hand at gold mining, but settled in Santa Clara, establishing his medical practice in 1848. Warburton constructed this office in the 1870s. After his death in 1903, many other physicians, and one dentist, Dr. Thomas Gallup, occupied the building. The building was used as law offices from 1954 to 1964 until urban renewal in downtown Santa Clara threatened to destroy it. In 1966, Dr. Warburton’s office was the first building to be relocated to History Park.
Built in the 1870s, this doctor's office was originally located at the corner of Main and Benton Streets, Santa Clara. It was the first building donated to the Museum, in 1972.
The Paulson House is currently home to the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County.
This painting, hung in the Paulson House, was a study for the larger painting donated to the California Statehouse on behalf of the California Pioneers.
Portuguese Historical Museum at the Imperio
The museum is a joint project of History San José and the Portuguese Heritage Society of California and features stories of Portuguese culture in Santa Clara Valley. The Imperio consists of approximately 3200 square feet of exhibit space on the ground floor and basement. The reconstructed Imperio altar is the focus of the ground floor exhibit, a backdrop for the explanation of the significance of the Holy Ghost celebrations. An etched glass map depicting the Portuguese world graces the building entrance; through its view, visitors are introduced to Portuguese history and culture. Handcrafted natural wood cases house current exhibits. The Imperio is a replica of the first permanent imperio built in San Jose, circa 1915, on the present site of the I.E.S. Hall on East Santa Clara Street and U.S. 101. The Imperio, like many of its counterparts in the Azores, was built to honor the Holy Spirit. It also served as the center of much social and religious activity. To San Jose immigrants at the turn of the century, the Imperio represented the continuation of celebrated traditions, easing the transition from the old world to the new by maintaining strong bonds to their heritage. The Imperio replica was dedicated on June 7, 1997, as part of the first annual Portuguese Festival. The centerpiece of the Imperio’s plaza, dedicated on November 3, 2001, is a 19-foot granite replica of the 130-foot diameter Compass Rose, A Rosa os Ventos, located at the Plaza of the Coveries in Lisbon.
Dashaway Stables was one of three branches in San Jose owned by the Lick Livery and Hack Company. Built in 1888 at 130 South 2nd Street by Frederick Tennant and William Connell, Dashaway Stables held horses and carriages, commonly called “hacks.” San Joseans could rent carriages, similar to renting a car, or pay to have someone drive them on an excursion, similar to a taxi or limousine service. In addition, a livery such as Dashaway Stables was a place where people paid to have their horses fed and stabled.By 1915, when Dashaway Stables moved to 131 South 3rd Street, it had been replaced by the Lick Garage. It continued under different owners for a number of years before being destroyed in 1928 for unknown reasons. A parking lot was later built on the site, which remained in use into the mid-1900s. This replica of the stables was dedicated in 1975.
Chinese American Historical Museum at the Ng Shing Gung
A joint project by History San José and the Chinese Historical & Cultural Project to share the stories of Chinese Americans in Santa Clara Valley, the museum building is a reconstruction of the original Ng Shing Gung (Temple of the Five Gods) that served as a community center for the Chinese American community. Inside, the first floor of the museum explores the experiences of Chinese Americans in Santa Clara Valley from the mid-19th century through today. The second floor features the altar from the original Ng Shing Gung.
Ng Shing Gung temple with guardian effigies during Da Jui, "Feast of the Hungry Ghosts." The huge figures made of paper mache were burned at the last evening of the festival to satisfy the spirits.
Most people who come to downtown San José have no idea that there was a Chinatown here. In fact, in the 1880s, it was one of the largest Chinatowns in California with over 1,000 residents.
Andrew P. Hill was a renowned local photographer and savior of the Big Basin redwoods. The Hill House, originally located at 1350 Sherman Street, and moved to History Park on Sunday, February 9, 1997, was his home from 1898 until his death in 1922. Hill was also an artist, and two of his paintings from the Historical Museum Collection are on display at the San José City Council Chamber.
