top of page
  • O'Connor Sanitarium
    O'Connor Hospital, the first hospital in Santa Clara County, opened in 1889 as the O'Connor Sanitarium. Judge Myles O'Connor and his wife, Amanda, built the hospital on 15 acres of their property. The O'Connor Sanitarium, on San Carlos Street, was erected in the year 1887 by Judge and Mrs. M. P. O'Connor, with the intention of providing an institution for the care of the aged, the sick and the afflicted. The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, at the invitation of the donors and suggestion of Archbishop Riordan, took possession of it on March 19, 1889. During the thirty years of its existence it has treated over 7000 patients. It is advantageously situated in the beautiful and healthful Santa Clara Valley at San Jose. and within easy access of San Francisco. Fourteen acres of beautiful grounds surround the sanitarium and forever prevent the possibility of any adjacent structure crowding close enough to interfere with the present ideal conditions. The spacious grounds are tastefully laid out in lawns and orchard, orange plot and pinery. Traversing these are numerous concrete walks and driveways, which afford ideal opportunity for exercise and recreation. The general plan of the building arrangement makes the most of the desirable location. The substantial brick buildings, grouped in architectural harmony, comprise a main building, two wings, chapel, kitchen, laundry, power house and stables. Isolated from these, stands the Isolation Building for contagious diseases. Numerous sheltered porches, a solarium, and a garden pavilion enable the convalescent to enjoy the benefits of the outdoor air. All the buildings are well lighted and ventilated. The different departments are completely equipped, each to meet its own special needs. They comprise the surgical, medical, obstetrical, X-ray and electro-therapeutic departments, a clinical laboratory and pharmacy, and the isolation building for the care of contagious diseases. The sanitarium is especially equipped for the care of surgical cases. The operating rooms are as complete and up-to-date in arrangement and equipment as it is possible to make them. The rooms are all sunny and well lighted. Owing to the favorable location of the Institution, the ideal climate, and extensive grounds, its facilities for the best treatment are ideal. Two large wards for male and female patients are maintaned and a smaller ward for chronic cases. In addition to these there is also a children's ward. Special attention has been paid to the needs of these little sufferers. Extensive improvements have been made in the obstetrical division of the hospital. In addition to the private rooms, a newly remodeled and equipped ward has been arranged. Adjoining this is the delivery room with interior finish, furnishings, and equipment planned to provide every convenience for the physician and safeguard for the patient. The nursery, with its row of basket-beds, open grate fireplace and sanitary tubs, is ideally arranged. The department of electro-therapeutics and radiography has been fully developed and equipped with costly paraphernalia and will prove of the utmost value in facilitating the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases and injuries. The equipment is of the very highest standard and latest design. The X-ray department has been enlarged and transferred to a suite of rooms in the surgical annex, where its convenience will be greatly increased. Special apparatus consisting of a Kelly-Koett eye localizer for foreign bodies, a bullet, or foreign body localizes, a Roentgen stereoscope, and numerous minor accessories, all tend to enhance the value of this department. The electro-therapeutic room has a complete equipment for the use of electricty as a medicinal agent. An elaborate Wappler cabinet furnishes all varieties of the electric current. A pneumo massage apparatus is included. Special diagnostic instruments, electrically illuminated, of the latest approved models, facilitate the diagnoss of the diseases of all accessible organs and tissues. A large Victor eye magnet for the extraction of foreign bodies has also been installed. The chemical and pathological laboratory has proved to be of great value to the hospital and the attending physicians. A complete equipment of all the apparatus, chemicals, and biological supplies necessary for modern analytical, bacteriological and pathological work is at the service of the attending physicians who desire to avail themselves of its advantages for the benefit of their patients or for original research work. An isolation building was erected and opened for service during the year 1910. All highly contagious and infectious diseases--measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, erysipelas, etc.--cannot be admitted or treated in the wards and rooms of the general hospital, and through lack of such a building many persons have been deprived of the facilities offered for the scientific conduct and efficient quarantine of such diseases. The isolation building was erected through the beneficence of Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Blaney, and is conducted by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Surrounded by its own grounds it is entirely separated from the main hospital buildings. The interior arrangement is such that no mutual exposure of the patients suffering from different contagious or infectious diseases is liable. The sanitarium is not endowed, the only income being from pay patients. Its ministrations are not reserved for any one class of patients. It belongs to suffering humanity, irrespective of creed. The physicians of San Jose of all approved schools of medicine, patronize the sanitarium, thus assisting very materially toward its support. It accommodates from seventy-five to ninety patients daily. In connection with the sanitarium there is a training school for nurses. This school is incorporated and is conducted according to the best methods of the day. The usual curriculum of the general hospital training school has been adopted. Lectures are delivered semi-weekly by the training school staff and there are semi-weekly classes conducted by the superintendent.
