If Leon Bean were a builder, he would build buildings, right? And those buildings—at least some of them—should be visible, some place where I can find them, right?
Some place like Palo Alto, for instance, since several newspaper entries list the contracts he received to build houses there.
After all, if newspaper reports are to be believed, 1906 would have been a busy year for Leon. Among other projects in Palo Alto, those newspapers tell me, Leon:
- built a home for H. M. V. Fowler at an estimated cost of $8000 in April
- supervised construction of a two story home for E. E. Peck on “one of the finest residence streets” for $8065 in the same month, with design by architects Wolfe and McKenzie
- constructed a residence, at an undisclosed price, for “Professor Drew” somewhere near the corner of Waverley and Melville.
Since I have the opportunity to head in the direction of the Bay Area this weekend, I thought it might be interesting to locate some of these buildings—if any were still standing. We are, after all, talking about buildings completed over one hundred years ago.
Unfortunately, try as I might, I cannot locate actual addresses for any of these homes—with the exception of the approximate location of the third project near Waverley and Melville. Even that one, though, is not readily observable through Google™ Maps, as a few buildings visible there could possibly have also been built at that time.
Oh, how it would help to have found some addresses.
With visions of convoluted research efforts break-dancing in my head, I shudder to think of how I can actually achieve that goal.
Clue: it probably won’t by happening by this Saturday.
Clue number two: it probably will entail a weekday visit to some governmental office. Groan. Read: red tape. Read: long waits.
How much do I want to see this?
Though I’ve reconsidered the cost, I still think it would be cool to find a house that Leon built. It won’t happen this weekend, but someday, it will.
If, of course, the building is still standing. The year of these contracts, after all, was 1906. And everyone who knows anything about the Bay Area knows what happened in 1906.
Photograph: Damage to houses from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake; from a 1906 stereopticon card; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.