No others structure or landmark represents the quaint, neighborhood community of Danville better than the Oak Tree. The Danville Oak Tree has become a symbol of the community and, in many cases, a central point of meeting and communication in the Town. Each year in November, the Town gathers on Diablo Road at the base of the tree to celebrate the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Adults and children of all ages come together is a festive evening that includes a visit from Father Christmas excorted by the local high school bands. Through the years, the Tree has provided support for signs announcing a special birthday or anniversary for a Danville citizen. Estimated to be 350 years old, the Oak Tree has recently started to show its age. The tree was discovered to be in jeopardy of weakening and possibly falling down. With the support of the community, a special metal support structure was installed to prevent the tree from falling. The Tree remains the most notable landmark in town and is the symbol for the Town of Danville.
In approximately 1870, the Osborn Home was designed and built by Charles Howard. Leonidas L. Boone, the great-great-grandson of Daniel Boone, owned the house and land beginning in 1871 and resided there for 11 years. The property was part of the Henry Ranch from 1880-1911 and was owned by the Strahlendorf family from 1911-1926. In 1926 I. Melvin and Myrtle Osborn purchased the property, which remained in the Osborn family for 62 years. It is believed the brothers Andrew and Daniel Inman lived on the site of the Osborn Home during the 1850’s. The town was named for Dan (and for Danville, Kentucky) in 1858 when the first post office was established. At the time, Dan owned all of downtown Danville. Andrew was also prominent and served as State Assemblyman from 1856-1857. The house is built in the Greek Revival Style, which is attributed to the period 1820-1860. Although the front door and kitchen roof have been replaced, the house still contains several signature Greek Revival characteristics, including the style of the window, the pediment roof, the mantel piece and details inside the door frame. The building was moved, turned to face Diablo Road, and completely restored and remodeled in the early 1990's and is currently a private residence.
The Eddy House is a Queen Anne Cottage that was built in approximately 1903. The house was nearly demolished in 1988, but the demolition permit was denied when the historic significance of the house was brought to the attention of Town officials. This one story clapboard structure has a pyramidal hipped roof and single front gable. It has a partial width porch, turned porch supports and two pane windows. Members of the Eddy family lived in the home continuously from 1903-1946. Although they were not particularly well known, they were descendants of Leonard Eddy who built a cabin in the Danville area in 1853 as one of the first U.S. settlers. A separate structure, since removed, at the rear of the property served as the first San Ramon Valley Union High School in 1910. As a side note, one of the Eddy’s was married to a relative of Walt Disney, who had visited the home.
The Vecki House is the one of the oldest buildings in Danville and is a great example of how preservation and redevelopment can be joined together for the benefit of the community. The original structure was built in 1866 by the Howard brothers, who were reputable local builders. The Vecki House gets its name from Dr. Victor John Vecki, Danville’s first dentist, who resided in the home with his family from 1906 to the 1930’s. At some point in time, the exterior wood siding was removed and replaced with stucco, an addition was built to the rear, a foundation was built and some windows and doors were replaced. In 2002, the structure was moved forward on the property, closer to Front Street, and a significant addition was built in the rear of the property. The Vecki House is currently being utilized for offices.
The Cabral House was built in the 1930’s and was first owned by Tony Cabral. The structure was built in a simple depression-style eclectic bungalow/craftsman architecture that was characteristic of the time period. The structure remained a private residence and kept in pristine condition through the years, in the core downtown area until 2002. At that time a significant addition was built in the rear of the property, keeping the original structure essentially the same as before. The structure is currently being utilized for office use and an upscale spa business.
The Foster House was built in 1926 and is the second structure built on the site. A fire destroyed the original Foster House. The structure was built by Joe Foster in a craftsman style of architecture that was characteristic of the time period in which it was built. The one-story structure has been utilized as a retail space with no alterations from its original condition.
The Southern Pacific Railroad Depot was built in 1891 after the railroad line was completed from Avon to San Ramon. In order to build the depot, 8.65 acres of land were sold to the Southern Pacific by John Hartz who owned the surrounding land. The coming of the railroad caused John Hartz to survey and sell lots known as the Hartz Addition which were adjacent to the new depot. This changed the Front street commercial orientation of Danville to the Hartz and Railroad areas to the west, due to the movement of passengers and goods along the rail line. The Depot was built similarly to all of the Southern Pacific Depot buildings of the period, as Standard Station No. 22. It was designed as a two story passenger and freight station which provided room on the ground floor for a waiting room, baggage room, freight room and office which had room for the station agent, ticket agent, telegraphy operator and often a Wells Fargo agent. The upstairs area housed the station agent and his family. The architecture of the Depot is a typical two-story Southern Pacific company plan. As were all of the depots along this line, it was painted a faded dandelion yellow/gold color and trimmed in brown. The original water tower collapsed many years ago through "demolition by neglect". The building was sold in the mid 20th century to Joseph B. Ramos who operated the Danville Feed and Supply until the 1990's when it was purchased, relocated about 100 yards north of its original location, turned around, and restored to house the Museum of the San Ramon Valley.