  • Saddleback Bar
    The Saddle Rack ("The Rack," as it is nicknamed by regulars) was a legendary country & western bar and nightclub which included seven bars, three dance floors, two bandstands a mechanical bull, and even a barber chair. Beginning in 1981, the Saddle Rack hosted live shows and concerts featuring singers and rockers--heavy metal and country--on the way up and on the way down, Buchanan says. Over the years, they've booked such acts as James Brown, B.B. King, Garth Brooks, Huey Lewis, Roy Orbison, the Charlie Daniels Band, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride and an all-star roster of other bands and singers. And it's not all Texas-style bragging. Inside Guenther's office, just like in the movie where Wes attempts to rob Gilley's (which inspired Guenther's Rack), wood-framed photos of celebrity singers line the faux wood-paneled walls. Guenther turned up the cowboy mystique when he incorporated a bull pen--yes, live bulls--in the back corner, where the dance floor closest to the bathroom now stands, around 1982. The story sounds familiar. On a busy Thursday night, Patty Gergel, 22 and a recent graduate of San Jose State University, tells her group of friends that she heard a rumor about the bulls. "They got loose and started running on 280," she tells her sorority sisters. "Shut up!" one of them screams. "It ran on Meridian, not 280," says Buchanan, clarifying the rumor later that night. Was it all the bulls? "Just one. It jumped over a 10-foot fence. That was amazing to see. An 1,800-pound bull jumping the fence." An automobile traveling on Meridian hit the bull and ended its spree of freedom. The bull arena didn't last much longer and in 1984, after their insurance company said they wouldn't cover it, Guenther shut it down. These days, the mechanical bull is one of the largest draws, with many just-turned-21, it's-my-birthday gonzos tanked on liquid courage lining up for a crack at it. (Wednesday bull riders pay $1; Thursday is free and Fridays and Saturdays is $2.) First, everyone must sign a waiver acknowledging that they will not hold the Saddle Rack liable for any injuries incurred. When one girl hops on--flanked in stiletto heels (stiletto heels!)--it's easy to see why it's a necessary agent. After several practice rounds, the bull ride operator begins testing the speed settings, so that people get bucked up, out, sideways, butt first into the soft mat. Friday and Saturday nights, Patty and her sorority sisters--Stephanie Sutton, 21, Michele Panzica, 21, and Ola Samuels, 22--know better than to line up for a ride unless it's a special occasion. Everyone watches the bull riders, cheering and clapping for the sure-footed, sturdier types who have either ridden a lot of horses in their lifetime or must have groins of steel.
  • The DiFiore Cannery (W. San Carlos @ Leigh)
    The Di Fiore Canning Company was a cannery in San Jose from 1913 to 1940. Located at this site, West San Carlos St. at Porter (now Leigh) Avenue[1]. The cannery was closed by 1940, and the building was torn down for a subdivision by 1950. The company was founded by Salvatore Di Fiore and Dominic DiFiore, a former California Packing Corporation employee[2] In 1918, both Di Fiores lived at 106 North 17th Street in San Jose. There may have been intervals when both were not running the company; a certificate of co-ownership for company in April 5, 1919 San Jose Evening News notes that Salvatore had been running the "D. Di Fiore Canning Company" exclusively for the last two years, but Dominic had returned in 1918. (Perhaps military service?) Their family might have been from the east side; the San Francisco Call, October 25, 1895 : "Fruit warehouse of Frank D. Fiore at Berryessa burned at an early hour this morning. About five carloads of prunes were destroyed." Fire destroyed the cannery on or before July 24, 1915 according to Insurance Press; a temporary structure was built to handle the imminent peach crop[3]. Di Fiore was canning apricots in 1917; a lawsuit claimed that Floyd Bohnett had promised to sell his crop of apricots to the cannery, but only delivered a fraction of the crop[4] The company's 1922 distributor was Walter M. Field & Company, San Francisco.
  • Burbank Theater
    The Burbank Theater has been a landmark on Bascom Avenue for more than half a century. Sadly, it has fallen on hard times in recent decades, with some past dubious uses and a run-down appearance. I worry that a future owner may want to level the entire building to redevelop the property. That’s why I was so heartened on June 19, when the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved my proposal to add the theater to the County’s HeritageResource Inventory. The theater was designed by Alexander Aimwell Cantin and Alexander Mackenzie Cantin, a father-son architectural team who designed many significant California theaters. Several oftheir designs have already been designated as historic resources, including San José’s Studio Theater and the Mountain View Theater. Outside of Santa Clara County, the Orinda Theater, the Lorenzo Theater in San Lorenzo, and Napa’s Uptown Theater have been recognized as either local or state landmarks. In addition, the Cantin & Cantin designed State Theater in Red Bluff is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Burbank utilizes the rounded and linear forms that typify the Streamline Moderne architectural style. The three-sided “Burbank” sign gives the theater unusual prominencebecause it can be easily read both by motorists on Interstate 280 and those traveling on city streets, such as Bascom and Basile Avenues. The theater is within walking distance of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. In the future,once the current litigation over the building’s ownership is resolved, I hope the County gives serious consideration to acquiring and rehabilitating this marvelous theater, eitherfor use by the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System or for another community purpose.
  • What is the Art Box Project?
    The art box project is an initiative for beautifying neighborhoods in San Jose by bringing artists and community together by bringing random works of art throughout neighborhoods. The Art Box Project SJ, inspired by photos taken by self proclaimed "Anti-Man-About-Town" and world traveler Gary Singh. It's being pushed along by Tina Morrill, an idealist who wants to believe anything is possible. The initial conversation (paraphrased): Gary: "This could never happen in San Jose." Tina: "Wanna bet?" And that, folks, was the project's start. Project Founder and Managing Director: Tina Morrill Project goals: Integrate art into SJ neighborhoods. Capture the unique voices of our communities. Surprise the passer-by with a spot of whimsy where they least expect it. Oh yeah, and pilot this as an innovative "anti graffiti" solution which the San Jose community owns and maintains. Map for self guided "Box Tour" (as of Feb. 2015):
  • How are History Boxes different?
    The Buena Vista Neighborhood Association has spent decades focusing on community and culture in the midtown area and after sponsoring a number of Art Boxes in the neighborhood, decided to take a new approach that would incorporate public art and community involvement with opportunities for people to experience and learn about the history of the place where we live, work, and play. BVNA started sponsoring History Boxes that aim to tell stories to people, giving them an opportunity to learn about the area around them. Using the History Boxes as historic markers, the boxes mark locations where things happened, be they historic events, famous places, quirky moments, etc.
  • Why Utility Boxes?
    Unfortunately, graffiti is a problem throughout San Jose and these Utility boxes tend to be magnets for these unsanction activities. Once the boxes are vandalized, it tends to take some time to remedy the situation because property owners don't tend to report the problem in a timely manner. Transforming these utility boxes is a low-cost, high visual impact project that beautifies neighborhoods and helps instill civic pride. Additionally, it makes it harder for taggers and graffiti artists to allocate high visibility targets. This reduction in tagging in turn results in lower long term costs because workers don't have to come out and continually repaint the boxes wasting both time and money.
  • How do I create a History Box?
    The process for creating History Boxes is the same as the process for normal Art Boxes. For more information, or to participate, please send a message to: The Art Box Project works in collaboration with Phantom Galleries. Artists who are interested in participating in the project should email
  • Who pays for Art/History Boxes?
    The City of San José is committed to supporting residents in their efforts to beautify their neighborhoods and create a cleaner and more vibrant San José. One of the methods they use to accomplish this is with the BeautifySJ Grant Program. The mission of the BeautifySJ Grant Program is to support residents’ efforts at reclaiming their public space and to empower residents to aesthetically demonstrate their pride in our City. The City believes that the power to shape the future of our neighborhoods lies in strengthening the civic participation of residents. The BeautifySJ Grant Program provides funds for neighborhood clean-up efforts, beautification projects and neighborhood engagement opportunities in San José. Typically, neighborhood associations allocate some portion of their grant money towards these projects.
bottom of page