Image: This is 1916 Stone Avenue as it appeared about 1978. It was demolished a few years later to make way for a commercial building. Photo by Ralph Pearce.
In the 1960s and 1970s, my dad would take Almaden Expressway to work every day. On the trip downtown, he began noticing an old house from the height of an overpass (for trains, and now the Guadalupe Parkway as well). The house was only visible for an instant on a curve, but it caught your eye because of its architecture and the fact that very little paint remained on the long abandoned structure.
Image: Here is the Queen Anne style house as it appeared in the early 1890s (the street address at the time was 319). From left are Charles, Della, Laura, and John Barb. Photo courtesy of the Barb family.
Because you were looking down onto a non-intersecting street, it was hard to see how one might get down to the street below. But my parents’ curiosity eventually got the best of them, and they figured out that the house was located on Stone Avenue, accessible from Curtner Avenue near the Oak Hill Memorial Park.
Image: One of the watercolors that I did of the house in the 1970s. My favorite was one I did of the tank house, which I gave away. Mr. Barb once offered me the windmill that had once been mounted on the tank house, however I settled for a piece of "gingerbread" from the front porch.
As a teenager in the mid-1970s, I began visiting the house myself to take photographs and paint watercolors. One day an older fellow came over from the house next door to let me know that he owned the old house. His name was Charles Barb Jr. Mr. Barb told me that the house had been built by his grandfather John Barb, an orchardist, and that he’d also done some carpentry work on Sarah Winchester’s house.
Image: Interestingly, before Curtner Avenue came through from Willow Glen (and continued east as Tully Road), Stone Avenue curved, and then continued on as far as Monterey Road. Also visible on this 1948 USGS aerial photo is Oak Hill Memorial Park to the south, and what would become The Plant Shopping Mall to the north.
Further Reading in the California Room:
- Captive of the Labyrinth: Sarah L. Winchester Heiress to the Rifle Fortune by Mary Jo Ignoffo
- California Room Collection: Architecture San Jose
- Aerial Photos: 1931, 1948, 1960, 1968, 1981
- San Jose City Directories & Phone Books