In 1997 the Museum of American Heritage signed the lease to the historic residence of Dr. Thomas Marion Williams, an early Palo Alto physician. Designed by noted Bay Area architect Ernest Coxhead, the Williams’ family home was completed in 1907. The house remains largely as it was in the Williams era, complete with Dr. Williams’ original medical wing.

Dr. Williams, his wife Dora, and their daughters Rhona and Betty played active roles in the Palo Alto and Stanford communities. When Rhona died in 1989, she left the family property to the City of Palo Alto with the proviso that the house and gardens be maintained as a center for cultural purposes in honor of her parents.

A generous gift from the Mel and Bill Lane families in honor of their mother Ruth Bell Lane, co-founder of Sunset Magazine, has enabled MOAH to undertake extensive garden restorations. Mrs. Lane’s passionate enthusiasm for western gardening has guided our efforts to create period-appropriate aesthetic and culinary plantings on the property.

While MOAH rents the Williams Property from the City of Palo Alto for a nominal fee, all maintenance costs for the house and garden are borne by the Museum with generous support from the community.