August 15, 2016

Museum

The future home of the Palo Alto History Museum is the historic Roth Building, the original Palo Alto Medical Clinic designed by local architect Birge Clark and built in 1932 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, we plan to restore this architectural treasure to create the history museum this community deserves.

Creating a new, long-needed community resource, we are excited to develop a world-class museum which will provide much to our community, including:

  • A free cultural destination in the heart of historic Palo Alto, with innovative exhibitions, programs and resources to tell the story of our community, and our legacy of innovation and far-reaching impact.
  • A teaching location and resource for students and teachers on state and local history. Classroom tours will enrich the curriculum for students from Palo Alto, Stanford and East Palo Alto, whether public, private or home-schooled.
  • Preservation of a community treasure, the Roth Building. Now on the National Register and designed by Birge Clark (brother of PAMF founder/pediatrician, Esther Clark), we will also preserve the murals by Victor Arnautoff, best known for his work at Coit Tower.
  • A climate-controlled repository for artifacts and documents currently scattered throughout our community, preserving our unique local history. We will create a media center and be the permanent home for the City archives.
  • The Museum will be a unique venue for public and private events and a large meeting room will be available for use by the community.

Raising Funds to Create the Palo Alto History Museum

Located at 300 Homer Avenue, just a few blocks from University Avenue in Heritage Park, our plans for this city-owned building have received unanimous approval from the Architectural Review Board and the Historic Resources Board. After a $9.2 million renovation supported by years of careful planning and more than $1.2 in additional expenses, the 22,000 square foot building will become a participatory museum and a core resource to connect people of all ages and interests.

We are so close to breaking ground. Help support the creation of this community gathering place and education center – donate today!

russelleemdinrothbuilding

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.

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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.

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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.