Current view of the Alviso Adobe
Photograph by Judith Silva, courtesy of the City of Santa
The Jose Maria Alviso Adobe, built in 1837 and enlarged in the
early 1850s, stands as an excellent example of the Monterey style
of architecture popularized throughout California in the 1830s
and 1840s. It is the only remaining example of this style in the
Santa Clara Valley and San Francisco Bay area. The building is
the result of a major remodeling completed by 1853 by the Alviso
family; Jose Maria Alviso and his wife Juana Francisca. They added
a wood-frame second floor to the family's one-story adobe house.
Jose served as a soldier with the San Francisco Company from 1819
to 1827, and saw California pass from Spain to Mexico, and then
from Mexico to the United States. Before the remodeling in 1853,
the earlier building, built around 1837, most likely as a one-story
adobe, provided the thick adobe walls of the first floor. The
Alviso Adobe is a two-story residence with a hipped roof and a
balcony carried on three sides. The plan of the rectangular residence
is symmetrical, comprising three rooms downstairs with three upstairs
rooms. The Alviso Adobe contains a remarkable amount of historic
fabric--adobe walls from the 1830s, examples of framing and doors,
windows, hardware from 1853 and an almost intact 1920s kitchen.
It is unusual to find a building as little altered over a period
of 150 years.
The Monterey style came into existence in the late 1830s and for
the next 20 years would have a significant impact on California's
built environment. The style represents a commingling of Hispanic
and Anglo architectural traditions. The Alviso Adobe exhibits the
character-defining features of the style: wood-shingled hipped roof,
wood balconies on three sides, paired French doors opening to the
outside, multi-paned windows, interior fireplaces, and a symmetrical
layout. The property is presently under renovation. The project
work comprises the upgrading of the existing historic farm to reflect
the theme of a working ranch and orchard as it would have appeared
in the 1920s. A number of mature trees are present on the site.
A historic barn containing timbers dating to the 1840s was recently
demolished. Both historic and prehistoric subsurface cultural remains
have been documented in the vicinity of the residence. Originally
built during Mexico's sovereignty over California, the Alviso Adobe
retains great cultural value.
Historic image of Jose Maria
Alviso Adobe, c1940 Photograph by Willis Foster, courtesy
of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic
American Buildings Survey or Historic American Engineering
Record, Reproduction Number HABS, CAL,43-MIL.V,1-1
The Alviso Adobe is located at the intersection of Piedmont
and Calaveras rds., Milpitas. Currently the site is under restoration
and is owned by the City of Milpitas. The main telephone number
for the City of Milpitas is 408-586-3000.