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Campaign launched to save tiny 1888 "immigrant house"

Original post made on Jul 20, 2012

Local residents once fought to save the home of Mountain View pioneer and businessman Henry Rengstorff, but now there's an effort to preserve a tiny home that provided shelter for the laborers, immigrants and struggling artists of the city's past.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 20, 2012, 11:27 AM

Comments (19)

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Posted by Ellen Wheeler
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I loved reading the history of this house. Thank you! I'd always wondered about it when I used the "new" city parking lot across the street. I hope we can save it.

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Posted by Honor Spitz
a resident of another community
on Jul 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm

One of the arrogances of youth is that it thinks that they have invented the universe. There is little regard or respect for that and those who came before. Even a humble little abode such as this is worthy of recognition, and hopefully there will be a place for it as a reminder of our heritage. At best, there will be photographs and oral histories (such as appeared in Daniel's article) that will go into the archives at the Mtn. View History Center in the Library.

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Posted by sparty
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Part of the hubris of the older generation is celebrating hard work only in the past and for the "right side" of history.

If Renstorff were alive today he'd have Occupy clowns on his lawn every day protesting him for being successful.

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Posted by Ned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm

"Marina's grandparents and her father later lived comfortably on an 8-acre Mountain View orchard later annexed into Los Altos (Marina still lives on part of that property)"

Let me guess... Marina has benefited greatly from Prop 13. How about she pay for moving this house and maintaining. Why should the city and taxpayers have to foot the bill? Or why not give it to her home city of Los Altos?


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Posted by wendylee
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm

The preservation of this history creates benefit for the entire
community.It helps people to be part of something larger than the ego-centric sense of their own accomplishments.
I have known of this home and loved it since growing up in the community in the sixties.
To the person carping about prop 13 which my family campaigned against
being that it was poorly written with eligibility requirements that
were too broadly applied and would destroy schools and services-the owners of orchards in Mountain View and Los Altos fell prey to and watched (as I did) the corrupt re-zoning of their farms before that time that produced insurmountable tax burdens and gutted these beautiful orchards.
I watched as these orchards were torn out -I have now lived long enough not to be appalled by the hubris our deliberate ignorance affords us.
Honoring these hard working people is the least we can do for them and
a great service to our community as a reminder that even the builder of the fanciest boat shares the ocean with the rest of us.

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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jul 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Ok, fine, but who is going to pay for upkeep and maintenance of this shack? The taxpayers? How much will that divert from schools?

Then again, if you want to make it your personal project and finance it 100% yourself, then by all means have at it!

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Posted by wendylee
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm

OK.Fine too.I'll continue to spend my vacation and tourist dollars
in places that have and honor their communities with a little historical perspective and value their heritage.Having grown up in Silicon Valley and watched it consume the absolute beauty of the Santa Clara Valley I find the latest whizzbang to be a bit of a yawner- something I have no need to travel to or see.
However the community might benefit greatly from a little balance-
my tax dollars in Silicon Valley over the years went to a lot of sweetheart deals for businesses that had no sense of community and
never had to stick around and live with the impact of what enriched them at our expense, and my tax dollars also went to businesses and projects that I really like-I like progress I don't mind
change when it's thoughtful -let's now progress again and become thoughtful-schools are extremely important,too important to become test sites disconnected from their cultural identity.
Besides in the right location this little house might be able to be a little historical info center guiding people to various things of interest in the community.

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Posted by Sparty
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Guess the time-- Rengstorff, Mowry, Ralston...all these families were participating in what was the latest whizbang at the machines, new techniques...if not for the old families and their whiz bang ideas the valley of heart's delight would not exist.

if not for their whiz bang we wouldn't have silicon valley. if not for the silicon valley whiz bang we would have the VC boys on sand hill.

if not for the VC boys on san hill, we'd have a lot of people without seems like no big deal--things like easy to get insulin.

