Stanford University

In 1876, former California Governor Leland Stanford purchased 650 acres of Rancho San Francisquito for a country home and began the development of his famous Palo Alto Stock Farm. He later bought adjoining properties totaling over 8,000 acres.

Leland StanfordLeland and his wife had only one child, Leland Jr., who died in 1884 of typhoid when the family was traveling in Italy. After his death, the Stanfords decided they could no longer do anything for their own child, so they made the children of California their children.

Stanford University was established in Leland Junior’s name and opened its doors in 1891. Famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead (who created New York’s Central Park) designed the physical plan for the university.

Many historically significant buildings occupy the Stanford University campus, including the home at 761 Dolores Street, originally built for assistant professor of education Lewis Madison Terman in 1913.

The third owner of this home was Dr. Charles Witcher, who came to Stanford in 1961 as assistant professor of anesthesia. Witcher spent 29 years on the staff at Stanford, before retiring in 1990. He was one of the first investigators to examine the sound distortion produced by stethoscopes and spent many years investigating trace gas pollution in operating rooms. In 1978 he received the first Anesthesia Residents Teacher of the Year Award.

Dr. Witcher also had an interesting (to me anyhow) hobby – collecting antique farm equipment.

The Stanford University Historical Society has this to say about the Dolores Street property of Dr. Witcher:

“Most distinctive on the property is a long, low barnlike structure with vertical wood siding and a low pitched roof; it parallels Mirada Avenue and is set back about 20 feet from it. The Witchers built the 30- by 86-foot structure in 1978 to hold part of the large collection of antique farm machinery and other equipment that adds a distinctive touch to various parts of this large property.”

In case you have not guessed, I worked with Dr. Witcher on the design of his antique farm machinery building, as well as provided all of the materials. Little did I realize, decades ago, my building would become part of the historical significance of Stanford University!

2 thoughts on “Stanford University

  1. As the oldest son of Charles Whitcher I have inherited the pole barn and its contents.

    I hope to move the barn to San Luis Obispo County where I have a piece of rural property. The reason for putting it there is that I can possibly erect it as an exempt agricultural building. This gets around the need for a formal building permit.

    From what I have learned any structure, even an exempt ag building, needs to meet the structural requirements of the 2013 California Uniform Building Code. Because the barn was built in 1978 it does not meet current codes. I have had various opinions indicating it will be cost ineffective to do the structural engineering necessary to bring it up to code.

    If you have any ideas about this please let me know. If I can’t move the building it will have to be demolished in the next couple of years. I am still consulting with SLO County on this.


    1. Bruce ~

      It is a pleasure hearing from you. I greatly enjoyed working with your father.

      Actually the right engineer could probably design the upgrades fairly reasonably, however the cost to disassemble, move and reassemble would probably be prohibitive (and it will never be the same as it was first time up).

      Several California jurisdictions totally exempt true agricultural buildings from the building permit, structural review and inspection process, San Luis Obispo not being one of them 🙁

      My best recommendation – sell it to someone who will take it down and haul it off (there are people who will buy buildings like yours), then put up a building on your rural property which best meets your needs.

      Please let me know how your process evolves. I’d also love to have some photos of the building, if possible.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *