Downtown Willow Glen's Historic Banner Images


You may have noticed some lovely new historic banners now flying in Downtown Willow Glen. What's the story behind the old photos, and the people and Willow Glen landmarks depicted in them? You can read the description and story behind each image below, or download the photos and stories by clicking here.

Do you have a photo of historic Willow Glen you'd like to share? Please click here for more information.

woman waving from a parade float

Willow Glen Improvement Club float in the Fiesta de las Rosas Parade. This float, called "Smilin' Through," featured Lena Linderman (sister of Emilia Linderman, the 1929 Fiesta de las Rosas Parade Queen) in an old-­‐fashioned garden scene. At the rear of the float is a well made of white roses. There are two vases on each end of the well that are also made of flowers. There are houses and crowds of people in the background. (Source: San Jose Public Library. Photo courtesy of California Room, San Jose Public Library)

streetcar running down a tree-lined street

Electric streetcars used to run down Lincoln Avenue. The San Jose Railroad streetcar ran to Willow Glen from 1920 until 1935. Two different independent companies operated the streetcars and both of them were negatively impacted by the economic realities of the Great Depression. The Southern Pacific Railroad operated the Peninsular Rail Line, which ran "Big Red Cars" down Bird, to Coe, to Lincoln, with a turn at Willow Street, then to Meridian Avenue. The San Jose Railroad lines ran down Delmas Street to Willow and along Willow Street from First
Street. Both lines turned south on Lincoln Avenue and stopped at Minnesota. (Source: WG Charm Website)

three men standing in front of a shop

The Willow Glen Basket Factory was located at 160 East Santa Clara Street in San Jose. The owner, William E. Sangster, lived on Malone and had a large property. At one time, the property was covered in willows that he used for manufacturing his baskets. (Source: Willow Glen Charm Website, San Jose City Directory)

group of people standing on the steps of a building

The first Willow Glen School opened in November 1863. It was located at the northwest corner of Lincoln Avenue and Malone Road. (The name "Malone" was actually a misspelling. The road was named after a rancher from the area whose last name was Melone.) Thirty-four years later, in 1897, to accommodate a growing community, a larger school was built on the southwest corner of Lincoln and Minnesota and was named Willow Glen Elementary School.

A few years later a smaller building was constructed next to the 1897 building. The smaller building consisted of only four rooms. The two buildings stood side by side until the bigger one was torn down in 1924 to
construct a still bigger school. The four-room wooden building was moved but no record exists to show where it was moved. Meanwhile, bricks from the 1897 building were saved and used to make the sign for the present school.

The 1924 school was a two-­‐story building with Spanish tile roofs. It remained in use until 1971 when still another new Willow Glen Elementary School building was constructed. It was made into a one-story building. The new building also reflected the time's educational philosophy of open space classrooms. Thus, there were no inner walls in that building. (Source: Willow Glen Elementary School Website)

building with a horse and carriage out front

Willow Glen's first Post Office was called the Kensington Post Office. "Kensington" was an early name for Willow Glen. The reverse side of this photo reads: "Between January 14, 1893 and January 14, 1895, all mail addressed to residents of Kensington, California, went to the Kensington Post Office, housed in this grocery store on the northeast corner of Minnesota and Cherry Avenues."

This post office bore the name Kensington until it became Willow Glen in 1895. It continued as Willow Glen until the transferring of its mail service to San Jose on January 15, 1900. It continued to house a store until razed to make way for Station 6 of the San Jose Fire Department, built in 1963. The bearded man in the photo is probably Postmaster Albert E. Winlow who, with D. W. Smythe, operated the grocery store under the name of A. E. Winlow & Co. (Source: San Jose Public Library, California Room)

a street scene with cars and telephone poles

In this photo from the 1930's, cars crowd Lincoln Avenue. The intersection of Lincoln and Minnesota Avenues had long been known as "The Corners." The streets have been major thoroughfares for more than a century.

Willow Glen’s business district on Lincoln Ave has experienced various incarnations over the years. Lawrence's Drugs was a mainstay on the Avenue from 1928 until 1993, when owners Don and Ann Emerson retired after years of neighborhood service. Ann's father, Vivian James "VJ" Lawrence, opened the pharmacy and store in 1928. It operated out of 1383 Lincoln Avenue for two years before moving a couple doors down to 1395 Lincoln Avenue. Lawrence died in 1982.

The Garden Theatre originally opened in 1949 and was a popular spot for Saturday children's matinee movies. It closed as a movie theater with the advent of multiplexes.

Willow Glen firefighters were all volunteers in 1932, when the city was still incorporated. The Adobe Hall on Lincoln Avenue was the city's fire station.

For many years, Bergmann's Department Store was an anchor location in Willow Glen and the center for multi‐line retailing on the Avenue with departments for ladies, men's, and children's wear; toys; yardage; hardware; and giftware. Leased businesses at the location included beauty and coffee shops, a shoe store, and a jewelry/watch repair business. Bergmann's opened on November 1, 1946 and operated until May 1991 when circumstances surrounding the passing of Conrad Bergmann, the store's founder, and increased nearby department store competition from the expanded Valley Fair complex (and other "big box" retailers) forced the closure. By 1993, Conrad's daughter Ann Bergmann Trudell and son­‐in­‐law Tom Trudell had divided the 19,000 square foot store into four ground floor retail spaces with room for other business on the "mezzanine" level. At that time, Lincoln Avenue frontage spaces in the "Bergmann Building" were occupied by Le Boulanger and Casa Casa with Cafe Primavera (and, shortly thereafter, Our Secret) located in the rear. After ownership by the same family for more than 65 years, the building was sold to its current owner, Sarangelo LLC, in April 2012.(Source: Photograph courtesy of the Nancy Newline Collection, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers)

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