This Place Matters: The Littleton-Martin House

Posted on June 11th, 2019 by Downtown Campbell

Continuing with the Historic Preservation Board’s Celebration of featured Campbell Landmark homes is the Littleton-Martin House at 1690 Littleton Place (formerly listed as 1228 Harriet Avenue).

This stunning, two story farmhouse was built around 1905, on a sprawling 26 acre ranch. Mostly hidden from the street now, the house had a foundation of red brick with shiplap exterior siding. The front entry is reminiscent of a fine southern mansion, like something from the movie, “Gone with the Wind”. A large front door is framed by two narrow, divided light windows and a half round window overhead. With a balcony hovering over the open front porch area, the triangular shaped overhang is supported by six grand columns. This part of the home could be called a unique interpretation of Greek Revival Architecture. The Littletons, an English couple, built the house but occupied it for only a few years before returning to England. They left due to their displeasure over the noise from the railroad’s new Vasona Junction that was built in 1907, near Pollard Road and Winchester Blvd. As the crow flies, the junction was about ¾ of a mile from the house. This “wye” saw daily trains from San Jose bound for Palo Alto or Los Gatos and Santa Cruz. At the time, our valley was covered with vast orchards and huge oak trees, and the sounds from the trains could be heard for miles.

Harriet and A.J. Martin purchased the house, where she lived after his death. Harriet Avenue in Campbell is named after her. Mrs. Martin married Arthur Michael Roesch after A.J.’s death, and the house was again sold in 1938 or 1939.

Felix and Mary Bersano purchased it and moved their family from Oakland. The Bersano name may be known to many longtime residents, as Dick, Ed and Don. All are Campbell High School graduates and their children are all graduates of Los Gatos High School. The family also owned and operated the Italian restaurant Villa Felice in Los Gatos for many years.

The Bersanos raised their family and called this ranch ‘home’ until 1953, when they sold it and moved to Los Gatos. Sadly, the next owners were not kind to this historic property and let it deteriorate, before selling it once again.

The house would now have its fifth owners, and fortunately the new owners wanted to give the 100 year old house a restoration overhaul before selling it to its current owner, who has continued with major restoration efforts inside and out. The house survived both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, the orchards are gone, but a fully restored historic home, a carriage house and two of the giant oak trees still grace the property.

Note: Some information for this story came from Casey Jay | Bay Area News Group, September 26, 2011, entitled: Bersano family visits the restored Campbell farmhouse where they lived in the 1940s.

by Susan Blake Historic Preservation Board

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