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Professorville

 

Professorville, which survived the 1906 earthquake as well as a threat to develop a huge hospital in the 1970s, is registered as a national Historic District, and has retained a distinctly residential feel despite its proximity to downtown.

"Over the years, this area's become really gentrified," according to longtime resident Sandy Peters.

Bounded by Kingsley and Addison avenues from Cowper to Ramona streets, the neighborhood features a variety of traditional styles of architecture, including Craftsman, Shingle and Colonial Revival.

Residents share a common commitment to maintaining the overall look of the neighborhood as well as the upkeep of individual historic homes, Peters said. The Palo Alto Historical Review Board (HRB) encourages this perspective, and treats Professorville's history as a point of pride.

The neighborhood's front doors are littered with small bronze ovals, presented by Palo Alto Stanford (PAST) Heritage to homes that reach their centennial anniversary.

The historic status of the area and certain individual houses can be the source of extra frustration for residents looking to renovate the exteriors of their homes or build additions, Peters said.

"I guess there are more hurdles you have to deal with," she said. These potentially include petitioning the Palo Alto Historic Review Board to approve construction plans.

But many residents have fought to maintain this high standard for neighborhood projects, fearing the encroachment of downtown office spaces and the parking dilemmas they have already caused.

Because many houses in Professorville were not originally built with garages, their owners have largely resorted to street-side parking.

At the same time, the absence of a time limit on these streets has attracted many who work downtown, causing Ramona and Bryant to be choked with cars parked bumper-to-bumper.

"It's getting to be a joke," Peters said. "If you pull away in the morning to do errands, you can just forget about parking when you get back."

Living so close to University still has its benefits, Peters said.

"I can walk to everything, and I'm a walker, so I love it. I think it's a wonderful advantage to live here," she said.

Sandra Tucher, who has lived there since 2005, agrees.

"It's very central, and everything seems very close and accessible," she said. "It seems like everything's just a bike ride away."

She also said that the proximity of downtown gives it a comfortable, urban feel.

"There's often just people circulating in the neighborhood," Tucher said. "It's nice to feel like it's frequented by lots of different people."

Peters said the residents' tendency to take frequent strolls contributes to Professorville's neighborly atmosphere.

"There's a lot of sitting on porches and talking to neighbors," Peters said.

Community events tend to be exclusive to a particular area or group of friends, she said.

"There's a little dinner here, a little dinner there," Peters said.

Kelli Tomlinson, a friend of Tucher's, recounted, "One of our neighbors organized a little progressive dinner that moved down the street from one house to the next. And then there was a little tea party at Christmas."

"We have quite a span in the age range, but I have no qualms about going to a neighbor and asking for a cube of butter," Tucher said.

FACTS

CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (NEARBY): Addison Kids' Club, 650 Addison Ave.; Downtown Child Care Center — CCLC, 848 Ramona St.; The Learning Center, 459 Kingsley Ave.

FIRE STATION: No. 1, 301 Alma St., and No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road

LIBRARY: Downtown branch, 270 Forest Ave.

PARKS: Scott Street Mini Park, Scott Street and Channing Avenue; Heritage Park, Homer Avenue and Waverley Street

POST OFFICE: Hamilton, 380 Hamilton Ave.

PRIVATE SCHOOL (NEARBY): Castilleja School, 1310 Bryant St.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Addison Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School

SHOPPING: University Avenue; Town & Country Shopping Center

MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: $1,550,000

HOMES SOLD: 1

MEDIAN 2008 CONDO PRICE: $945,000

CONDOS SOLD: 1

View the neighborhood map (PDF)

— Thea Lamkin

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