August 15, 2016


The Roth Building

The future home of the Palo Alto History Museum is the Roth Building, the original Palo Alto Medical Clinic, built in 1932 in the style of Spanish Colonial Revival. It has received historic status in the National Register of Historic Places.

Located at 300 Homer Avenue, just a few blocks from University Avenue in Heritage Park, the city-owned building has unanimous approval from the Architectural Review Board and the Historic Resources Board to rehabilitate this historic treasure. The 22,000 square foot building will provide a permanent home to the City of Palo Alto Archives and the Palo Alto Historical Association.

Among its many benefits, the museum will have community gathering rooms, classrooms, interactive exhibits and a media center. This participatory museum will be a core resource to connect people of all ages and interests.

1932 – Realizing a Vision

Needing for a home for local medical research and practice, Russel V. A. Lee, MD and a group colleagues engaged Birge Clark as the architect to design a clinic. The Roth Building, named for one of the founding physicians, Fritz Roth, MD, grew from their vision. The structure created reflects characteristic Spanish-style elements, including the stucco walls, red-roof tiles and wrought-iron grilles, for which Clark was known.

The photograph above shows Russel V. A. Lee, MD in his office at the Roth Building.

Preserving Roth Building

Central to the renovation of the Roth Building is the preservation of its historic style, art deco features and the Arnautoff murals. Complementing these features will be a new mural, rear enhancements, and outdoor social spaces available to visitors of Heritage Park.

The image above shows some of the art deco features in one of the interior offices.

Historic Arnautoff Murals

Victor Arnautoff, 1896-1979, was a Russian-American artist and professor of art at Stanford University. Following earlier work as an assistant to Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera, Arnautoff settled in the Bay Area. The Roth Building murals, located in the entry area of the building, represent aspects of medical care, the profession to which building was dedicated. Completed in 1932, they are among Arnautoff’s earliest works in this country, and they were quickly followed by the well-known Coit Tower murals.