Archive for the ‘Buildings’ Category

Moffett Field – Hanger One & Zeppelins

Many years ago Moffett Field’s Hangar One was built for the USS Macon. Today the goal is to save Hangar One from demolition. Hope is with the Navy and NASA Ames to follow though with plans to bring Hangar One up to current safety standards.

The History of Moffett Field – a Free Lecture: sponsored by the Saratoga Historical Foundation.

“John Mascali will trace the 75 year history of Moffett Field beginning in 1930 to the present. The multi-media presentation is free to the public. Mascali, a director of Moffett Field’s Historical Society will recount stories of the construction of the historic Hanger One, the dirigible USS Macon, the squadrons and aircraft that have flown out of Moffett Field and some of the history of NASA Ames.

Hangar One, built during the Depression, is one of the largest unsupported structures in the country. The floor covers 8 acres and can accommodate 10 football fields. The hangar’s’interior is so large that fog sometimes forms near the ceiling. Hangar One was used to house the USS Macon, a 785 foot dirigible. The Macon could accommodate 100 officers and men; sleeping berths, a mess room, a galley and observation platform in the nose and tail. The Navy used the dirigible for reconnaissance. The ship was useful because of its silent motion and speed (up to 80 mph) for long distance.”

Monday, March 15 @ 7:15 PM
Immanuel Lutheran Church
14103 Saratoga Avenue
Saratoga, CA 95070

In 2008 I was invited to go up in an Airship moored at Moffett Field. It was a ride of a lifetime.

see Airship Ventures

Zeppelin flickr set

San Jose Then and Now

I think they’ve been online for a while, but I just found out about a couple of great sets of “then and now” photos hosted by the Buena Vista Neighborhood Association. There are found photos of commercial buildings and homes from the first half of the 20th century (and earlier), compared with new photos taken in the last couple of years; as well as a group of 1976 photos of downtown San Jose rescued from the Redevelopment Agency’s dumpster and compared with photos from 2006.

Below, my contribution, a 1920’s(?) city directory photo of the Franco Brothers’ market at the corner of Fifth and Santa Clara, now the site of City Hall:

Fifth and Santa Clara

A Show of Hands at SJC

Hands by Christian Moeller

Hands by Christian Moeller

“Hands” by artist Christian Moeller will adorn the new public/rental-car garage at Mineta San José International Airport in a showy manner. The mural will span 1,200 feet and stand seven stories tall – approximately 60 feet high.

Driving through SJC the hands looked to reach up and snatch at the rain.

Play with the SJC webcam (up to November so far)

Ryland Pool Restoration Celebration

Bachelder Dutch Boy tiles were reproduced as part of the restoration of the Rotary Ryland Pool.

Bachelder 'Dutch Boy' tiles were reproduced as part of the restoration of the Rotary Ryland Pool.

Near-downtown residents got together today to celebrate the completion of historical restoration work on the Rotary Ryland Pool at Ryland Park in the Vendome neighborhood. Vendome Neighborhood Association president Tina Morrill presented restored tilework on the pool, as well as educational signage, a commemorative plaque, and a new sign for the entry to the pool.

The pool was originally built in the 1920’s, featuring the Batchelder “Dutch Boy” tiles around its perimeter wall. These tiles were later painted over, probably in the 1970’s. What’s worse, to make the paint adhere better, the tiles were sandblasted, eliminating their original glaze and much of their relief pattern.

In 2006, when the city of San Jose wanted to close the pool, the public outcry, massive efforts by a small group of volunteers, and $1.4 million in funding came together to save it. The pool reopened last summer, but the historical restoration work continued over the past year.

Reproduction Dutch Boy tiles were produced from a mold taken from a 1920’s era Batchelder tile found at an out-of-state antique tile dealer. A commemorative plaque was installed, recognizing the contribution of the Rotary Club in donating the original pool and funding the recent restoration work. An education placard was also posted, explaining the restoration proces, and also hopefully making the point that historic resources should not be treated as cavalierly as the pool and its tiles once were. Finally, a new sign was added at the entry to the pool, designed by Northsider Sonya Lu and fabricated by Brian’s Welding, just down the street from the park.

Ryland Pool sign

The new entryway sign at Ryland Pool.

Road Trip: Modesto Reel Food Film Festival

75th Anniversary Poster

75th Anniversary Poster

Before my parents made the big move to the Bay Area at the end of 1959, we lived a good number of years in Modesto, Ca. Many homes back then didn’t have air-conditioning. Our rental house, on Paradise Road, didn’t even have a swamp cooler to help us deal with the blistering hot days of valley summer. One way my friends and I survived was by learning to swim in the canal. But, by far the best was convincing a parent to give us a ride into town to an air-cooled movie theater where music played as we settled in our seats opening boxes of Good and Plenty.

Sadly two of the movie houses, The Strand and The Covell, were lost to urban redevelopment, but I was overjoyed to learn that the third was saved and refurbished in all its art deco glory. The State Theatre now plays host to both film and live performances.

The Third Annual Modesto Reel Food Film Festival
Sunday – September 27
2 PM
The State Theatre – 307 J Street, Modesto
For Tickets call (209) 527-4697
($10 ticket price includes snacks from local restaurants.)

Antique Packards on The Alameda


If it was buying or, “Just looking, thank you.”, I enjoyed car shopping with my dad. I was very disappointed that day, in 1955, when he picked the valley-green/raven-black two-tone Pontiac over the dreamy blue and white Chevy. My mom tells me that they were very proud of it. But green and black? It was better than the, what I found, odd looking 40’s car in which my cousin had to ride. Poor Uncle Joe had an old Packard.