Edwin Markham House
Built in the 1860s, the Markham House was originally located at 432 South Eighth Street, on the San José State University grounds. This Greek Revival home was the residence of the poet Edwin Markham, author of “Man with a Hoe.” Markham’s mother purchased the home in the 1870s to be near her son while he studied at San José State Normal School. Markham made the house his principal residence until 1889. The structure was purchased by the Edwin Markham Landmark Association, and in the 1920s was used by the University as the health cottage (infirmary). Before it was moved to History Park in 1987, it served for twenty years as the home of the San José Center for Poetry and Literature. In March 2002, Poetry Center San José returned to the Markham House. The house is now used as a writing resource center, offering workshops, open readings, children’s writing activities, and a library. The first floor houses an exhibit of Edwin Markham memorabilia, and the second floor is used by the organization for administrative space.
In 1851, David Umbarger, a “forty-niner” from West Virginia, bought 136.5 acres in San Jose, and built this house on his homestead in the 1870s. Like many ex-miners who remained in California, Umbarger started farming in order to make a living, and dedicated his land to wheat and grain production. After Umbarger died in 1891, his land was divided and sold. The house remained on a six-and-a-half acre lot which transferred ownership several times. In August 1946, thirty-two acres of the remaining land were sold to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. The Umbarger House was moved to History Park in 1970. Make sure you visit the “kitchen garden” behind the house. This type of garden was a common feature found in the Santa Clara Valley and the Umbargers would have used it for growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
The Umbarger House was built in the Italianate style, with "gingerbread" or carpenter's gothic features. The furnishings are true to the Victorian period but are not original to the house.
This kitchen would have served multiple functions during the later years of the Victorian era, including that of a family room. Note the hip style bathtub.
Pioneer rancher David Greenawalt, who came to California with the gold rush seekers in 1850, built this Italianate style farmhouse in 1877, a decade after buying the land on the road to New Almaden. Greenawalt died in 1881, less than a year after his wife. It was moved to History Park in 1991 from its original location at 14611 Almaden Expressway. The foundation replicates the original sandstone, which was from the same Greystone Quarry as San Jose's downtown Post Office. The Greenawalt House is home to the Museum of the Boat People & the Republic of Vietnam.
Santa Ana One Room Schoolhouse
The Santa Ana School was originally located off of Santa Ana Valley Road, Hollister, in San Benito County. The 127-year old, one-room schoolhouse provides a classroom setting for the over 25,000 school children who visit History Park each year. It honors teachers, and is a symbol of educational traditions in the 1890′s. The project was sponsored by the Connie L. Lurie College of Education Alumni Association of San José State University as a joint project with History San José. Santa Ana is typical of one-room schoolhouse construction. It has two entrance doors, cloak rooms, and exit doors; one of each for girls and boys. Restroom facilities, called privies, were located in the back of the schoolhouse yard. Again, one for the girls and one for the boys. In the 1890′s water was carried from a neighboring ranch in a pail, poured into either community or individual drinking cups. During the 1800′s, children in rural areas of the nation would attend schools much like the Santa Ana School. The schools were located within walking distance of students’ homes, considered to be five miles in San Benito County. At one time, large rural areas such as San Benito County had over 63 one-room schoolhouses, often built by a township. A township consisted of 36 sections of land, each section consisting of 640 acres. One section would be set aside to be sold at public auction to establish a school. Grades one through eight were taught at the Santa Ana School. Some students had to work on the farm and took longer to complete school than others. Consequently, the age of the children in one classroom could range from six to eighteen. The daily lessons produced a constant buzz of voices as the students read aloud, practiced, recited, listened, wrote, and read as many as thirteen different lessons that were conducted at one time. The teacher called students forward by grade level to the recitation bench in the front of the room to give them instructions, conduct practice sessions, or listen to students as they recited their lessons. A total of 54 teachers taught at Santa Ana School between 1872-1974, except for 1904-08, 1926-34, and 1946-47. Kindergarten teacher Elizabeth Gates-Rianda was the last to teach there from 1972-74.The Tavares Family of Hollister donated the Santa Ana One Room School House to the Connie L. Lurie College of Education Association. The school house later opened at History Park on September 26, 1998.
