Palo Alto Online: Palo Alto Museum ‘breaks ground’ ahead of Roth Building restoration

This article originally appeared in Palo Alto Online.

In a ceremony outside the historic Roth Building at 300 Homer Ave., which once housed the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, advocates of the museum celebrated the building’s restoration, set to begin in July.

Following a series of speeches, representatives of the museum, the city, Santa Clara County, Stanford University and the project builders and architect posed for a photo holding symbolic scoops of soil with golden shovels.

The 1932 building in the city’s University South neighborhood was designed by Birge Clark, an influential local architect according to Palo Alto Stanford Heritage. Its restoration is possible thanks to five separate grants from the county of Santa Clara totaling almost $1 million, a $3 million federal grant secured by Rep. Anna Eshoo in 2021 and additional donations. The county grants will go toward restoring original features of the building such as its windowselevator and roof.

With 900 donors so far, the museum is launching a $3 million fundraising campaign to cover the cost of operations, Board President Rich Green said.

“The journey isn’t over,” Green said. “We have more fundraising to do. You will be hearing from us.”

Mayor Lydia Kou, described by Green as a “die hard supporter” of the museum, recounted in her speech how the building came to belong to the museum. According to Kou, the city bought the Roth Building in 2000 and, a few years later, put out a request for proposal to which it received one response: the museum. The city and the museum entered a lease option in 2007 and have been hammering out the details ever since. The museum was awarded a 40-year lease on the property, Green said.

The museum will feature galleries, meeting spaces, a cafe, a gift shop, a multimedia studio, public restrooms and the city archives. Elementary school students studying local history will benefit from educational opportunities at the center and the multimedia studio will serve as a space to record oral and video histories, Kou said.

The museum is working with Vance Brown Builders and architect Michael Garavaglia to complete the project. If all goes according to plan, construction will be done by the end of 2024.

“There will be a place where those of us who care about this community and want to remember its stories can come to be sure that those stories are still being (told),” Supervisor Joe Simitian said in a speech at the event.

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