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An American Foursquare Spotlighted the 2017 Santa Clara Historic Home Tour

According to Reverend Dr. Michael Ferrito, his historic home was built with a rectangular box design, a style with origins from 1905 up to the 1920s. As far as he understands, the rectangular box design is synonymous with what is called the American Foursquare. Michael Ferrito’s American Foursquare was one of the architectural gems featured from Dec. 1 to Dec. 2 in this year’s Santa Clara Historic Home Tour, sponsored by the Historic Preservation Society of Santa Clara in collaboration with the Old Quad Residents’ Association.

“There are only two American Foursquares in the City of Santa Clara; architecturally speaking, our home is one of two American Foursquares here,” Michael Ferrito said. “This home was built in 1907 for a man named William Coker. Evidently, he was a carpenter from Pennsylvania.”

Many years later, an earthquake caused some damage that was fortunately fixable.

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“When we bought this home in April 1989 before the Loma Prieta earthquake, we were having some reconstruction done,” Michael Ferrito said. “Plaster is beautiful but it cracks. We had some experts here who were able to reapply the plaster for us. And in October 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake hit. So that resulted in some cracks in the new plaster.”

Before the historic home tour, Michael Ferrito and his wife Gwen Ferrito were busy setting up elaborate Christmas decorations to enhance their home’s bright and inviting atmosphere.

“We have a red tablecloth and we are going to place Christmas plates on it to show that we are going to have a formal Christmas dinner,” said Michael Ferrito of their plans for the dining table. “The plates have Christmas scenes on them and they sit on silver chargers. Our silverware will be silver. Our salad plates, made from milk glass, were made about 90 years ago. We’ll put on the table a set of crystal glasses from Murano, Venice. Our cloth napkins will match the tablecloth and will be put in silver napkin rings. We’ll have a floral centerpiece made for us by Santa Clara’s Fujii Florists and we’ll probably have some candles.”

“I have one Christmas tree in the living room with the decorations my children and grandchildren have made; these are decorations that our family has had for about 40 years,” said Gwen Ferrito, who added Christmas trees to many rooms. “In our TV room, which is our family room, we show our collections of nutcrackers and a tree decorated with Santas. Downstairs in the kitchen, I made a kitchen tree with ornaments of miniature tea pots. I decorated our bedroom’s tree with red and green accents. I think the company that made the plates hanging over our bed is Spode, an English company.”

“What is special about this house is the way the family made it comfortable for them to live in but at the same time they respected the history of the house and replicated architectural details,” said Janet Stevenson, a volunteer home tour committee coordinator who worked with fellow volunteer Katie Carter on this home. “When they converted two bedrooms into one family room, they added columns in the entryway into the family room that are replications of the columns in the entryway of the living room.”

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