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Santa Clara’s Historic Street Names

Where are street names came from?

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Did you ever wonder where our street names came from? Santa Clara has a rich and storied history populated with characters that are at once interesting and extraordinarily civically minded. Many of the streets that we, as residents, travel along every day are named for the people who had an impact on Santa Clara and helped to make it what it is today.

Following are some of the street names that commemorate people from the City's past:

Mayors: Santa Clara has several streets named for former mayors including Barcells Avenue, Concannon Court, Gillmor Street, Kiely Street Sign

Boulevard, Kohner Court, Rebeiro Avenue, Talia Avenue, and Viso Court.

Developers: Some of Santa Clara's streets are named for the developers who built subdivisions and industrial parks in Santa Clara. These include Bohannon Drive, Di Guilio Avenue (plus Di Guilio named Avila Street for his daughter), and Pasetta Drive.

Priests: A number of Santa Clara's streets are named for the priests who were connected either to Mission Santa Clara or the early days of Santa Clara University. These include Catala Court, De La Pena Avenue, Murguia Street, Nobili Avenue, and Viader Court. Los Padres Boulevard itself includes the Spanish word for priests.

Historians: Arbuckle Court and Rambo Court are named for Clyde Arbuckle and Ralph Rambo who both wrote may articles and books about Santa Clara Valley history.

Santa Clara is especially rich in streets named in honor of 19th century pioneers. These include:

Arguello Place: Luis Arguello was the first Mexican governor of California. His son Don Jose Ramon Arguello built one of the finest mansions in early Santa Clara.

Arques Ave.: Nellie Arques was one of Martin Murphy Jr.'s daughters. A founder of Sunnyvale, Murphy deeded Nellie a large plot of land in Santa Clara.

Bellomy St.: George Washington Bellomy established the first tannery in Santa Clara and operated a saloon here in the gold rush era. His wife was a Bernal family member.

Block Drive: Abram Block was a prominent grower, packer and shipper of green fruit.

Bowers Ave.: J.L. Bowers was a Santa Clara pear and prune orchardist who patented a method of preserving French prunes and was a trustee of the Town's Jefferson Elementary School District.

Eberhard St.: Jacob Eberhard was a German immigrant who purchased and enlarged a tannery which for many years was the largest business in Santa Clara.

Enright Ave.: John Enright's family came to Santa Clara Valley with the expedition that included Martin Murphy, a founder of Sunnyvale.

Fatjo Pl.: Antonio Fatjo came to Santa Clara in the Gold Rush era and established a store and bank here.

Franck Ave.: Frederick Christian Franck was the first Santa Claran to be elected a State Senator.

Halford Ave.: The Halford family built a house near El Camino and Lawrence in the 1880s. Although the family moved to San Jose after the 1906 earthquake, the house in Santa Clara remained until it was torn down to make way for a gas station in 1957.

Lawrence Expwy.: Alfred Chester Lawrence, a cabinet maker who came to California during the Gold Rush, placed a squatter's claim to land just west of old Santa Clara. He became a farmer, helped lay out Lawrence Road and became station agent when a railroad station was built near his property.

Lovell Pl.: John A. Lovell was Santa Clara Town Marshall for most of the 1890s.

Morse St.: C.C. Morse was founder of Ferry-Morse Seed Company and a pioneer in the state's seed industry.

Montague Expwy.: W.W. Montague was a rancher and a San Francisco postmaster who also manufactured coal and wood-burning stoves.

Pomeroy Ave.: Irwin Pomeroy was an orchardist who worked for the consolidation of the Town's Milikin School with its Jefferson School District.

Roll Street: The Roll family, early Santa Clara settlers, ran a prominent laundry business and various members of the family were elected Town Trustees or City Councilmen.

Roth Pl.: Henry Roth served as both a Town Trustee and as editor of the Town newspaper, the Santa Clara News in the 1910s.

Scott Blvd.: Henry Scott was a Danish-born cattleman who homesteaded in Santa Clara.

Woodhams Road: Named After City Pioneers

If you are turning right onto Homestead Avenue as you leave the Central Library, the first cross street you come to is Kiely Boulevard. After you cross Kiely, the next cross street off Homestead is Woodhams Road, which extends from Homestead south until it ends at Stevens Creek Boulevard. This street bears the surname of a prominent pioneer family that was attracted to San Francisco and then Santa Clara during the Gold Rush. Joseph Woodhams was born in England, October 23, 1803. In 1827, he emigrated and settled in New York. One of his sons, Alfred Roe Woodhams was born in New York May 30, 1832. In 1843, Joseph Woodhams, a millwright, ventured to Chile, South America, to become manager of the flouring mills of Burdon & Co. The rest of his family, including Alfred, joined him in Chile in 1844. In December 1848, having caught gold rush fever, 17 year-old Alfred left Chile for the goldfields of California, landing in San Francisco in 1849. Among other places, he worked in the mines near Hawkins' Bar on the Tuolomne River. By 1850, his father Joseph and the rest of the family immigrated to California, arriving in Santa Clara in the fall. Joseph set to work farming, and by 1852 had begun erecting a flourmill. The products of the mill were sold throughout Santa Clara Valley. In late 1850, Alfred joined his family in Santa Clara on their farm, which was "located on the Homestead Road, in the Milliken District." Joseph died at age 84 on July 1, 1887. Alfred became the proprietor of the family property, "Roble Alto Farm," which grew to include 143 acres bounded by what is now the intersection of Homestead Road and Lawrence Expressway. Alfred became quite prominent in business and civic affairs. By 1900, his name and picture show up in the papers of the Santa Clara County Pioneer Society, an organization in which he served as the first Vice President.

If any residents have information on streets named for their family or know interesting details about street names in their neighborhood, local history Librarian Mary Hanel would like to hear the stories. Call her at the Central Library at (408) 615-2909. Additional background about street names throughout Santa Clara Valley is contained in two books available at the library, Signposts and Signposts II, both of which were written by former San Jose Mercury News reporter Pat Loomis.

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