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Posted by wendylee
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I get it Sparty.My father WAS a rocket scientist!Right here!Probably
where Google sits now(they followed the energy)nobody loved a whizzbang
more than he did and nobody got more of a kick out of watching him
play than I did as a kid growing up.
But part of his brilliance was understanding the balance.....
and appreciating those that came before him.
How about we save the house-and then think about our own unique whizzbang museum!
Let's celebrate this beautiful little house as part of the fascinating picture you have painted for us.

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Posted by Evan
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jul 22, 2012 at 7:11 am

The little house, or shack rather, is a dump and an eyesore. It has absolutely no architectural value. Even worse are all the upgrades to include what looks like an cheap Home Depot front door. It will hardly be in the running to attract tourist dollars.

And do we know if the many previous tenants held any shocking social views? That type of argument has already killed putting in a museum at the site of the old Shockley lab on San Antonio.

What's next? We make a move to put one of the old run down apartment buildings full of immigrants on CA Ave on the historical register?

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Posted by wendyleela
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Many of the people that came to that little house over the last 124 years,had the aspiration to feed the world with their talents for farming and cooking.Their quarters were modest as their main concern was the land and what it could produce.
I think we are still so young as a country,and California is even younger-that it is difficult to take the steps to visualize, define and preserve our living history.Here,especially hard, with the reputation Silicon Valley enjoys as the pioneers of the future.
As one of the posters expressed though,our history here has always been forward thinking- the desire to feed the world was then, as forward thinking as the desire to reach the world is now and with that in mind what a remarkable accomplishment if we preserve this living history and manage to bridge those aspirations.
While we all have a different view of beauty, the most common assessment of value is still linked with rarity.
The age and modesty of this little house makes it rare and precious indeed.

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Posted by sparty
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 22, 2012 at 11:09 pm

ah yes. 1888, the versailles of Mt View

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Posted by Chick-fil-haaay!!!
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Mow it down and build a Chick-fil-a.

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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Worked on Villa St near the tiny little farm worker house, 1888 what a time, the valley was know for food production. We had people following the harvest, living in tiny little shacks working, they worked hard. They saved, they worked to save so they can buy land or a decent sized home. Some went on to start businesses or just spend their days working, saving money and being part of the community. The history of Mountain View is full of these wonderful people that came here, the chose our little town over many, in come cases streets were named after them. Save this house to show our past so we might understand what it was like to have nothing, work and work hard to get something.

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Posted by Rise Krag
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2012 at 10:58 pm

This house speaks of the history of the Peninsula that was forged by hard work. The immigrant's labor and sacrifice has helped forge the thriving community that we live in today. The small quarters of this early home also teach us that it is possible to living closely and share precious space and resources.

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Posted by Rhodessa Jones
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2012 at 9:20 am

I live in SF's Noe Valley- a community of beautiful Victorians. I so appreciate the restoration and upkeep of our past architectural efforts! So much gets lost in our modern" throw away" culture. Please save this lovely little house. I say move it and preserve it!

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Posted by Chere
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I found this house for rent in the 1970's for $75.00. My brother and his wife lived there, my sister and a friend, my friend Sue and her husband and later I lived there until the owner died and the bank owned it and raised the rent to $125.00 a month. I tiled the shower. My sister planted a pine tree that was at least 50 feet tall last time I looked but now appears to have been cut down. My sister is now deceased and this house means a lot to me. The painting Marina has of the house was painted by my sister when the house was still cute and white before the bank spray painted it dark brown and killed all my flowers I planted! I am glad you saved it. Thanks!!!!

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Posted by Tina
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 27, 2013 at 7:17 pm

You can find the model of the Immigrant House that was in the parade today outside the Mtn. View General Store on Dana St. across from the coffee shop. The store supports local artists and welcomes them to sell on consignment. It's a true local business. Please stop by and show your support.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Cuernavaca

on Jun 4, 2017 at 8:28 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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