Clarence Robert “Bob” Tower has created over 400 paintings, drawings, illustrations and other kinds of artwork. This artist, author and local historian keeps a glass cabinet containing hand-crafted items- stained glass art and a miniature horse and dog he carved over 80 years ago from pine wood and a jackknife. Some of this exquisite art was seen by the public for the first time during the 2015 Santa Clara Historic Home Tour on Dec. 4 and 5. The Tower House, built in 1938, was originally owned by George and Mary Bagtatori and purchased by Tower in 1964. It was one of the four private residences featured alongside the Santa Clara Railroad Depot, a public building. Over 600 people came for the home tour.
“This event is a celebration of these homes and their beauty; we want people to see the value of old homes in our community,” says Janet Stevenson, a volunteer home tour committee coordinator for the Tower House. Also volunteering at the Tower House was Katie Carter.
Tower is proud that his house has remained mostly intact and untouched since the day he moved in.
“Everything in this house is in its original form; only the kitchen counter and bathroom sink has been replaced,” he says.
Before Tower converted the breakfast nook in his kitchen to a writing office, he used the space for art. A former professional land surveyor and engineer, Tower is a self-taught artist who uses oil, acrylic, watercolor, and pen and ink in his art. Hung side by side in the hallway are two paintings. One features grocery items from the 1930s and 1940s, such as Pepsi in a glass bottle and Cream O’ the Crop eggs. The other features contemporary Safeway items- Pepsi in a two-liter plastic bottle and a can of Spam. For Tower, the motivation behind the creation of these paintings was to capture and preserve two eras of everyday life.
In the dining room are an octagonal dining table, an assortment of clocks, and an extensive bottle collection in colors such as cobalt blue, amber, and lime green.
“These bottles held medicines, cocoa, ink, and whiskey,” Tower says. “Those clear bottles on the top row here belonged to Dr. Fowler. His house was on Washington St. After he passed away, my mother bought the house around 1938. We were digging in his yard and found these clear medicine bottles.”
Tower reveals that the house was at one time an antique shop.
“The miscellaneous antique shop was called Century Shop and it had a little bit of everything,” he says. “The clocks and lamps from the antique shops are here. Most of the clocks in the house are about 100 years old.”