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Gothic Revival Home Turned Industrial Farmhouse Featured in City’s Historic Home Tour

Convoy of Hope and 49ers Partner, Bring Families Holiday Joy

At the front of the Gothic Revival home at 1490 Santa Clara St. is a dormer, which includes a window that gives the home an engaging third eye to complement the two windows below it. On the porch, rustic Adirondack chairs and potted poinsettia plants welcomed the touring party of Santa Clara’s Historic Home Tour on Dec. 2 and Dec. 3. With a sponsorship from the San Francisco 49ers, this year’s home tour showcased four private homes, the Harris Lass House Museum and a photo exhibit at the Mission Branch Library. 

“One of the reasons why this house is being featured is because it was built anywhere between 1863 and 1867 so it’s one of the older homes in Santa Clara,” says Janet Stevenson, a volunteer home tour committee coordinator for the Gothic Revival. “The flooring in the living room, dining room and the two children’s bedrooms upstairs is 150 year-old douglas fir flooring.”

“I bought the house in 2002 with my then-girlfriend Marisa who is now my wife,” says Rob Mayer, an architect. “The house is 3,300 square feet spread among three floors.”

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An elaborate table setting for a holiday meal greeted visitors at the front door. While the vintage chandelier above the dining table came with the house, other items here are from the Mayers’ families. Mayer’s grandmother once owned the china. The ornately carved table and silverware belonged to Marisa’s maternal grandparents and fraternal grandmother.

“Having this here makes us feel our ancestors are here with us,” Mayer says.

The kitchen’s 1940s hanging lights were purchased on Ebay from a Kentucky molasses factory. A farm hutch keeps glassware, ceramics and cookbooks. The hutch has been shuffled among three homes in the Old Quad neighborhood before the Mayers purchased it from a neighbor.

“We consider our home an industrial farmhouse,” says Mayer, who happens to be a parent at Washington Open School. “As a Washington Open auction item, we auctioned off a farm to table dinner that we will be hosting in May at our home.”

Upstairs, the bathroom sink in the master bedroom was once used in an unknown school in the Santa Clara Unified School District. In the bathroom down the hall is a tub that originated from the home’s original outhouse, which was a little shack.

“We think the bathroom was moved into the house in 1915 because there were newspapers that were dated to 1915 below the linoleum,” Mayer says.

Particularly charming is a book nook and hang out spot Mayer fashioned for his daughters, Ellie and Adina, between their two adjacent bedrooms. Decals of colorful butterflies decorate the wall in front of a cozy ottoman.

Also part of the tour was the basement, furnished with a guest room, an office, spiraling metal stairs and an Exit sign from Ebay.

“The tradition of the city’s historic home tours began in 1978, so this will be the 38th home tour;  we are fortunate to have our Old Quad neighborhood with these beautiful homes from the 1800s,” says Jeannie Mahan, who co-chaired the historic home tour with Lou Faria. “Counting our docents, we had close to 700 people go through the historic homes [this year].   It’s the best turn out in recent years.”

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