National Register of Historic Places in Santa Clara County

National Register #99000580: Theophilus Allen House in Palo Alto 10 February 2011
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National Register #99000580
Theophilus Allen House
601 Melville Avenue
Palo Alto
Built 1905

The Theophilus Alien house is a large two-story frame Craftsman style residence designed by the prominent Oakland architect Alfred W. Smith and built by Gustav Laumeister, a leading builder of Craftsman houses in Palo Alto. Although the house is too large (8000+ square feet) to be considered a true bungalow, it exhibits the characteristic features of that style on a grander scale.

The consistent use of dark wood shingles and repeated structural and decorative motifs gives coherence to the house's exterior, which shows a successful integration of the Swiss chalet, Japanese timber, and English Tudor influences on the Craftsman style.

The Arts and Crafts movement, from about 1895 to 1920, was a critical period in California history, during which thousands of idealistic families, like the Theophilus Allens, moved to this state seeking the physical and spiritual benefits of a simpler, more wholesome and artistic life in harmony with a beautiful and benign natural environment.

The Craftsman homes created to express and accommodate this philosophy and lifestyle exerted a far-reaching influence on twentieth century American domestic architecture, inspiring on the one hand architecture as fine art in the work of Greene and Greene and on the other the modest pattern book bungalows that became America's most popular form of affordable housing through the 1920s.

As an early example of Craftsman architecture, the Allen house can contribute to the historical understanding as well as aesthetic appreciation of this style.

Excerpted from the NRHP nomination submitted in 1999.

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