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Looking Back: The Treasure Chest and Other Little Buildings

Image: Front view of The Treasure Chest gift shop on Cherry Ave. in San Jose. Photo by Ralph Pearce

Image: The Treasure Chest Gift Shop on Cherry Avenue near Downtown Willow Glen. Photo by Ralph Pearce

A Hidden Treasure

Maybe it was the forts and tree houses I built as a kid, but I've always had a fascination with small buildings. Whether shops or houses or even garden sheds, there's something appealing about them.  One day many years ago, I was riding my bike down Cherry Avenue near downtown Willow Glen when I came upon a small, old store along an otherwise residential street. The shop was no longer open for business, though I later discovered that it had once been the neighborhood clock repair shop. The building has been restored since then, and retains a storefront facade (though appears not to house an actual business).


Image: A small residence on W. Alma Avenue.  Photo by Ralph Pearce
Image: A small residence along W. Alma Avenue. Photo by Ralph Pearce

Club Patio

Another interesting building that caught my eye is a small residence along West Alma Avenue. This small home was built in the early 1920s and measures just over 700 square feet. At the time it was built, the street was still known as Almaden Avenue. The street that we now know as Almaden Avenue was originally known as Orchard Street. After it took the name Almaden Avenue, the old Almaden Avenue became Almaden Road and then eventually West Alma Avenue. For a time, the building housed "Club Patio Energy Fitness."


Image: A gas station office from 395 Stockton Ave. now along W. Julian St. Photo by Ralph Pearce
Image: A gas station office originally located on Stockton Avenue. Photo by Ralph Pearce

A Pre-war Gas Station

This restored 1920s gas station office on West Julian and Morrison Park Drive recently caught my eye. It was originally located nearby on Stockton Avenue. I was unaware of the building when I wrote a post on pre-war gas stations a couple of years ago, and am glad to include it here.

Image: A small flower shop on East Julian Street. Photo by Ralph Pearce
Image: A small flower shop on East Julian Street. Photo by Ralph Pearce

Flower Shop

Here's a very narrow flower shop that I came across on East Julian Street. There are probably many buildings of this size, though often disguised by having buildings on either side. In the 1920s, the building was a grocery store and by the 1940s it was Berti's Liquors.  Berti's advertised free delivery stating, "We can't serve all the beer in town so - we serve the best."

Image: The switchman's shack at the Diridon Station in the 1980s. Photo by Ralph Pearce
Image: The switchman's shack at the Diridon train station in the 1980s. Photo by Ralph Pearce

Switchman's Shack

This final image is the switchman's shack (or shanty) that was located on the Santa Clara Street overpass just north of the train station. I took this photograph in the 1980s when the station was still known as Cahill Depot. The shack is no longer there and the station was renamed Diridon Station after its restoration in 1994.


Further Reading from the California Room:

Blog Category
Local History


Submitted by Jo-Ann Wang on Wed, 09/02/2020 - 4:13 PM


Your Comment
I loved the photos of the small houses in San Jose. So special.

Your Comment
Thanks Jo-Ann! Small buildings always catch my eye and imagination, so it seemed like it would be a fun blog.

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 09/08/2020 - 7:05 AM


Your Comment
I love your blogs! Keep up the good work. :)

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 09/08/2020 - 8:28 PM


Your Comment
Thanks for posting these! I really enjoy the posts about San José history!

Your Comment
I'm glad that you're enjoying them. Our Valley and its inhabitants have a rich and fascinating history, with so many stories waiting to be discovered and shared.

Submitted by Angeluz Peralta on Fri, 10/23/2020 - 5:52 PM


Your Comment
We are the owners of "A Touch of Love" flower shop located on 915 East Julian St. We knew George Berti the previous owner and yes, it was a grocery store and then turned to Berti's Liquors. Mr. Berti enjoyed his last years working in the backyard, taking care of the apple and peach trees.
Thank you, Ralph, for this blog.

Angeluz Peralta

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