If you drive through the Edelen, Almond Grove, Fairview Plaza, Glenridge and other older and historic Los Gatos neighborhoods, you may have wondered how far back in time these architecturally interesting properties go. What are the oldest residences in town, or close by?
Los Gatos Historic Homes
Are there Adobes?
In the Santa Clara Valley, there are a handful of old adobe homes here and there, such as the Peralta Adobe in downtown San Jose (built in 1797), and the Santa Clara Women’s Club Adobe (built in 1790), and many more. I can’t say for certain if there are any remaining 18th-19th century adobe homes in Los Gatos. If they exist the most probable properties are around the Los Gatos Saratoga border, are private, occupied homes, and have extensive additions and modifications.
Victorian Era: Gold Rush to Gem of the Foothills
When discussing historic homes in the Bay Area, the Victorian undoubtedly comes to mind. And Los Gatos has plenty! A search of county real estate records for Los Gatos homes (in town, 95030 & 95032 plus the mountains, 95033) spanning the era from 1837-1901 revealed hundreds of properties identified as Victorian construction. It displayed about about 375 in 95030, 120 in 95032, and also about 140 in 95033.
Property records for the Town indicate that there are a few homes dating as far back as the 1840s or 1850s, a number more from the 1870s, and then a big spike in growth beginning in the 1880s, around the time of the Town’s incorporation. It’s the late-Victorians that make up most of Los Gatos’ Historic Districts, including the Town’s oldest residential subdivision, with the famous Queen Anns, Arts and Crafts, and more.
County records indicate a majority of the older homes were built in the year 1900. That figure is so high it caused me to ponder whether that’s just an easy way of saying “really old” rather than the precise year of construction completion. My theory was recently proven correct: the Los Gatos home I have listed for sale right now (39 Reservoir Rd) was built between 1876 and 1888, but the county had it down as 1900! We had the county record corrected, but who knows how many more are mislabeled.
A closer look at some of these homes reveals that many have been extensively remodeled and don’t at all resemble the original style. I’ve noticed the properties dating from 1850 often look more like houses from 2005! With 100+ years of ownership it’s expected there will have been updates, but not all are welcome to the historic home buyer.
Want something authentically historic and still looking the part? There are plenty, but you’ll have better luck finding one that doesn’t date from quite so early. For historic, Victorian charm, I generally recommend searching for homes from the late 1870 at the earliest. I have seen many beautiful, tastefully and historically minded updated homes from this era and later in town, and the occasional fixer-upper with original charm.
For all Los Gatos areas combined there were at least 77 properties that pre-date 1900, according to county records, and likely many more. That’s a good handful for the lover of historic homes to admire!
20th Century Homes
After the Victorian period the Town continued to grow at an increasing rate. Records indicate there are more than 500 post-Victorian properties that are over 100 years old (1902-1921) across the whole town! Going decade by decade, there were approximately 550 in the 1920s, 550 more in the 1930s, 925 in the 1940s, and over 2,340 in the 1950s!
While not everyone would consider a 1950s suburban ranch a historic home, a good example could certainly fit the category. It can come to a surprise to many people that a home as young as 50 years old could be designated historic. That means that as of this writing a home from 1971 could be (but almost never is) considered historic!
But I won’t go on about these younger historic homes in this article. Suffice it to say that whether you’re looking for early California history, centenarian charm, or a mid-century marvel, you can find it in this town!
If you enjoy seeing lovely older homes, especially Victorians, be sure to visit Los Gatos and drive through the historic districts and streets near downtown! If you are thinking of selling your historic or older home in Los Gatos or nearby, or if you’re in the market for one we would love to hear from you! Below are a few photos of some of our earliest homes – I to urge you to have a look in person 🙂
Related: How old are homes in Los Gatos?