Established in 1891, Professorville got its name when a group of young Stanford professors settled in the neighborhood. The location was chosen due to its proximity to the University, but it was also the closest they could be to the university where members of faculty could actually own, rather than lease university land to build properties.
True to its deep, intellectual roots, Professorville has become home to many significant events and famous historical figures over the years. For example, located at 959 Waverley Street in Professorville is the childhood home of William Shockley, a Nobel Prize winner and co-inventor of the transistor. A few blocks over, at 367 Addison Avenue, is the garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started their famous company, Hewlett-Packard. Today, this garage is dubbed the “Birthplace of Silicon Valley.” Due to the area’s historical significance, Professorville is considered as a Historic District and several of its houses are designated as historic places, either on local or national registries or even both.
Residents of Professorville foster a strong sense of pride in their neighborhood. This is quite evident in the effort and money many residents spent in refurbishing homes to maintain their true vintage charm. The streets of this neighborhood are graced with homes of various styles, from brown-shingled Craftsmans and stately Dutch Colonials, to elegant Queen Annes and Colonial Revivals. In keeping with tradition, the properties also vary widely in configuration and size — flag lots mixed with standard lots and large lots flushed against substandard lots. While typically-sized lots in Professorville are about 6,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet, some larger lots are at least 10,000 square feet, while sub-standard lots range between 2,000 square feet and 4,000 square feet.
Because of the strong adherence to preservation efforts, remodeling or rebuilding a home in Professorville can be problematic and frustrating. Even if a house has the lowest level of historic designation, the homeowner must still jump through a number of bureaucratic hoops, further complicating an already drawn-out permit process. One such additional step is petitioning the Palo Alto Historic Review Board to approve the construction plans. The petitioner must justify the work and guarantee that the project will be in keeping with the aesthetic and lifestyle characteristics of the neighborhood. Even so, going through all these tedious steps doesn’t guarantee success. To help reduce frustration, if a potential buyer plans on giving the home a facelift or add an additional level to the home, it is best to check with the Building and Planning Department before making an offer to purchase the home.
Another negative aspect of Professorville is that a number of the homes here do not have a full garage. Many residents inevitably end up parking on the street, competing with people who work in the nearby downtown area for spaces on the street. This parking situation can be a daily hassle, especially for a family with more than one car.
Despite minor inconveniences, Professorville homes command a premium price. In 2013, the average price of a single-family home was $3,466,667, a robust average of $1,143 per square foot.