Tweed Town. Elbow Patch. While other neighborhoods simply required wealth to live in, Professorville took brains too. Today a sufficiently large bank account gets you one of these fine Palo Alto homes, but in the late 19th Century it took a big IQ and a professorship at Stanford University to qualify for home ownership.
The blocks surrounding Lincoln Avenue and Bryant Street are a historical district, lined with houses built toward the end of the 19th Century by professors who didn’t want to live on campus. Most of these homes were influenced by one or more of three architectural styles: Shingle, Colonial Revival, and Craftsman.
The Centennial Exhibition of 1876 made architects look back to the Colonial style of 100 years before. Homes designed under this influence exemplify balance and symmetry, with an elaborate front door in the middle, pairs of evenly spaced windows flanking it, and columns on the porch.
The credit for Shingle style goes to the same exhibition, although here the influence was English as well as American. These houses are easy to spot—they look like they were tipped upside down and coated in a batter of shingles.
Continuing the theme of architects looking backward, the influence underlying the Craftsman architectural style is the Arts and Crafts movement and its romanticised medievalism. These homes display strong horizontal lines and simple craftsmanship.
There’s no real consensus on the boundaries of Professorville, but it’s safe to say the area is bordered somewhere within Channing, Embarcadero, Alma, and Middlefield. Walk down Bryant Street from Addison Avenue, then turn left up Lincoln Avenue to Waverly Street to see a dozen or more of these homes, all built around the turn of the 20th Century.
If you go