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Historic board pans plan to move MacArthur Park

Original post made on Dec 6, 2012

Once a Menlo Park landmark, MacArthur Park's current home in Palo Alto is targeted for redevelopment. A proposal to relocate the historic Julia Morgan-designed building at 27 University Ave. to make way for four office towers and a theater drew a harsh reception at Wednesday morning's meeting of the Historic Resources Board, where members expressed grave concerns about uprooting what they called a significant part of the city's history.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 6, 2012, 10:47 AM

Comments (8)

Posted by Sandy Bardas
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm

How can any plans be made for the Julia Morgan Historic Building and indeed even the whole 27 University Complex until the High Speed Rail Controversy is finalized? Do we move buildings, build towers, moan about traffic and then have a train run through it all?

Posted by Really?
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Dec 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I don't understand how anyone can suggest that the current location of Hostess House is a good one. It's between the railroad tracks, a traffic circle, El Camino and a bus station. ANYWHERE else would be an upgrade. I'm sure that when Julia Morgan approved that site, it didn't look like it does now.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm

If you read the article you'd realize that the site Julia Morgan had in mind was the one currently occupied by the Coldwell Banker offices across the street from Fremont Park in Menlo Park. This building was part of the Army's Camp Fremont training grounds and was moved to it's current location after World War I.
As I recall, Palo Alto paid $1 for the building but covered the cost of cutting the structure into pieces, moving them, and then pasting them back together. I doubt Julia Morgan had any say in the relocation of the building - she was probably just relieved that it wasn't demolished, as happened to most of the structures from the camp.
One of the warehouses that supplied Camp Fremont also survives as the home to both the Oasis and the Menlo Atherton Glass shop. The warehouse was formerly located along Middle Avenue, near the current Safeway, and was moved after the war. Not sure what the owner paid the Army for the building. Both buildings were constructed from virgin redwood so will likely last for centuries if progress doesn't require otherwise.

Posted by Ethan
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Dec 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Here's the relevant sentence about Julia Morgan:
". . .Julia Morgan herself attended the City Council meeting on the relocation of Hostess House and approved the city's proposition for the new site."

Note that it says she approved the NEW site, which is to say the present one.

Posted by Mr E
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 10, 2012 at 9:52 am

This the deal is a mess. Leave the old building where it is, and improve the area around it. MacArthur is great for the old building and brings some life and excitement to the structure I hope they can stay. Hopefully this developer won't get his way though he has some many connected to this in his back pocket. I hope PA city members do the right thing.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2012 at 10:19 am

Ethan -
I stand corrected.
Thanks for digging up this historical fact and sharing it. Makes me wonder, per Really?'s post, what the area looked like when the building was first reconstructed at this site. Any chance you could uncover a photo from that post WWI era that sheds light on this?

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2012 at 10:30 am

Ethan -
I took my own suggestion and found a nice little article on the history of MacArthur Park that includes a number of historical photos of the buildin, all apparently in it's present location. It would be nice to see a photo of the building in it's original location in Menlo Park as part of Camp Fremont. The article was produced by the Palo Alto Stanford Heritage group (PAST) just this past Septemmber.
Check it out at Web Link

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2012 at 10:36 am

One last post:
PAST also produced a short video on the history of MacArthur park that includes an aerial photo of the entrance drive to the building with El Camino Real in the background. This is the best photo I've seen yet that shows the siting the Julia Morgan would have approved.
It's at Web Link

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