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This cache has been archived.

beckerbuns: I'm sorry. I haven't been caching much lately and had missed these logs. I'm going to go ahead and archive this cache, since the referenced building isn't there anymore anyhow. Thank you to all who have sought it.


SJC- 3 - Tale of Fox and Donner

Hidden : 03/03/2005
1.5 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size: micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

What a sad place . . .

Update: As can be seen on site - the building is no more. It was taken down March 14, 2005. Bummer.

The Fox Building, located at 40 North 4th Street, is an important example of commercial use of a Mission Revival building. Designed by Louis Lenzen it was the location of the Fox-Markovits Company from 1894 to 1947. One of San Jose's pioneer metals dealers, they concentrated on salvaging scrap metal and related industrial materials decades before the word “recycling” came into common use.

Before After

The building was rebuilt in 1919 and served for many years until the expanding company moved their operations to a larger site on Old Oakland Road.

This historic building has been found eligible for the California Register of Historic Buildings; it is also eligible for City Landmark status. Plans for the site have varied greatly over the years. The site was first proposed as the new home of the San Jose Symphony. When those plans evaporated (as did the Symphony for a while), the City decided to build a parking garage instead, to house cars for the new Civic Center.

The 300-member Preservation Action Council heard of the city's plans and filed a law suit. In March 2004 a judge ruled that the city had violated the California Environmental Quality Act and told city officials they must search for other garage sites and consider relocating the three-story Mission revival building. (Kelley Historical Park, the grave yard for historic and obsolete buildings, comes to mind)

Why did the city officials decide to demolish the Fox Building? Well, the parking structure was originally planed to replace the Houghton Donner house. Once called “the most historic building in San Jose”, its present location is at 156 E. St. John St. The threat to the historic house, which is of a late -Victorian Italianate style and was home to two historically important San Joseans, early mayor Sherman Houghton and his wife, Donner Party survivor Eliza Donner Houghton, caused a public outcry, too.


   The San Jose Mercury News editorialized:

  • “It’s beginning to look as if the City’s preservation strategy is mainly Buildings on Wheels. . . . Now the homestead of a Donner party survivor . . . stands in the way of a housing and parking garage project at Fourth and St. John streets. Movers, start your engines!"

  • “. . . Perhaps the 120-year-old Victorian can be saved by just shifting it a bit on site. We hope so. It’s genuinely historic — the Donner connection is only one element of its history — and even after being cut up into apartments, it’s still easy to envision its elegant past.  >

  • “Moving historic buildings should be a last resort. San Jose has always relied too much on it. . . .  

  • “The trick to real historic preservation isn’t putting buildings on wheels. It’s noting where they are — and not planning to build something else on the spot.”  

Today the Fox Building looks rather sad, is in various stages of decay, surrounded by vacant lots and in the shadow of the fancy new Town Hall building.

Locationless cache alert:

  • To the right is a partly hidden sign for a car wash - I think it would pass as a googie view

  • Further down the street is a huge mural, right behind the filling station.

  • The building itself looks a bit like the trusted old Alamo. Sorry, taken already. Guess who?

The cache is magnetic and is located at shoulder height behind a sign at the corner of the fence. Since this is a rather public location, please use your stealth approach and pretend to be impressed - or saddened - by the Fox Building.

EDIT 03/05/05 Horwedel just reported: The building will be coming down in the next month or so. While the City lost the first law suit, Judge Nichols agreed that the City made the neccessary corrections to the process and the EIR was found adequate to demolish the building.
This is of course correct, I missed a San Jose Mercury News article from 12/7/04

EDIT 03/14/05: A trusted source tells me the building is coming down this week. :-(

EDIT 1/17/06: Some semi-good news about the fate of the building was published in the Mercury News today.

Additional Hints (No hints available.)



424 Logged Visits

Found it 393     Didn't find it 8     Write note 7     Archive 1     Needs Archived 1     Temporarily Disable Listing 1     Needs Maintenance 12     Owner Maintenance 1     

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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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