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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Holbrook--Palmer Estate, "Elmwood"
Reference Number 16000663
State CA
County San Mateo
Town Atherton
Street Address 150 Watkins Ave.
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 9/26/2016
Areas of Significance Architecture
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The Water Tower and the Carriage House at Holbrook-Palmer Park are eligible for the National Register under Criterion C, at the local level, as a rare surviving pair of agricultural outbuildings constructed on one of the rural estates developed in Atherton during the late nineteenth century. The Water Tower was constructed ca. 1883 by the prominent San Francisco wholesale hardware dealer Charles C. Holbrook, as part of his "Elmwood" estate. The building was designed in the Second Empire style by San Francisco architect H.C. Macy to match the ca. 1875 Main House that Macy had also been hired to expand and remodel. The Colonial Revival-style Carriage House was constructed in 1897 by Charles Holbrook to replace a three-year-old barn destroyed earlier that year. The Water Tower is significant under Criterion C both for its Second Empire styling, as well as being a rare surviving example of a nineteenth-century tankhouse in Atherton. Most tankhouses were designed in a utilitarian mode, but the Water Tower at Holbrook-Palmer Park was designed to match the nearby "Parisian-style" Main House. The Carriage House is also significant as an example of a utilitarian building type designed in a recognizable architectural style, in this case the Colonial Revival style. It is one of only a handful of remaining barns or carriage houses in Atherton. Located approximately 75' apart, the pair of outbuildings remain essentially unchanged from the late nineteenth century, providing a rare window into a now almost entirely vanished world of nineteenth-century estates of southern San Mateo County. Atherton was once home to several-dozen of these grand rural estates. The twentieth century witnessed the sale, subdivision, and redevelopment of all of these estates. The Holbrook-Palmer Estate was one of the last to go, but unlike the rest its grounds were not subdivided and developed. Instead, it was converted into a park, which at least preserved its open space and its integrity as a single large landholding.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria