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.

This Place Matters: Louis and Edward Genasci House

Posted on November 1st, 2019 by sheldon

The seventh featured Landmark home is the Louis and Edward Genasci House at 207 N. Central Ave. It is located in one of the earliest sections of the original Benjamin Campbell family land holdings.

Likely built around 1900, it is a one-story rural California Farmhouse style cottage with some Queen Anne and Greek Revival accents that many home builders added. The steeply pitched roof and wide shiplap siding showcase the boxed cornices, and long double hung sash windows with molded cross pieces. In the 1930’s, the previously open front porch was enclosed to make a sun porch. The original two-story wood frame, two door barn still sits at the back of this property and can be seen from the street.

Louis Genasci Sr. immigrated to the United States from Switzerland in 1885. In 1893, he married his wife Albina at the Mission San Luis Obispo, according to a story in the San Jose Mercury Herald. The Genasci family arrived in Campbell in 1911, and opened a thriving grocery and general merchandise store in the new downtown business district, on Campbell Ave. Their sons, Ed and Louis Jr. were the delivery boys while Louis Sr. and Albina ran the store. The family became well known for their many civic contributions to the community.

The town was very concerned about not having any fire protection after two big homes burned down between 1896 and 1902. In June of 1913, the town fathers including Louis Genasci Sr. decided to establish a volunteer fire department. However, the volunteers immediately faced significant challenges. Thirteen hydrants were installed on a few of the new downtown streets but the water pressure was inconsistent. Funding for equipment such as hoses, hooks and ladders, buckets and a hand pulled chemical “fire engine” were not available. The volunteers bought their own badges for about $1.00.

Ed Genasci, who later became chief of the volunteers, was designated coupler of the hose company when the new fire department started. According to Jeanette Watson’s book, Campbell the Orchard City, the volunteers were called to fires by the ringing of the church bells in those early days. This proved to be problem on Sundays, because folks were also called to worship with ringing of the church bells. In 1914, a fire bell was purchased from the city of San Jose for $40.

After a disastrous fire took out many of the businesses on Campbell Avenue at First Street in October of 1917, voters passed a resolution to create a formal fire district, but funding was still hard to come by. It was still a volunteer fire department and they would raise funds by washing down buildings as part of their fire drills and the owners gave them donations.

According to local reports, in 1935, Louis Genasci Sr. fell off his bicycle into a mud hole on his way to a fire at 2 a.m. on a rainy morning. The volunteer fire department had recently become “bicyclized” so they could get to the fires more quickly and if needed, cut through the...Read More

As of morning on Sunday, October 27, 2019, there has been no announcement of any planned PG&E power shut offs for Downtown Campbell. Barring any unforeseen changes, we will be fully powered for our Creepy Crawly Halloween festivities today from 4pm to 7pm.

You can lookup planned shutoffs by address online using the PG&E Potential PSPS Address Lookup Tool.

More Info

Dear friends, it is that day again upon which I must warn you of strange happenings that befall Downtown Campbell once a year on the Friday before Halloween. Do not worry about what I am about to say.

If you are in Downtown Campbell tonight having dinner on the sidewalk and you see a horde of zombies lurching in your direction, do not panic. They're only here for the appetizers. Stay calm and eat on.

If you've already eaten all of the appetizers, you'll need to run but there is still no reason for alarm. Simply remember this sage old advice:

If you're being chased by zombies, trip someone slower than you.

Pages