Structure Type: built works - dwellings - housing - housing for the elderly

Designers: BNBuilders, Incorporated (firm); Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers (firm); Bradley Bastian (building contractor); John Graham Jr. (architect); Jeffrey Nielsen (building contractor); Lionel Henry Pries (architect)

Dates: constructed 1961-1964

11 stories

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850 Webster Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301

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Building History

In 1960-1961, Dr. Russel V. Lee (1895-1982), Medical Director of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, served as the driving force to establish Channing House as an independent, not-for-profit life care retirement community in Palo Alto, CA. Lee broke ground for the $7.5 million retiree complex in 12/1961, and, following a long construction process marred by strikes and a civic tax dispute, opening occurred on 01/27/1964. At the time it opened, Channing House contained 320 apartments. Seattle-based architecture firm, John Graham and Company, designed this retirement facility; the notable architecture professor, Lionel Pries (1897-1968) following his dismissal from the University of Washington (UW), worked for the John Graham firm at the time, and according to architectural historian, Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, worked as a member on the Channing House design team. (See Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, Lionel H. Pries, Architect, Artist, Educator, [Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007], p. 378.)

Building Notes

The building's large, 11-story scale contrasted greatly to its original environs which consisted mostly of 2-story, single-family houses. It occupied the site of the first Palo Alto High School. In 05/2017, the facility contained 191 living units, 27 assisted-living beds (in 24 rooms) and 26 skilled-nursing beds.

Between 1964 and 07/01/1975, Channing House housed 97 male and 365 female residents; of these, 130 women and 46 men died there during that time span.

Tel: 650.327.0950 (2018)


Planning occurred in 2006 for a $20.5 million 32,185-square-foot Health Care Building addition to Channing House which was envisioned to accommodate 27 skilled nursing living units, 26 assisted living units, multipurpose dining/activity spaces, and a 16,437-square-foot parking garage. As built, the building had three stories and 49,000 square feet, with the 27 skilled nursing units occupying the first floor and the 26 assisted units on the second. The parking garage was located in the basement. Seattle-based BN Builders served as the Building Contractor.

PCAD id: 18150