Zanker House, Historic Landmark 10-194
Originally located on Zanker Road in Alviso, this Italianate farmhouse was built in 1868 and was the home of F. William Zanker, his wife and their eight children. A native of Germany, Zanker grew strawberries, asparagus and pears on the ranch. The house was moved to History Park in 1987 and restoration was completed in 1988. The restoration revealed that the house lacked a flue, indicating an absence of heating and cooking stoves. A two-room addition at the rear of the house, along with a 20th century bathroom on the first floor, were removed during the restoration. The redwood outhouse was on the original property in 1906. The Zanker House is home to the African American Heritage House.
The Chiechi House was originally built on lots #1 and #3, Block 6 of the Sainsevain Villa, property owned by Pierre and Paula Sainsevain, now part of Willow Glen. In 1876, the Sainsevains sold these lots to John and Jane Campbell, who built the original house. The home and property were both sold and mortgaged several times before they were purchased in 1911 by Michael Chiechi, whose family lived at the 820 Northrup Avenue location for sixty years. Members of the Chiechi family were prominent orchardists in the Santa Clara Valley. The home was donated to History San José in 1973. It is currently the home of the La Raza Historical Society.
Coyote Post Office
This building was located on Monterey Road, between San Jose and Morgan Hill. It served as the Coyote Post Office from 1907 to 1974, when it was moved to History Park. The post office began as the Burnett Post Office in 1862, named after the surrounding township. It was part of the Twelve Mile House, one of many lodges along Monterey Road when it served as a cattle trail and stage route. In the 1860s, the post office served as a way station for the Overland Mail (later Wells Fargo Express). John Barry, the inn-keeper, is listed in government records as the first Postmaster. On March 13, 1882, the name “Coyote” officially replaced “Burnett.” A dispute erupted between Postmaster Frank S. Dassel and U.S. Postal Inspectors over a $1.00 financial discrepancy. Since only a wall separated the Post Office from the Twelve Mile House, the inspectors enacted an archaic postal regulation prohibiting a postal office in or near proximity to a saloon. The Post Office moved next door to this building, built by Fiacro Fisher, the building’s first Postmaster. In this once rural area, the Coyote Post Office was more than a mail depot; it also served as a community meeting place. By 1973, the Coyote Post Office had outgrown this building and moved again to a new building, still in operation, on Monterey Road. The Coyote Post Office was refurbished in 2010/2011 through a generous grant by the Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Commission.
This Italianate farmhouse, originally located at McKee and Toyon Streets in northeast San José, is named for the family that purchased it in 1887. Built circa 1879, the house has been extensively renovated several times, including the construction of the veranda encompassing nearly three sides of the house. The house was moved to History Park in 1986. Restoration and adaptive re-use has been done by The Rotary Club of San José, which holds a long-term lease with the City of San José and uses the house as its administrative offices. The Gordon House is open to the public about four times per year.
The Gordon House currently serves as the offices of the Rotary Club of San Jose.
Founded in 1914, the Rotary Club of San Jose is the community's most active and well known service organization.
The Firehouse's facade is a reconstruction of the Empire Firehouse located at 375 Second Street from 1869-1892.The San Jose Fire Department, initially an intensely dedicated volunteer organization until the hiring of professionals in 1876, was established by a City ordinance in 1854. In that same year, a firehouse was erected on Lightson Street. It functioned as the only firehouse in the community until the increased requirement for equipment storage space called for the construction of another building in 1869. Known as the Empire Firehouse, the new headquarters at 375 Second Street housed Empire #1 Engine Company and San Jose’s first steam fire engine. For 23 years, the Empire Firehouse served the City of San José until, in July 1892, it was destroyed in a fire that consumed several blocks of the downtown area.
A parade passes by the original Empire Firehouse, seen on the right side of the photograph.
Stevens Ranch Fruit Barn
Around 1890, Orvis Stevens, one of the first orchardists in Coyote Valley, built this fruit barn to store and dry fruit. Born in Vermont, Stevens came to California in 1852 to try his hand at mining before settling in the Santa Clara Valley. In 1868, he purchased 108 acres of Rancho Laguna Seca and began working the land. His sons took over the Ranch in 1906.In the 1970s, as part of the 101 Freeway development, CalTrans provided funding for the fruit barn and other historic buildings to be preserved, moving the barn to History Park in 1979. The fruit barn is home to the exhibit Passing Farms: Enduring Values which examines Santa Clara Valley’s agricultural past. The exhibit’s curator, Yvonne Olson Jacobson, grew up on her family’s Sunnyvale farm with orchards of prunes and cherries. She witnessed the transformation of the Valley of Heart’s Delight to the Silicon Valley, and realized the importance of documenting the disappearing family farms and way of life. The exhibit explores the Valley’s fruit industry from the late nineteenth century to World War II. During its heyday, Santa Clara County produced more than one third of all the fruit canned in the world.