A collection of antique Packards will be on display outside of the restored 1944 Leland Cerruti/Howard Gustin Packard dealership building.

The Alameda Business Association open house includes tours of the renovated colonial style building, and refreshments.

Wednesday, September 2
5:30PM to 7:30PM
Presentation @ 6:00PM
865 The Alameda, San Jose – 95126 (@ Rhodes Court)

San Jose 1948 an Aerial View

markc09_blue_biplane_with_red_wings_1In 1774 wild cattle wandered under giant willows and through blackberries that grew in a swampy area that is now known as Willow Glen. As I try to fall asleep I rather imagine my bed among the fruit trees that flourished here in 1948.

To see what was once where your bed is now try Historic Aerials (can be slow to load). Put in your address, zoom in, zoom out or pan the image. I enjoyed looking at our valley in 1956 with ‘Major Roads’ on, to see where the freeways of the future would be. To get a look at Park Ave. as it runs through what is now Plaza De Cesar Chavez Park use 170 S Market St 95113 (The Fairmont Hotel). Panning the image can be a bit fussy and slow, but it is a good way to navigate to a spot if the address is not known. Set it to 1948, zoom out – pan around our valley and just look at the orchards.

San Jose Grocery History

Gurus Market today.

Guru's Market today.

I was recently pointed at a discussion thread on Yelp!, on the topic of the proposed Little Italy district somewhere near downtown San Jose. The post that caught my eye was near the top, where Anthony B. says “Gurus liquor store was the first grocery store in San Jose, Jeoy Francos PW, and it was Italian owned.” Earlier investigation had led to the information that the Guru’s Liquor building was built in 1934 by the same contractor who had earlier built my house, back in the 1910’s; so I wanted to find out if he had really also built San Jose’s first grocery store, and started the Joey Franco’s chain that’s still around today.

Unfortunately, it turns out Anthony B.’s claim isn’t quite true, but there is an interesting story connecting the building and the Franco family.

First, this wasn’t a Joey Franco’s PW Market. As the story is told on the PW Markets community page, Joey Franco started out in the grocery business working for his cousins, the brothers Henry and Joseph Franco, at their Franco Brothers Markets. The 13th and Washington Street store was one of theirs, and it was known as Franco’s 13th Street Market.

Second, this wasn’t the first grocery store in San Jose. It wasn’t even Franco Brothers’ first store. Visiting the California Room at the San Jose Public Library to review the old city directories, I found out that as early as 1925 they had a store on Santa Clara Street. It might have moved in the interim, but in 1932 they were located at 5th and Santa Clara, a site that is now, I guess, buried beneath City Hall. One of the key selling points was their own “$25,000 Ice Cream Factory”. They built the 13th Street store in 1934, and by 1945 they had added a third store on The Alameda. They were still listed in the directory in 1950, but by 1960 Franco Brothers were out of business.

So, what’s now Guru’s Market and Liquors wasn’t actually San Jose’s first grocery, and it wasn’t Joey Franco’s PW Market; but it was Italian-owned and in the Franco family. And that’s still a nice piece of San Jose history to keep in mind.

Francos Thirteenth Street Market, circa 1945.

Franco's Thirteenth Street Market, circa 1945.

SJ Rep called on the carpet!

lower-lobbyOur own San Jose Repertory Theatre is a really beautiful venue, even more so inside than out.  They also generously support our community and youth, and are a huge contributor to the Cinequest Film Festival.  San Jose would not be such a fun place to live without the Repertory Theatre.

However, upon exiting the balcony from a recent show that I attended, I happened to look down at the steps and was shocked at the condition of the carpet.  Threadbare, dull and worn, it really showed the effects of having thousands and thousands of feet walking through over the years.  It was so disappointing to see how worn it was, and it really takes away from the great beauty of the rest of the building.

So I was surprised and very happy to hear that the SJ Rep has received a Challenge Grant to remedy this exact problem!  Emeritus Board member John Michael Sobrato has pledged to pay half the cost of new carpet if The Rep can bring in the other half with contributions.  This is a very generous gift, and one I hope will not be missed.  In even more wonderful news, The Rep has already raised one third of the matching funds.  The other 2/3 must be raised by June 30, 2009, and despite their very generous regular donors, they need funds specific to this fundraising goal.

Offers as generous as this don’t come around very often.  It is my sincere hope that although we are all in some very tough times, the people of the South Bay can help pitch in to take advantage of this offer.  If you could contribute just five dollars it would be so appreciated.  If you could contribute $20 or $50 it would bring them even closer to their goal.  They only have one month to collect donations in order to receive this Challenge Grant; I hope we can all pull together and help The Rep achieve this goal.

Time is of the essence.

Please contact Development Associate Janet Herrington to make a donation to this cause.  She can be reached at 408-367-7264 or




Hanchett Park Historic Homes Tour

Hanchett Park Home Tour
The neighborhood of Hanchett Park will host its first first Historic Homes Tour on Saturday. Hanchett Park was developed as a residence park in the early 20th century. Today, the area still has some of San Jose’s best preserved historic homes.

The tour theme is “Preservation and Inspiration”, and the tour features five homes reflecting an “eclectic mix of architecture and lifestyles.”

When: Saturday, May 30. 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Where: Purchase same day tickets at 1265 Sierra Ave., San Jose. Addresses of Tour homes are provided on your ticket. Purchase advanced tickets at Silver Leaf Antiques (1343 The Alameda), Willow Glen Home and Garden (1123 Lincoln Avenue), or online.

Price: $21 per person in advance. $25 on tour day.

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