This Place Matters: The Gilman House

Posted on January 6th, 2020 by susanblake

The January featured Landmark is the Gilman House located at 151 N. First Street. and Grant Avenue.. Built in 1900, it has watched over the transformation of our downtown from a rural, agricultural area with orchards and dirt roads when horse and buggies passed by, to today’s Civic Center with City Hall just across the street.

The house was the original home of an early settler, Mrs. Maude Gilman. Mrs. Gilman is reported to have been an active member of the Campbell Methodist Episcopal Church. That church was located at the northwest corner of Campbell Avenue and North First Street, currently a Starbucks, and stood at that location until 1955.

This single story, Colonial Revival Cottage home is unique with its wide corner entry, wooden porch and many cantilevered windows. The windows allow for more light and opened up the views on all sides of the house. It also features a hip roof with dormer gable above the front entrance and a combination of narrow ship lap siding below with redwood shingles above. Leaded and Stained glass windows adorn many of the front three façades.

It is a fine example of adaptive re-use as the current owner has done extensive restoration while turning it into his business. When he purchased the house, most of the doors and door frames along with decorative molding had been removed. Fortunately, he found them stacked and preserved in the basement, and he was then able to figure out the puzzle and have them reinstalled.

In talking with the owner, he shared out an interesting story about the home. About ten years ago, shortly after he had purchased it and moved in, an elderly lady came to the front door and knocked. She asked if she could come in for a few minutes, just to look around.

Welcoming her in, she said that she had lived here as a child. She said that she was now 86, but remembered how she loved to sit by the big window in the dining room (on Grant) and watch the buggies go by on Sundays on their way to church. Back then the ‘side’ streets were dirt, but the town sprayed them with oil starting on the main road (Campbell Avenue) to help keep the dust down. She also said that the house was a hangout for all the local kids after school.

Before she left, she told him that the house had spirits. She made her way back out to the front door, but paused, laughing. She said she was just a silly old woman and paused again. Turning back briefly, she told him, “Oh, they’re still here.” Unfortunately, the owner did not catch her name.

Want to learn more about Campbell’s historic structures? There’s a free app for that. Search for: Historic Campbell, available for Android or Apple.

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Susan Blake, Campbell Historic Preservation Board.

Check out the archives for This Place Matters for more stories about Campbell's historic homes.

Evelyn and her Vintage Ties at Christmas in Campbell

Posted on December 21st, 2019 by sheldon

Evelyn and her Vintage Ties and Downtown Campbell would like to wish you a holly jolly Christmas. I hope some of you managed to catch them. Wow! They sounded fabulous at our Christmas in Campbell street music yesterday!

12 Last Minute Gift Ideas from Downtown Campbell

Posted on December 19th, 2019 by DCBA

Ok, we know you're out there. Those of you who don't get around to doing holiday shopping until you're staring at a deadline. Come visit us in Downtown Campbell. We've got you covered with a wide variety of gift options that you can come in and pick out without fighting crazy mobs of shoppers and get back in time to binge watch your latest obsession on Netflix. You're welcome.

This Place Matters: The First Ainsley House

Posted on December 11th, 2019 by susanblake

This month’s featured landmark home is the first J. C. Ainsley House at 84 North Third St. The Queen Anne cottage style house is estimated to have been built in 1874, on a 7 ½ acre ranch. It originally stood on the northeast corner of East Campbell Ave. and Winchester (Road) Blvd. Its story is another example how homes were saved rather than demolished by moving them to new locations as the township grew.

Yet another house built by George Whitney, it shows his talent for creating unique details in the Queen Anne Style. The wide shiplap siding made of clear heart redwood, was likely sourced in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Ornately carved brackets support the eaves, with cut scallop shaped shingles and decorative work underneath. The one story house with no basement and an unfinished attic, had a half story added in 1983. The addition maintains the exterior architectural integrity of the Queen Anne style.

When John Colpitts Ainsley first arrived in Campbell in 1887, he purchased this house and ranch lands. Originally from England, he came to the United States in 1884 to seek his fortune in America. While still a bachelor, Mr. Ainsley began to experiment with canning fruit on a stove in his backyard sheds. It was here that J.C. figured out how to keep our locally grown peaches, pears, apricots and prunes from spoiling, while maintaining their flavor and color. His canning methods allowed the fruits to be shipped back to eager buyers in England who were looking for quality above and beyond what they could get locally. J.C. Ainsley is credited with inventing canned fruit salad.

In 1891, his “Washboiler Cannery” produced a thousand cases of fruit. (See Jeanette Watson Campbell the Orchard City). Mr. Ainsley went on to become a highly successful business man, building the J.C. Ainsley Packing Company, while providing good employment for many of the town’s residents. He married a local young lady, Alcinda Shelly, on May 1, 1894 and they had two children.

In 1921, the Campbell Union School District purchased the house and property and built the Campbell Union Grammar School, now the Heritage Village Office Complex. The district moved the house to the rear of the property to make way for the new school building, where it was rented to the first school principal for $25 a month. At one point the house was converted to a Manual Arts shop for students when the principal’s wife decided their growing family needed more room.

During the Great Depression, the house was put up for sale, and in 1930, it was sold to the only bidder, the school custodian and volunteer fireman, Antone Ferro. Mr. Ferro bought the house for $150. In 1933, he moved the house once again, by using horses, a capstan and a system of 12 foot long wooden skids with short wooden rollers rather than a wheeled vehicle, to its current location on North Third St. This method of house moving was common in Campbell because it allowed the structures to be maneuvered...Read More

We were hoping to have better news, but the weather report is looking very unfavorable for the Carol of Lights on Saturday, December 7th. This event has been held in rain before, but the weather forecasts are predicting a downpour with high winds.

That's more than we can do for safety reasons. We're very disappointed that we have to cancel, but it's in the best interest of safety for everyone involved from the families who'd be coming to our many volunteers and hired vendors who'd be working in potentially dangerous conditions.

Thank you all for understanding and please remember that we've still got our Santa hats on for Christmas in Campbell street music on the remaining Friday and Saturday nights until Christmas that aren't rain soaked.

Also, there are other holiday events taking place indoors that were scheduled to take place alongside the Carol of Lights. Those are still happening.

View the Events Calendar

It's quiet just about everywhere today, but nowhere does it feel more quiet than in places that are public squares that are rarely lacking in bustle. You can tell that a place is truly a public square when it feels entirely wrong when it's at rest and it's very rare to find Downtown Campbell so empty and devoid of emotion. It's just a little too quiet without the personalities that make a place a place. The women (mostly) and men who create the small town magic in a place like Downtown Campbell are here so much that you can think of them as characters on stage at Disneyland playing a version of themselves in their own little booths. They play the version of themselves that provides you with a "third place". They're characters who know your tastes and make you look great. Sometimes they're even play that face you seek out when you need a little support or encouragement.

Most of the time when you shop, your time and money is converted into a paper receipt or a line item on a billing statement that you get at the end of the month. When you shop or play in a place like Downtown Campbell, the transaction isn't so simple. Every time you come here to buy a cup of coffee, pick up a gift, or even just to sit down for a while on a park bench, you're part of the show. You cast votes with your dollars and feet that a place like Downtown Campbell is a public square where everyone can come be whatever version of themselves they feel like playing that day. Perhaps more than ever, we need our public squares where people are not reduced to usernames and selfies.

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and we're thankful for all of you who are a part of our community. Some of you have even moved on and still keep in touch because the time you spent here meant something to you. We cherish being that kind of place.

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