Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Haehl House, Palo Alto

Lowell Avenue facade. Photo: A. B. Clark, 1920

The house at 1680 Bryant Street, corner of Lowell Avenue, in Palo Alto was built for H. A. Haehl in 1914. It has elements of Art Nouveau, Viennese Secessionism, and Prairie School. A photo of this house appeared in "Art Principles" by A. B. Clark with a diagram illustrating the interplay of rectangles in the facades and window muntins. What stands today of this house is only the north half of a larger house at 275 Lowell Avenue. The original house was over 6,000 square feet and had an H-shaped floor plan with the entrance between the two legs of the H, on the Lowell Avenue side of the structure. There was apparently a porte cochere where the present entrance is.
I received confirmation from two sources that the house was split prior to 1950. Looking at the aerial views on Google Earth, the split appears to have been made prior to 1948.

Green: 275 Lowell, Orange: 1680 Bryant. Aerial Photo: USGS, 1948

Sandra Sigurdson sent a photo and wrote that her family lived this house since 1983. She said that what had been the south portion of the house was made a separate property sometime in the late Forties and that the owners of the south portion tore it down in 1997 for construction of a new house on that property.

This story dovetails with information I received from Rick Simpson, whose family owned 1680 Bryant from 1950 to 1968. He had been told that the passage connecting the two sides of the house had been severed immediately after WWII. Rick clarified that the south portion of the house had the address 275 Lowell Avenue and was owned by the family of concert pianist Adolf Baller from 1950 to sometime in the 1990's. After the Ballers sold it, the new owner tore it down to build a larger house.

Bryant Street facade. Photo: S. Sigurdson, 2003

Some remodeling was done to the present house but Ms. Sigurdson said the changes they made were true to the style of JHT's original design. This house is listed on the City of Palo Alto Historic Inventory.