AKA: Stanford University, President's House, Stanford, CA; President Herbert Hoover Residence, Stanford, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Clark and Clark, Architects (firm); Arthur Bridgman Clark (architect/artist); Birge Malcolm Clark (architect)

Dates: constructed 1919-1920

3 stories

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623 Mirada Avenue
Stanford, CA 94305-8473

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Lou Henry Hoover (1874–1944), wife of President Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), worked with A.B. Clark to design this unusually spartan residence. The Hoovers did not like affectation, and sought a residence that was practical and modern. Herbert knew of the frequent wildfires in the hills around Stanford, and demanded that the house be fireproof. (This concern eliminated the use of shake roofs and wood siding, and militated for stucco walls, hollow tile construction and flat roofs.) The house reflected the stylistic preferences primarily of Lou. It was a blend of various "primitive" influences, ranging from North African, Native American, Spanish Provincial and Early Californian. The San Diego work of Irving J. Gill (1870-1936) resonates here, but it is not clear that Lou knew of his work. It does not seem to reflect the radical International Style work of Le Corbusier (1887-1965) or others in Europe. Assisting in Clark's office were his son, Birge Clark (1894-1989), who would go on to become the most prominent architect in Palo Alto, CA, and Charles T. Davis (born c. 1884 in CA), another draftsman. Lou Henry and Herbert Hoover lived in this dwelling only occasionally while he served as head of the US Food Administration during World War I, as a Belgian relief worker after the war, and as Secretary of Commerce from 1920-1928. The house became the center of national attention during his two presidential campaigns in 1928 and 1932, when he waited for election returns here. His Presidency marred by the Depression for which he was blamed, Herbert and Lou left Washington, DC, and resided here quietly until her death in 1944. He lived another 20 years, but decided to lodge at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, NY. After his death, the President deeded the house to his alma mater, Stanford, which subsequently decided that it should became the residence of the University's President. It continues in that role to this day.

The Hoovers initially commissioned a house design from the San Francisco architect, Louis Christian Mullgardt (1866-1942), who was contemporaneously designing, "The Knoll," a grand hilltop residence intended to house the university president. Mullgardt proudly broadcast his commission for the large Hoover House, in the waning months of World War I. The Hoovers felt his publicity indiscrete, and fired him. They then looked within the tight-knit Stanford community of that time and selected Stanford Art Professor Arthur Bridgeman Clark (1866-1948) to design their house; Clark had produced designs for many other professor's houses on Stanford's Campus and in Palo Alto, CA.

In 2008, solar panels were installed on the roof of Hoover House.

California Historical Landmark: 913

National Register of Historic Places (January 30, 1978): 78000786 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 10601