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Jerry Steach

Livable Mountain View Announces Success in Campaign to Assign Historic Designation to Weilheimer House, Former Air Base Laundry

By | City Planning, Historic Buildings, Livability | No Comments

California State Historical Resources Commission Deems Downtown Mountain View Buildings Eligible for Historic Register

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — July 23, 2019 — Livable Mountain View, a volunteer community group dedicated to the sustained livability of Mountain View, today announced the successful completion of its
campaign to assign historical designation to two historic buildings in the city’s downtown.  The California State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) determined the Weilheimer House (presently home to Chez TJ restaurant) and the former Air Base Laundry building (now the site of the Tied House Cafe and Brewery) are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, following Livable Mountain View’s formal nomination of each building for historic designation.  By virtue of the SHRC determining the buildings’ eligibility, both the Weilheimer House and former Air Base Laundry building, located adjacent one another in Mountain View’s historic downtown business district, are now listed on the California Register of Historical Resources.

Appointed by the Governor of California, the SHRC is a nine-member state review board responsible for identifying, registering and preserving California’s cultural heritage. Its members include experts in history, prehistoric archaeology, architectural history, and restoration architecture. During its public hearing in Sacramento earlier this year, the SHRC reviewed Livable Mountain View’s nominations, which included extensive written documentation and visual materials supporting the historical and architectural significance of the Weilheimer House and former Air Base Laundry. The commission then voted 7-0 — two commissioners were absent — to support the buildings’ eligibility and later rendered formal decisions on both.

The SHRC hearing was video-recorded and is available to view online at:

(The Weilheimer House and Air Base Laundry segment begins at the 55-minute, 30-second point.)

“Working toward and achieving eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places like this serves as a powerful example of what a concerned, involved community can accomplish,” said Carole Whitacre of Livable Mountain View’s Steering Committee “It’s a wonderful outcome for the residents of Mountain View, its historic downtown and all those who value preserving the city’s rich heritage and historic treasures.”

The Weilheimer House was built in 1894 by Julius Weilheimer, son of Seligman Weilheimer, a German-Jewish immigrant who in 1853, along with his brother, settled in what then was known as Mountain View Station. The Weilheimers opened a general store, followed by many other family businesses that included a hotel, livery, and additional general stores. Julius Weilheimer was born in Mountain View in 1860 and eventually ran many of the family businesses, which by then were located on and around the city’s main downtown commercial street, Castro Street. He served as trustee, mayor – he held city council meetings in the Weilheimer House – and vice-president of the local bank, and led the effort to rebuild Mountain View’s downtown after much of it was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.

The Weilheimer House’s next resident was five-term U.S. Congressman Arthur Free, who was responsible for Moffett Field (later Moffett Field/Ames Research) coming to Mountain View in 1930, when cities up and down California were competing for this project.

Air Base Laundry Announcement
in the Register-Leader, 1931

Built in 1931, the Air Base Laundry largely served the base and thus was designed to match the thirty Spanish Revival buildings still located at Moffett Field, all of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. Its façade remains unchanged as it retains its stucco finish, red roof, original upper story windows and corbels below the roofline. Although updated since 1931, the materials and scale of the doors and windows are consistent with that of the original building. By history, function and design, the Air Base Laundry building is Downtown Mountain View’s link to the first generation of air and space technology — events that helped to lay the foundation for today’s Silicon Valley.

Air Base Laundry / Tied House Today

About Livable Mountain View Livable Mountain View is an all-volunteer group of residents with the aim of making Mountain View the most livable city in California. The group supports smart growth throughout Mountain View and advocates for development that shows respect to the city’s rich heritage, irreplaceable historic structures and vibrant downtown. For more information, go to or email to

Livable Mountain View media contact:
Jerry Steach
M: 415.222.9996

For additional information and a Q&A on the historic eligibility of these buildings see: Weilheimer / Chez TJ and Air Base Laundry / Tied House Preserved – Q&A and Castro Street: Where It Came From, Why It Should Be Preserved

Ten Reasons to Save the Weilheimer House and Tied House Building

By | City Planning, Historic Buildings, Livability, Walk Appeal | One Comment

<strong>We are losing our history, piece by piece. There’s not much left, but together we can stop further losses.  </strong><strong>Please read these ten reasons to save our historic resources — and join us!</strong>

#1 We must preserve our valuable urban/historic downtown. Once you tear down or move historic structures like the Weilheimer House and Tied House building, they can NEVER be replaced. Mountain View risks eroding one of the most important reasons so many people have moved and continue to visit here: a vibrant, eclectic and historic downtown. Saving these historic properties is still possible, however. Mountain View’s city council had the opportunity to protect them in June when a developer made a proposal. It did not. We need to work together so they’re preserved and remain in place, while we revitalize the downtown.

#2 There are currently 78 proposed developments in Mountain View — and a full 5 of them are in downtown alone. Do you want developers to design your downtown? No, you want to have a voice in what happens to your town.

#3 Do you want to lose your distinctive small businesses that serve you to make room for more office buildings. These projects are ruining the downtown and create more DEAD ZONES. There are other suitable places for such development other than where historic buildings are located.

#4. Why should large businesses and their developers take away your livable city center? You can’t get a cup of coffee in their lobbies or sit in their concrete gardens. We don’t have to choose, there are plenty of locations in Mountain View to build office space. In fact, the city itself owns plenty of land.

#5 The downtown center and surrounding blocks should be reserved for its citizens and visitors, not corporate office buildings, which don’t allow public use.

#6 In order to keep our small businesses thriving, it is critical to keep our historical, walkable downtown distinctly different from the modern San Antonio development. Our historical buildings are what help make our downtown distinctive, attractive and the reason so many residents of Mountain View and other communities visit our downtown.

#7 Part of Castro Street is overflowing with activity. Now is the time to enable spillover foot traffic from Castro Street onto these side-street offerings. Villa Street is one such side street. Moving or removing the Weilheimer House and Tied House building would inhibit that opportunity to capitalize on spillover foot traffic.

#8 When the Castro/Moffett automobile crossing is closed, Villa Street will certainly become one of the more active gateways to our downtown. The “Front Door” to downtown Mountain View should be unique and inviting, and feature attractive, historic properties in place — not another office building.

#9 We don’t have to continue building without a sensible plan. It’s time to stop the destruction of our heritage buildings and assess that we as a community want our downtown to provide for us.

#10 What about the owners? Cities face this question all the time. There are several options if the owners want to sell or lease their properties: The city can buy them; it can offer incentives given the historic nature of the properties or it can offer the owners/developer a transfer of rights, for example, to a property more suitable for an office building. The city could also say “no.” There are many comparable examples and best practices from other cities that can be followed if the owners want to sell or lease their properties.