This Place Matters

The Historic Preservation Board is doing a series of short stories called “This Place Matters”. Every month, they will highlight a different Campbell Landmark home. Click on the titles below to learn about the history of each house.

This months featured house with dark blue background.

The Gilman House

The front door view of the Gilman House.

"Past Featured Houses" in text with blue background.
  1. The First J.C. Ainsley House
  2. Louis & Edward Genasci House
  3. James Henry Campbell House
  4. J.C. Ainsley House

This Place Matters #8

By Susan Blake, Historic Preservation Board

JC Ainsley house front view.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 7.5 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.

Vintage red Ainsley's Fruit label with pictures of fruit. 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 through the orchards.

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.

  1. E.R. Kennedy House
  2. Young-Satorette House
  3. Littleton-Martin House
  4. Galindo-Queraz-Leigh House

This Place Matters #4

By Susan Blake, Historic Preservation Board

ER KennedyAugust's featured Landmark home is the E. R. Kennedy House at 61 Catalpa Lane. This part of Campbell is historically referred to as the Kennedy Tract and later the Four “Cs” Tract that includes Cherry, Catalpa, El Caminito and California Avenues west of Winchester Blvd. At the turn of the century, it was ranch land owned by Erle Russell and Bessie Kennedy.

This outstanding example of Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture was built in 1930, for Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy who fell in love with the style while on a visit to southern California. It features white washed stucco siding with red-tiled hipped roofs, a terra cotta chimney and a flagstone entry. The original home had three bedrooms upstairs and a formal living room, dining room, breakfast nook, kitchen and library downstairs, with one bathroom on each floor. In the 1960’s a family room/apartment was added on north side

Inside, the doors, door frames, and trim along with wall inset drawers and storage, are all solid mahogany. The main entry features a mahogany parquet floor. Numerous old growth trees can be seen on the property, including a huge Buckeye in the back yard and a grove of five Redwoods in the front yard. 

The Kennedys had this house built to replace their old ranch house on Winchester Road after deciding to start subdividing their land. Starting with the development of Cherry Lane, many of the Kennedy Tract homes were built from 1941 through 1949. Prior to development, El Caminto was part of Kennedy Avenue, so named for the family. 

Mr. Kennedy was a local farmer and realtor and also president of the Campbell Water Company from 1914 to 1918. In the early days of the company, he was a bill collector who went door to door, carrying a leather pouch with change, to collect water payments from households. In 1908, for private households with five or less family members, the monthly rate was $1. Each additional person cost 15 cents.

Bessie Kennedy was an energetic and determined member of our city’s Country Woman’s Club, starting in 1912. She was a driving force and instrumental in getting the club’s goal of a real library built in our downtown. This historic library building was completed in 1923, and still stands at the southwest corner of First Street and East Campbell Avenue.

The Kennedys later owned and operated the Kennedy Water Company which served customers west of Winchester Boulevard to Hazel Ave. Erle and Bessie owned and operated their water company until 1946, when they sold it to the San Jose Water Company, another family-owned water supplier.

In 1960, the E.R. Kennedy House was purchased by Courtland Watson and Jeanette Gomes Watson. Jeanette Watson became the first female council member and first female mayor (1988) in the City of Campbell. She lived there until 2006.

The current owner purchased the home in 2006, and is raising two children. One of whom, now a high school Junior, has extensive knowledge on the history of the house and is happy to share when asked. The owner has done some extensive restoration, seismic retrofitting and needed upgrades to the home. The family loves this house and has no plans to sell it at any time soon.