Jose Maria Alviso Adobe

Current view of the Alviso Adobe
Current view of the Alviso Adobe

Photograph by Judith Silva, courtesy of the City of Santa Clara

Quick Facts

92 Piedmont Rd.
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.

Last updated: January 26, 2018