Skip to main content

Department ofAnthropology


Larder House

Larder House

Larder House Will Provide Window to Past for SCU Students, Community

Down on Alviso Street is a quaint looking home usually surrounded by construction vehicles, backhoes, and workers clad in reflective vests. The house dates back to the late 1850s and is the last remnant of a once-thriving German community that flourished in Santa Clara during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, the house at 1065 Alviso Street, better known as the Larder House, is being repurposed as a place of learning for both Santa Clara University students and the community at large, and will remain an ode to the history of Santa Clara.

Renovations are underway to prepare the house for student use, although care is being put into keeping it historically accurate. The exterior will be relatively untouched, while the inside is updated to create a modern and effective learning environment. Construction staff is shooting for a mid-summer completion date, making the Larder House ready for student use by the Fall 2018.

Once completed, the Larder House will serve as a living history lab facility for the Anthropology Department, where students can study artifacts found just below the house itself as well as around the Santa Clara area. The lab will be used for both lower division classes and research, providing students a unique way to explore the rich history of the city in which they reside.

While SCU students are the direct beneficiaries, the University felt it was crucial that the Larder House also served the greater good of the City of Santa Clara community. Signage is planned for outside the facility detailing the history of the house as well that of the overall area, so passersby can learn more about the house and its history. Says Lee Panich, Anthropology professor and archaeologist who has been intimately involved with the renovation, “We also plan to develop public outreach programming that will leverage the location of the Larder House, at a main entrance to campus, to help engage the general public with the archaeology of Santa Clara and the San Francisco Bay Area.” The house will be a part of the Historical House tour, so community members can enter and see the labs. Additional uses for the house will be developed as the project is finalized.

Originally the Larder House was destined to be used as a small museum featuring archaeological finds from the area. However, the University decided that using the house as an active learning laboratory would have more lasting value for both SCU students and the surrounding community.

Larder House artifact

Portion of a ceramic earthenware bowl made by Native Americans living at Mission Santa Clara. It was recovered in excavations that were conducted as part of an SCU archaeological field methods class in 2012.

Margaret Sorem (’18) examines an obsidian arrow point.

Margaret Sorem (’18) examines an obsidian arrow point.

homepage, anthropology

The original Larder House  (photo courtesy Library of Congress)