Birge Clark (1893-1989)
Publication Date: Wednesday May 25, 1994

Birge Clark (1893-1989)

Many of Palo Alto's most treasured architectural landmarks were designed by native son Birge Clark, a 1910 graduate of Palo Alto High School.

In a prolific career spanning five decades, the architect designed more than 200 commercial and residential buildings in Palo Alto and on the Stanford campus. Clark was an exponent of Spanish Colonial Revival design, a distinctive style which he called "Early California."

The son of Arthur B. Clark, Stanford professor of art and architecture and Mayfield's first mayor, Birge Clark assisted his father as "clerk of the works" for the Lou Henry Hoover house at Stanford. President Herbert Hoover gave the home to Stanford after his wife's death for use as the university president's residence.

Between 1922 and 1930, Clark was the only architect with an office in Palo Alto. He designed a total of 98 Palo Alto residences, including all of the homes on Coleridge Avenue between Cowper and Webster streets, and 39 Stanford campus homes. Three homes of which he was proudest were the Dunker House at 420 Maple St., the Charles and Kathleen Norris House at 1247 Cowper St. and the Lucie Stern residence at 1990 Cowper. His close association with the charitable Mrs. Stern led him to design several buildings of the Community Center at 1305 Middlefield Road as well as the Children's Library nearby and the Sea Scout base at the harbor.

Other well-known buildings by Clark include the former police-fire station at 450 Bryant St., now the Palo Alto Senior Center, and the Hamilton Avenue branch of the post office. He and his brother David also designed Palo Alto's first junior high school, David Starr Jordan Middle School, which opened in 1937.

--Peter Gauvin This is the sixth in a series of profiles on the "Creators of the Legacy," 55 people who are being honored this year by the Palo Alto Centennial for their roles in creating Palo Alto in all its aspects.

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