The Santa Clara Valley was once the "prune capital" of the world.
Migrant Worker Houses, Historic Landmark 10-192
These houses are among Santa Clara County’s few surviving examples of a once common form of housing for agricultural laborers. The buildings, probably built between 1905 and 1920, were acquired from the Pratt-Low Preserving Company in Santa Clara in 1952 by orchardist Eiichi Sakauye, and relocated to his ranch on North First Street. Mr. Sakauye had purchased the North First Street property in 1952 from Emily J. Horn, whose family had owned the land since 1905. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Mr. Sakauye’s labor crews were primarily made up of Mexican braceros. The Sakauye orchard was one of the few orchards owned by a person of Japanese descent. The Sakauyes made important contributions to the development and production of pears as an agricultural product, grafting and propagating over twenty varieties. The family worked the orchard into the 1980’s. When the government banned the use of cyclamates as sweeteners, the family was forced to abandon the pear orchard. After the property was purchased by The Sobrato Organization, the firm donated the houses to History Park as visual testimony to the diverse work force that labored in our canneries, ranches, and orchards.
Electric Light Tower
San Jose’s Electric Light Tower was the inspiration of J. J. Owen, editor of the San Jose Mercury. On May 13, 1881, Owen printed an editorial suggesting that by providing one high and immense source of arc light, the night would become as day for the downtown area. With the enthusiastic financial support of local citizens, construction began that August, and on December 13, 1881, the gigantic, 237-foot tower was lighted. Straddling the intersection of Santa Clara and Market Streets, the tower proved to be more spectacular than practical, since its 24,000 candlepower failed to sufficiently light the area. Although the tower did not fulfill its original purpose, it represented progress to the people of San Jose because electricity was a relatively new source of power. It became one of San Jose’s “national known” landmarks. Already damaged by a windstorm in February 1915, the tower completely collapsed into the street at 11:55 a.m. on December 3rd of that year. The tower telescoped into itself and no one was hurt. The Electric Light Tower standing on the History Park grounds is a replica of the original structure. Rising 115 feet, this tower has been scaled to fit the Park streets.
Bank of Italy
In 1904 San Jose native Amadeo Peter Giannini started the Bank of Italy in San Francisco. A. P. Giannini’s bank became Bank of America in 1930 and his practices revolutionized the banking industry with a commitment to previously under-served members of the community such as the working class, immigrant populations, and small businesses. The bank also encouraged children to start saving, financed California’s booming agricultural economy at a time when it was difficult for farmers to get loans, and started a Women’s Banking Department in 1921.The bank helped finance the Hollywood film industry with loans for projects such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Gone With the Wind, and director Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Capra based the main character in his 1932 film American Madness on A. P. Giannini. In another major undertaking Bank of America financed the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1932 during the heart of the Depression.In addition, Giannini created the first successful branch banking system in the United States. Bank of Italy’s first branch outside of San Francisco was in San Jose. The bank bought San Jose’s Commercial and Savings Bank in 1909 and converted it to Bank of Italy. This building is a replica of that first Bank of Italy branch, reconstructed in 1977.
Amadeo P. Giannini founded the Bank of Italy in 1904, opening the first office in San Francisco in 1908.
Bank of Italy’s first branch outside of San Francisco was in San José. The bank bought San José’s Commercial and Savings Bank in 1909 and converted it to Bank of Italy.
A. P. Giannini's banking practices reflected his commitment to previously under-served members of the community such as the working class, immigrant populations, and small businesses.
Bank of Italy later became Bank of America, and was based in this iconic San Jose skyscraper.
Exhibit created by Catherine Mills, Curator of Library and Archives, History San José, in conjunction with HSJ partners and affiliates.