Victorian Preservation Association - Not Just Victorians, But All Vintage Homes

Saving the Andrew P. Hill House

Andrew Hill House at History Park

Andrew Hill House at History Park

Andrew Hill House before restoration

Andrew Hill House before restoration

In 1995, the Victorian Preservation Association (VPA) acquired the Victorian home of Andrew P. Hill, an early and important San Jose photographer and painter.

He was also one of the founders of the Sempervirens Club, a group of environmentalists interested in protecting our coastal redwoods. It was his efforts that gave us what we know today as Big Basin State Park.

This city landmark building formerly was located on Sherman Avenue in San Jose CA, and was moved to San Jose History Park on Senter Road where the VPA has completed the nine year restoration in October of 2008.

Exhibit Plan

So now that the Andrew P. Hill House has been successfully moved to History Park and restored by the VPA, what's in store for it? It is one of San Jose's best house museums!

About the House

The Hill House is a three bedroom, one bath house, with a central hallway. Entering the house from the front porch, on the left the hallway provides access to the front parlor, back parlor, and kitchen. On the right side of the house, you'll find three bedrooms and one bathroom.

Formal Parlor

Hill House Formal Parlor

Wallpaper being installed in the formal parlor

The front parlor is what we would now refer to as the "living room". As Victorians were much more formal than we are today, their houses were set up so that guests could be greeted and entertained in the formal parlor. Unless you were a close friend of the family, guests seldom saw any other part of the house. Since this room is the most formal room of the house, it boasts a full floor-to-ceiling wallpaper treatment from Bradbury & Bradbury. It has been lovingly decorated and furnished to represent the lifestyle that Andrew Hill might have enjoyed at the turn of the century.

At Christmas time, this room will feature period Victorian Christmas decorations. Don't miss it!

Thanks to the San Jose Historical Archives, we have located many period furnishings and have placed them in the house.

Second Parlor (Dining Room)

Hill House Second Parlor

Looking through pocket doors
into Second Parlor

Connected to the Front Parlor by a set of pocket doors, the back parlor served as the dining room. This room has been meticulously furnished and decorated to the period of the house. Pay special attention to the Renaissance Revival Sideboard which is an excellent example of furniture from the 1880's. The fireplace mantel and surround have been completely recreated from period-appropriate tiles

Some of the decor of this room will change with the seasons, so visit often.

The Front Hall

Hill House Front Hall

Hallway with paint,
awaiting Lincrusta wainscoting

Extending the entire length of the house is the Hall which feeds into each of the rooms. Picture rail molding and a warm custard color adorns the walls. A special treat awaits those at the end of the hall where visitors can view through the plaster and see what the internal framework of the house really looks like.


Victorian kitchens were a far cry from kitchens built today. Since kitchens are usually the most renovated room in an old house, it is unusual to find an old house with an intact original kitchen. The Hill House is no exception. The existing kitchen when we acquired the house was a bad remodel, probably done in the 1950s or 1960s. We have redone the kitchen and have brought it back to how it may have looked in the 1890s. Off the kitchen is a pantry.

On the kitchen table you will find information on the VPA, along with membership information. A binder filled with "Before and After" pictures of various member's homes show visitors how run-down old houses can be turned into the jewel of the neighborhood. Be sure to check it out.

Front Bedroom

This bedroom has been furnished to an example of what an upper-class boudoir of the 1890s might have looked like. It features a rare walnut Eastlake style bedroom suite that must be seen to be believed!

Middle Bedroom (Exhibit Room)

This room houses both exhibits on Andrew Hill, as well as rotating exhibits that showcase the private collections of VPA members, so there's always something new to see!

This Room features exhibits on Andrew P. Hill's life and career. You will find on display, paintings and photographs that he produced during his prolific years. You can also find out more about his fascinating life and his crowning achievement of founding of the Sempervirens Club.

We hope to display some of Andrew P. Hill's paintings and photographs that the museum has stored in their collections. We'll keep you posted on our progress.


Hill House Bathroom

Bathroom in progress

As with kitchens, in the 1890s bathrooms were just being introduced into homes. No longer did you have to make a trip out to the backyard. The VPA has restored the bathroom with period fixtures such as a claw foot tub, high tank water closet, and wall sink.

Back Bedroom (Andrew P. Hill's office and studio)

In the rear of the house is a cheery little room with ample light. This room is a recreation of Andrew P. Hill's art studio. It reflects the interests and passions of a man who was a Painter, Photographer and Activist. His studio is bursting with a plethora of interesting items ranging from bird's feathers and sea shells to rare pinecones.

