Post written by Kay Gutknecht.
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The Alameda Park subdivision includes 99 parcels on four streets—Schiele, Pershing, Harding and Hoover Avenues. (See Figure-1.) It was built out during the boom years of the 1920’s with modest, predominantly single-story family home, with two or three bedrooms and a single bath. The architecture is quintessential California, the type featured in Sunset magazine during this time and best classified as 20th century revival. The area has maintained a high level of architectural integrity through the years.
The Alameda Garden Subdivision Map
The 1920s in California
During the 1920s people flocked to California. The population grew 66% during this decade, with numerous people lured by promotional ads in magazines like Sunset.
WWI had been a boon to Santa Clara County’s fruit growing and packing industry, and by 1920 it was known as the “prune capital of the world”. By the mid 1920’s its reputation for other types of agriculture peaked as well, driving the need for support services and increasing the population of its cities.
San Jose reflected this with a population growth of 45%, from 1920 to 1930. Many of the city’s most distinctive buildings date from this period, including the Bank of Italy (later the Bank of America) which built a $1,000,000 building in at the corner of First and Santa Clara Streets. By 1928 San Jose had 119 miles of paved streets and the distinction of having the greatest weekday automobile count of any city in the State, one car for every 2.92 people.
The Alameda Park Subdivision
The Alameda Park subdivision was strategically situated to support the city’s phenomenal population growth. It was only one and one-quarter miles from First and Santa Clara streets and just off The Alameda which was served by a streetcar line, making for an easy commute into the heart of downtown San Jose. It was also an easy walking distance to the canning and canning support businesses on Stockton Avenue and almost next door to the Falstaff brewery.
A.J. Maderis, a realtor with offices on The Alameda, subdivided, improved and marketed the lots. Laid out with an eye to building community and guaranteeing the neighborhood’s success, it was a very early type of planned community.
The terms and conditions of ownership required residences cost at least $3500 and be set back 20 feet from the sidewalk line. These requirements, plus the driveway cuts placed on the right side of each lot, dictated a symmetry and quality level in the build-out.
Lot improvements were numerous, including sewer, water, gas and electricity connections. A sense of community was created by sidewalks and curbs, electroliers installed on Pershing, Hoover and Harding Avenues, and Sycamore trees planted in every park strip. It was also set back from The Alameda so children could safely play away from heavy traffic, and almost next door to Hester Grammar school, so children did not have to cross car tracks to get to school.
Promoting its location in The Alameda district, San Jose’s “best neighborhood”, the Alameda Park targeted young managers and small business owners ambitious for their families who wanted to live in the City’s most exclusive residential district. Credit terms were available to these up-and-coming business men–only 10% down and $10.00 a month for the lot, and 25% cash down to build the family’s residence. Although the target audience was young families, in reality the buyers and developers were primarily speculators.
During the first year, development occurred primarily on Pershing and Hoover Avenues. The following year Harding was underway with Schiele Avenue constructions the last to start. By the crash of 1929, only four lots remained undeveloped.
81 of the 95 homes built during the 1920s remain and continue to reflect their original 20th century revival architecture. They fall into six styles: Spanish Eclectic (33 homes), Tudor (24 homes), Craftsman (13 homes), Italian Renaissance (6 homes), Mission (4 homes) and Prairie (1 home). Additionally, there are four homes with no single dominant style. Even those homes classified into a style frequently have some influence of another.
The homes are predominately stucco, a new building material introduced after WWI. Only five houses have the wood board sheathing used in earlier building applications.
Spanish Eclectic – dominant features are low-pitched roof with little or no eave overhang or flat roof, red tile roof covering, façade normally asymmetrical.
Italian Renaissance – dominant features are low-pitched hipped roof, arches above doors, entrance accented by small classical columns or pilasters.
Tudor – dominant features are steeply pitched roofs, usually side-gabled (less commonly hipped or front-gabled) with the façade dominated by one or more prominent cross gables.
Mission – dominant features are mission-shaped dormer or roof parapet; red tile roof covering.
Craftsman – dominant features are low-pitched, gabled roof (occasionally hipped) with wide, unenclosed eave overhand; roof rafters usually exposed; decorative (false) beams or braces commonly added under gables, porches, either full- or partial-width, with roof supported by tapered square columns, columns or pedestals frequently extend to ground level (without a break at level of porch floor).
Prairie – dominant features are low-pitched roof, usually hipped, with widely overhanging eaves, façade detailing emphasizing horizontal lines, often with massive, square porch supports.
Windows and Doors
Windows and doors are a key feature of every home in the Alameda Park. All have (or had) true divided lights in a variety of pane patterns. Square or rectangular window panes are either presented in a frame pattern or are evenly divided into panes of the same size. Semi-circle window panes are presented in fan, sunburst or evenly divided patterns. The variations identified on homes in the subdivision are:
|6-light partial frame (529 Hoover)||9-light frame (750, 774, 798, 882 Schiele, 515, 519, 569, 579 Hoover)|
|10-light frame (549 Hoover)||11-light frame (822 Schiele)|
|11-light extended frame (895 Harding)||12-light frame (569 Hoover)|
|13-light frame (579 Hoover)||Evenly divided (509, 529, 539, 599 Hoover) (738, 762, 786, 810, 846, 858 Schiele)|
|3-light fan (599 Hoover)||4-light fan (501 Hoover)|
|5-light sunburst (599 Hoover)||Evenly divided (539 Hoover)|
Most homes have a focal window group or ribbon as its center piece, the forerunners to what today would be considered a “picture window”. Each focal window group is comprised of a central stationary window, containing a single pane of the largest commercially available sheet of glass available at the time, surrounded by side and/or top windows or various types. Ribbons string together three or more of the same window:
|Focal group of 4 windows. Central pane of glass flanked by double-hungs and topped of the double-hungs and the small stationary window have a 9-light frame pane pattern.||Focal group of three windows. Central stationary window flanked by casements. All windows have a unique 12-light pane pattern.|
|Ribbon of three arched windows. Although the house is classified as a Spanish Eclectic, the windows are Italian Renaissance.||One ribbon of three windows and another of four. Windows and door have an 11-light pane pattern.|