Old Zanger House on the market

October 16, 2014 Posted by Franklin Maggi

Old Zanger House

Old Zanger House

During the late 1990s, Sacred Heart Community Service bought the property at the northwest corner of South First Street (1381 S. 1st St.)  and Alma Avenue in San Jose to build their new Community Service Center. The site was occupied by a large old house owned by Joe Zanger that was at that time a San Jose City Landmark. Joe Zanger of Casa de Fruta near Gilroy on Pacheco Pass, was a descendant of the Bisceglia family, a family that had built the Bisceglia Cannery that was to become Sun Garden Packing. The family also created Casa de Fruta.

Glory Anne Laffey prepared a historical evaluation of the house which identified an 1889 date that the San Jose Herald noted real estate manager/ insurance and load broker/notary/ James B. Capp was “placing” this house on the site. The site at that time consisted of four vacant lots on South First Street at what was then called Almaden Road.

To save the house, a Santa Clara resident by the name Marine stepped in and negotiated a deal with Zanger to move the house to Santa Clara.  Although the house had to be cut into four parts, today, that house, fully renovated, sits in full grandeur on its target site at 766 Madison Street…. Santa Clara’s gain, San Jose’s loss.

The house is currently on the market for $1,640,000, and has a Mills Act contract with the City of Santa Clara to reduce the property taxes and ensure its long term maintenance.

The unsolved story is about the origins of this house… Glory Anne and I disagreed on this, as she found no documentation that the house was built prior to 1889. The design of the house has Eastlake characteristics of that period, but I believe the core is a circa 1870 house of prominence. There was a plethora of circumstantial evidence that pointed to this being the James Lick Homestead that had been located further into the Lick Tract, and built in 1869. A deed had referenced a house in the subdivision that needed to be removed for the street alignments, and records show that Lick had a large house on that site. The only available pre-1889 photo (at history San Jose) showed only what looked to be a barn on the Homestead.

This is a research project for future historians. Today, it is great to see the house, and wish I had the money to buy it.


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