Historic Preservation



The City of Palo Alto values its historic resources and understands the need to preserve and protect its culturally, historically and architecturally significant places in order to create a vibrant and sustainable community that fully reflects Palo Alto’s diverse past and history.  The City of Palo Alto’s Historic Preservation Program began in 1979 and currently boasts four National Register Districts and hundreds of individually significant resources.  The City of Palo Alto Planning & Community Environment Department and Historic Resources Board (HRB) are the groups within local government responsible for designating, reviewing and promoting historic resources. This website provides information about historic preservation and the historic resources located in the City of Palo Alto.  We’re here to help with the following tools and programs:


News and






Contact Us!

Brief History of

Palo Alto

There are many ways to protect, preserve, interpret and celebrate our shared historic resources.  In Palo Alto, design guidelines, the Secretary of the Interior's Standards, historic walking tours and community outreach events are just some of the ways we accomplish this goal.  The facts surrounding the ownership of a historic property can sometimes be misrepresented and we are here to straighten out any misconception. 

If you have specific questions regarding design review, what modifications can be made to a historic property, historic listing status for a property, how to research your home, the benefits of preserving historic places or what an HRB meeting entails, please read through the Project Review page for frequently asked questions and check out the other links above.  Additionally, don't hesitate to contact us with any other questions you may have.  

We look forward to helping you!


News and Projects

Eichler Design Guidelines
The City is in the process of developing architectural design guidelines for Palo Alto’s residential neighborhoods that were developed by Eichler Homes following World War II. The guidelines will include compatibility criteria for remodels, additions, and new construction within the City’s Eichler neighborhoods. The illustrated guidelines will provide advice and direction for undertaking work in ways that retain the architectural character of the neighborhoods. The guidelines will address common scopes of work such as new building additions, façade changes, moving/lifting buildings on lots, and new construction on developable sites. Please see our page on Eichler Neighborhood Design Guidelines for more information.

Lasting Impressions of Pedro de Lemos: The Centennial Exhibition (October 3, 2017 - December 3, 2017)
Celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford's Department of Art & Art History presents Lasting Impressions of Pedro de Lemos: The Centennial Exhibition, on view October 3 - December 3, 2017.  For more information click here.

Preservation Month! (May 2018)
Although it’s always preservation month around here, May has officially held the title since 1973. This is a great time to showcase the social and economic benefits of historic preservation! The California Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) invites all California communities and preservation enthusiasts to make the month of May an opportunity for discovering/re-discovering, honoring, and sharing the unique heritage of your local region. Visit a historic site, sponsor or attend a cultural festival or event, nominate a historically significant property to the National Register of Historic Places. Has your family lived in your community for generations or did they immigrate more recently from another country? Write up your history, include photographs, and create a family history book. Historic preservation is not only about preserving buildings and sites, but also the stories and traditions connected to those places. Preserve the history, tell the stories! We are looking forward to celebrating Preservation Month in Palo Alto next year.  Stay tuned for more information!

California Preservation Foundation Conference (May 2018)
CPF provides statewide leadership, advocacy and education to ensure the protection of California's diverse cultural heritage and historic places.  Work is underway to ensure a successful, informative and exciting event!  Stay tuned for more information!

Preservation Highlights

There are many social and economical benefits to historic preservation and here are just a few of preservation success stories in Palo Alto!  Know of a great preservation success story here in Palo Alto?  Send us a message and let us know!  We'd like to showcase a variety of properties.

Stanford Theater (223 University Ave)

A Cinematic Gem

The theater is a an inventive example of its kind, now rapidly disappearing.  Originally known as the Marquee, the theater was built in 1914 by Henry C. Schmidt.  Ten years later, Ellis P. Arkush and others purchased the site, modernized the building and renamed it the Stanford Theater.  The "new" theater boasted an eye-catching marquee, sumptuous lobby decorations and a fine theater organ - you can still hear an organ play at the Stanford to this day.  The theater underwent a major renovation and is one of the architectural treasures you'll find downtown.

The Stanford Theater is a Category 2 property on the local inventory (inventory form). 

Woman's Club of Palo Alto (475 Homer Ave)

Social Center of Women's Rights 

Built in 1916, the Woman's Club of Palo Alto combines elements of Tudor Revival and Craftsman, featuring half-timbering, stucco siding and an overall charming appearance.  Designed by Edward Hodges, Resident Architect of Stanford from 1900 to 1906, the Club was a center of civic, cultural and philanthropic activity in Palo Alto and continues to encourage women's full participation in both their communities and nation. 

The Woman's Club of Palo Alto is a Category 2 property on the local inventory and is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NR nomination).


Hewlett-Packard House and Garage (367 Addison Ave)

The Birthplace of Silicon Valley

367 Addison Avenue, built in 1905, is a two-story, Craftsman style residence with two simple outbuildings, one of which is a small rectangular garage.  William Hewlett and David Packard lived and worked at the residence from 1938 to 1940, the short period when they created their first successful products.  HP became the nucleus for the creation of Silicon Valley, the first high technology region in the world.

The Hewlett-Packard House and Garage is a Category 1 property on the local inventory, a California Landmark and individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NR nomination). 


Contact Us!

Emily Vance

Historic Preservation Planner




Amy French

Chief Planning Official & HRB Liaison       




Historic Resources Board





Last Updated: Nov 8, 2017