The Garden

Hill House Garden

Hill House Garden

What was once dirt filled with construction debris has been transformed into a lovely garden. Tony Ornellas created a custom topiary for the front garden. Aptly done, a majestic swan now graces the front planter box, its wings unfurled in a splendid display.

Hill House Garden

Hill House Garden

On the other side of the front stairs an Angel's Trumpet boasting the most magnificent peach flowers puts forth a heady perfume in the nighttime hours. The humming birds make a daily feast from its nectar.

Hill House Garden

Hill House Garden

The side garden is also taking off. Ferns and tall tropical plants with bright red flowers dot the path along the side of the house.


Hill House Garden

Hill House Basement

Hill House Garden

Hill House Basement

The Hill House originally did not have a full basement, although many homes from that period did. The VPA has incorporated a full basement under the house to provide room for storing salvage materials, a reference library, and a house restoration workshop. The basement is not open to the public.

Please visit us at San Jose History Park!

We hope that you will come by to see the Hill House on your next visit to San Jose History Park. The park features a fully restored Victorian town square with surrounding buildings and offers a myriad of things to do and see.

Admission to the park is FREE and visitors are invited to take self-guided tours of the grounds & gardens. Each day, two or three of the buildings are open with docents to discuss the Valley's rich history. There are three exhibit galleries to explore. You can hop on a Vintage trolley for a free ride around the park. See the Trolley barn's exhibit of antique Trolleys, cars, and machinery. Visit a working Print shop. Indulge in the savories and sweets at O'Brien's Cafe and shop in the Museum store and discover books, gifts and other items of interest.

San Jose History Park is open from 12:00 noon to 5:00PM every day (except Mondays).

History Park hosts many special events, for the latest news, visit their website at: to get the whole story.

See you there!

Join Us! Our door is always open to those who wish to get involved.

Docent Team: is responsible for the sharing of the house. This team is the life blood of the house museum. They coordinate when the house is open to the public and are the lucky few who have the opportunity to share the house & its story/history with all who visit.

Garden Team: is responsible for the garden areas of the house. This team will have the power of creation in their hands. They can submit their garden designs for the front, side and back of the house, and upon approval will move forward to make those dreams a reality. They are also responsible for the caretaking of the gardens (once planted).

Please contact Miranda info(at)vpa(dot)org and specify which team you'd like to be on.

Timeline of Restoration

Jul. 11, 1995 Our first look at the house. We decide to proceed anyways.
1996 Clean out day. Removed several truckloads of rubbish.
Jan.17, 1997 The house gets lifted off the foundation.
Feb. 3, 1997 The house is moved off the foundation and set on cribs.
Feb. 5, 1997 The house gets a new set of wheels.
Feb. 9, 1997 Moving Day!
Mar. 13, 1997 Moving Day (part two)
Mar. 19, 1997 Situated at its new home at San Jose's History Park
Aug. 2002 The Hill House gets new porch and step railings.
Mar. 2003 Painting of the exterior begins!
April 2003 Finished Exterior
September 2003 HVAC Installed
April 2004 Sheetrock
Nov. 2006 New Redwood door, window & picture railing moldings installed
Jan. 2007 Wainscotting & bullnose installed in kitchen, pantry & bathroom
Feb. 2007 The restoration is nearly complete!
May 2007 House is handed over to the Decorating and Exhibit teams to be transformed into San Jose History Park's newest house museum!
Nov 2008 The decor and exhibit teams are nearly done. The construction is done, now all we need is the Occupancy Permit signed off by the city.
April 2009 The house opens to the public.

The restoration of the Hill House was funded through generous grants from the Historical Heritage Commission of Santa Clara County and the Victorian Preservation Association. We are indebted to them.

For more information about Andrew P. Hill

If you would like more information about Andrew P. Hill, we recommend the book "Grand and Ancient Forest – the story of Andrew P. Hill and Big Basin State Park" by Carolyn de Vries.


Donations for the Andrew P. Hill house would be greatly appreciated. If you have items relating to Andrew P. Hill, please contact us. Of course monetary donations are always welcome as would donation of your time to help this important piece of San Jose history continue to thrive. All donations are tax deductible.

Victorian Preservation Association - P.O. Box 586 - San Jose, CA 95106-0586 -


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