Following her husband's death in 1881, Sarah Winchester used her fortune from the Winchester Company to build homes and purchase property throughout Sata Clara Country. One of those was a 165 acre ranch purchased in 1888 in present-day Los Altos, named it El Sueño ("The Daydream").
By 1904, Southern Pacific Railroad envisioned connecting San Jose to San Francisco by electric trolley. The construction required them to purchase Winchester's ranch. In 1907 Walter A. Clark, railroad executive Paul Shoup, and others established the town of Los Altos on her land.
The Shoup House, was built in 1910 on property between Adobe Creek and the train station. After WWII, Los Altos went from mostly farms to a rapidly growing town. In time the trolly declined in popularity and was discontinued in favor of building Foothill Expressway in the early 60's. [more]
500 University Avenue
Completed on Nov 21 On the West side of University Avenue, being lots 13 1/2 and 14 of Block 16 of the Los Altos.
Paul Shoup (January 8, 1874 – July 30, 1946) was an important national figure for the various roles that he played during the expansion of the Southern Pacific Railroad throughout California and the western United States. He was a keen businessman who had the ear of politicians in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C. He was a firm promoter of California and of the western way of life through his development of Sunset Magazine and his various professional and social organizations.
At the age of 36, he married Rose Wilson in 1900 in San Francisco and eventually settled in Los Altos with their three children – Carl Sumner, Jack Wilson, and Louise. Son Carl went on to become an economist, responsible for drafting the post-World War II Japanese tax structure, forming the modern Value Added Tax; he also taught economics as a professor at Columbia University. Brother Guy became a business partner with Paul in various Los Altos-focused businesses.
He is credited with being the founding father of Los Altos. It was his insight that saw an opportunity for a new community where only ranches and orchards existed in 1907. It was his connection to Southern Pacific and to influential local businessmen that resulted in the formation of the first development company, the Altos Land Company, which in turn was responsible for laying out the new town of Los Altos. [more]