Real Estate

Walking down Stanford's memory lane

Family-friendly tour features a dozen campus buildings

Eclectic -- Italian Renaissance or Spanish -- Greek Revival, Beaux Arts/Spanish Colonial, Modern: All of these architectural styles are represented in the upcoming "Hidden Gems of Upper Lomita" tour on April 26.

This year's Stanford University campus tour, sponsored by the Stanford Historical Society, includes 12 buildings, many that began as homes but evolved into academic offices or support services for students. All will be viewed from the outside, with docents stationed at each spot armed with masses of historical details.

The Kingscote Apartment house, for example, was built in 1917. Architect Julius Krafft (and his two sons) designed the Eclectic Italian Renaissance building as garden apartments for Sarah Howard, widow of political science professor Burt Estes Howard, according to Julie Cain, historic preservation planner. The apartments were open to the entire Stanford community: students, faculty and staff.

"Mrs. Howard wanted an English country manor," Cain said, so Krafft supplied an E-shaped footprint typical of that style, along with the parklike surroundings. The landscape includes several ancient oaks and a pool with a Japanese footbridge and Italian fountains.

But beyond the footprint, Krafft added Italian Renaissance aspects (in the arched windows, columns, eave brackets and low-pitched roof), or perhaps Arts and Crafts (those same overhanging eaves with brackets) and Art Moderne with the curved glass porch, Cain explained. There's even a Classical touch, with "dentil trim" dancing along the face of the building. The windows add a "Chicago" style to the building, she said, with casements on the side and transoms at the top. Sleeping porches are another unusual element.

Legend has it that Mrs. Howard brought back the two tiles embedded in the Italianesque fountain from Turkey in 1926. The garden even has an outdoor stage.

Just across the street is today's Bechtel International Center, which was also built in 1917. Designed by architect John Branner as a home for Zeta Psi, the first fraternity on campus, the building was simple and restrained, compared to the Bakewell and Brown structures (such as Roble Gym, Memorial Auditorium and Hoover Tower) that were nearby, Cain said. The basic aesthetic is Spanish Eclectic, she said, and features arched windows, a tile roof and stucco.

"It has a very European feel," she said, adding that Branner had toured Europe before designing the building, but "it's all about being eclectic."

The super-sized windows and doors on the first floor reflect the Beaux Art influence, and although the basic architecture is fairly simple, there are some odd touches, such as the inset Moorish arches.

Since 1963, the building has been used as an international center, first intended to help foreign students fit into American culture. Today, known as the Bechtel International Center, it's the go-to place for students to learn about where to study abroad.

Other buildings on the tour include:

* the Fire Truck House, designed by Charles Hodges in 1904 in the Greek Revival style;

* the Black Community Services Center, built for grounds foreman Fred Frehe in 1912 in an unknown Stick Style;

* Harmony House, designed as the Dugan residence in 1926, in an unknown Storybook style;

* Roble Hall, designed by George Kelham as a women's dorm in 1918, in the Beaux Arts style;

* Rogers House, an 1892 faculty residence, in an unknown Shingle style;

* Mariposa House, an 1892 boarding house, designed by Charles Hodges in the Shingle style;

* Serra House, built as the president's retirement house in 1923 by Birge Clark in the Spanish Eclectic style;

* Florence Moore Hall, built as a women's dorm in 1956 by Milton Pflueger and Thomas Church, in the Modern style;

* Lake House, an administrator's residence built in 1964, designed by John Carl Warnecke and Lawrence Halprin in the Modern style;

* The Knoll, built as the president's house in 1918, designed by Louis Christian Mullgardt in a Beaux Arts/Spanish Colonial style. This building now houses Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA).

An added element this year is a treasure hunt for kids ages 6 to 12.

This year's tour involves more walking than in years past, with the 12 buildings spread out over about a mile. Many are clustered near the Faculty Club, and parking on Sunday is readily available on campus. There will be no shuttles. The farthest building on the tour is The Knoll, which is situated on a hill; it can be viewed from below for those who don't want to make the climb.

Proceeds from the tour go towards an ongoing program to document the history of houses in the faculty-staff residential area.

What: Stanford Historical Society Historic Houses Walking Tour: Hidden Gems of Upper Lomita

When: Sunday, April 26, 1 to 4 p.m.

Where: 12 buildings in the center of campus

Cost: $15

Info: Stanford Historical Society; tickets can be picked up at the registration desk near Bechtel International Center, 584 Capistrano Way; parking is available in Tresidder parking lot (Lagunita Drive), Black House lot (Santa Teresa Street), Lagunita lot (Lomita Drive), A and C permit spots, and on-street parking.

Associate Editor Carol Blitzer can be emailed at

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