The Podva Farmhouse is a Stick (Victorian) architectural style home. It was built in the late 1890's and was originally purchased by Adolphus Godfrey Podva for ten gold coins. This wood frame house has a steeply pitched hipped roof and is a transitional example with double cross gables. This represents a transition to more of the Queen Anne style building. It has a one story entry porch supported by classical columns that have diagonal braces. The entry door has double-paned windows in the upper half with horizontal window over the top. There is a vertical board pattern in each gable apex, meeting a horizontal pattern beneath. The building was originally located where the Livery Merchantile is now located and moved to its current location and restored in 1980. The current owner is David Spurgeon. As a note, in 1933 Ruby May Oswill Podva was appointed acting post-mistress, then post-mistress in 1940 and served until 1963. The Podva family operated a large ranch in the Valley for many years.
This property is the site of the First Presbyterian Church of Danville and the oldest church in the San Ramon Valley. (The church was established in 1863 as the Central Contra Costa Presbyterian Church and was founded by the Reverend H.R. Avery). The cornerstone for the original building was laid on October 1, 1875 and the building dedicated on June 18, 1876 with 59 members. As part of the ceremonies, the Reverend R.L. Symington planted a California redwood tree in the front of the church. Trustees were Robert O. Baldwin, David Glass and J.J. Kerr; with Elders Joseph Wiley and A.J. Young. This one story building is one of the few examples of Spanish Revival architecture in the Town of Danville and the only church building of that style. It is a one story building with wood frame, stucco walls and parapets. The major exterior features include the barrel tile roof, arched windows in the front gable, end and wood casement windows. The original church burned down on May 27, 1932 and a new building erected in 1933 which was used until 1951 when a larger church was built on W. El Pintado. The tree and a small section of land was donated to the church by Mr. & Mrs. E.C. Wiester. From 1951 until 1984 the building housed the Lynn Day School, a specialized school for the handicapped. In 1989, the Town of Danville bought the historic building for use as the Town Meeting Hall and restored it to its original colors of light brown walls with blue and green trim.
The original address for this building was 355 S. Hartz Ave. before the street names and addresses were changed by the Town in the 1980's. The structure was built in the late 1900's and has the typical features of a Neo-classical Row House, with symmetrical windows, center door, and gabled roof, however it has no columned porch, which would have been typical for the period. It is believed that the original home has a porch, but at some point it was removed. The building is no longer a residence, but a commercial property. Bret Read was the local constable who married Ramona Lynch (from a San Ramon Valley family) and lived in this home. The house was later sold to George Brazil who lived there for many years before Dorothy Kelly, believed to be his daughter, obtained the property.
The Grange hall was built in 1873 by Nathaniel Howard, who also built several other historic homes still standing in Danville. The hall, or the Grange, as it was commonly referred to, was the first and only meeting place for local events and was a cornerstone of Danville social life for fifty years. The building, which is in the National Fold Style, was enlarged in 1913. That work entailed lifting the original structure, constructing another story under it, and rotating it 90 degrees. Soon thereafter an auditorium was added. The Grange is wood with a side gabled roof, with two stories in front and one and a half stories in the rear. The plywood siding with applied batts achieve the effect of a barn or pioneer meeting hall. In 1952 the Grange moved to its new location on Diablo Road. The original hall served as the Village Theater for a period of time and was purchased by the Town in 1987.
The Tony Cabral House (also known as the Foster House) was built in, approximately, 1926 by Mr. Cabral. In 1941, he sold the property to George Foster who resided in the home for a number of years. Sometime after Mr. Cabral moved to another property of historic note at 551 Hartz Avenue. This one story stucco Craftsman Cottage has a low pitched front gable roof with exposed eve overhang. The half-width porch has archinvault trim and a roof supported by tapered square columns that extend to ground level. There are double hung windows on the front and side. The house has been unaltered and remains in excellent condition and is still used as a residence.
A virtual reading tour of historic structures in Old Town Danville. You will learn about the origin of buildings, street names, and about the people who lived here.
Historic Walking Map