Wed05042016

News

MV council adopts rent dispute ordinance, despite reservations

Despite criticism that it lacked teeth, the Mountain View City Council approved last week a second reading and adoption of a controversial program aimed at resolving rental-housing disputes between tenants and landlords.

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alwa...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Preserving the past: Local home turns 100


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town CrierLos Altos homeowners Armond and Marjorie King celebrate their homes centennial in July.

 

The 1.5-story Craftsman bungalow at 530 Cherry Ave. in Los Altos has been home to three generations of the same family and has witnessed two marriages, two deaths and two births.

It has remained much the same through the years – a timeless treasure – as more and bigger houses have sprung up around it and the orchards have vanished.

Owners Marjorie and Armond King wanted to maintain its original identity, believing it to be their “honor and duty.” And now they want to celebrate a milestone – the home’s 100th birthday.

So the Kings, with help from the Los Altos History Museum, are throwing their house a birthday party July 20. The celebration, open to the public, will feature period music by Paul Price’s Society Orchestra (Price is Marjorie’s son-in-law). And, of course, other family members will be there, too, including Armond’s cousin Dick Liewer, former assistant superintendent of curriculum for the Los Altos School District.

Split decision

The house is easy to find because of the large sign, “H. Bleibler Ornamental Ironwork,” out front. It’s from the Palo Alto blacksmith shop Armond’s grandfather, Herman Bleibler, opened circa 1905.

Since Bleibler built the Cherry Avenue house, it was only appropriate the sign be placed in front of it when the shop, on the corner of Forest and High streets, was sold in 2001. Bleibler’s wrought-iron artwork can still be seen in Palo Alto. (A photograph of author Kathleen Norris’ house showcasing Bleibler’s work hangs in the dining room.)

In 1910, the Swiss-born Bleibler and his German-born wife, Marie, purchased 5 acres of land, split evenly on both sides of Cherry Avenue. Marie held the deed to one side, while Herman held the deed to the other. Marie insisted that the family home be built on her side of the street so that if anything happened to Herman’s business, it would impact only the property on his side and their home would always be safe.

Their daughter Lucille Liewer lived in a house built in 1924 on his side of the street until her death in 2005.

The Bleibler house is sheathed in horizontal wood siding and has a small gabled dormer with a six-pane window sitting at the roofline. Ornamental ironwork railings enclose the recessed porch.

The house originally had two bedrooms, one bath and a sleeping porch. The bathroom has been remodeled and the porch is now a sitting room. Armond, a docent who keeps the model train running at the History Museum, transformed the upper story, or “attic,” into a guest suite.

The Bleiblers had the house wired for electricity, although it wasn’t delivered to them until a few years later when power lines were brought down Cherry Avenue from downtown. In the meantime, they used a diesel engine to run the water pump, cooked on a wood stove and read by the light of kerosene lanterns.

The living-room fireplace is constructed of bricks from Stanford Memorial Church, which fell during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Herman made the fireplace screen, andirons and fireplace tools, which are still in use. Not being used is his wrought-iron smoking stand, on display in the living room.

Herman also made the living-room light fixtures. His son Robert made the banister leading upstairs and the dining-room curtain rods.

The Bleiblers farmed their land and raised chickens, rabbits and hogs. Their children – Lucille, Robert, Alma and Josephine (Armond’s mother) – worked the farm, collecting eggs, feeding the animals and harvesting the crops.

“My grandfather always had big barbecues in the summer,” Armond said. “He set up long tables and then went out and killed a few chickens and rabbits and picked his own tomatoes. We’d sit around on warm summer nights and enjoy it.”

The Kings still sit outside on warm evenings, but on a raised deck built by Armond next to the old brick barbecue. The wrought-iron guardrail was salvaged from the ironworks.

Herman died in 1950, shortly after the Bleiblers’ 50th wedding anniversary, and Armond’s parents moved into the Cherry Avenue home with their three sons. Armond took ownership of the home in 1968.

Preserving the past

The living room is just the same as it was a century ago. A central bay window with double-hung windows on each side lets in light, and built-in bookcases on either side of the fireplace contain mementoes. A coved ceiling – typical of Craftsman-style homes of the 1900s – lends grace and dignity, as do the wood columns separating the living and dining rooms.

The dining room has tongue-and-groove wainscoting and a plate rail that wraps the room. A built-in breakfront has a mirrored pass-through to the kitchen.

The kitchen’s original cabinets, shelving and fold-down ironing board give a glimpse of what life was like at the time. A new addition is an electric stove that sits alongside a cast-iron stove.

Garage-sale finds such as a marble-topped commode and a vintage kitchen table add authenticity to the decor – thanks to Marjorie, who shares her husband’s passion for preserving the past.

And speaking of the past, Herman’s corrugated iron workshop at the back of the property is museumlike. Noteworthy, too, is Armond’s nearby “train room,” where he runs four different model trains. In addition, he operates a G Gauge train in the garden.

The Bleibler house was on the History Museum’s 2003 home tour. And it was the last stop on the Historic Bike Tour of Los Altos led by Gary Hedden of GreenTown Los Altos in September. The 75 bicyclists had lunch in the garden – a blast from the past. d

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