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Our Mission: History inspires imagination, stimulates thought and transforms society.

The Los Altos History Museum preserves and shares our local history to enrich our community and to shape a more informed future.

J. Gilbert Smith House

smith house

The J. Gilbert Smith History House is located on one of the last active apricot orchards in the Santa Clara Valley. This 1905 shingled farm house was built with many Craftsman-style features.

In 1954, the city of Los Altos purchased the Gilbert Smith property, including the house and 10.44 acres of apricot orchards, as a site for the Civic Center, with the Smith’s retaining lifetime residency of the house and a surrounding acre. Upon Mrs. Smith’s death in 1973, the house and one acre reverted to the city.

In 1974, the Los Altos City Council created the Historical Commission to plan the transformation of the Smith home into a museum and to preserve the history of Los Altos. The History House opened on December 1, 1977. In 1987, it was designated as a local Historical Landmark and a California State Point of Historical Interest. Gilbert Smith’s apricot orchard (one of the few still intact in Los Altos) continues to thrive among the buildings on the Civic Center site.

The Craftsman-style house features period furnishings, toys and decorative arts that all rekindle memories of a simpler time. Children especially will gain a new perspective and appreciation for present day conveniences. The J. Gilbert Smith House requires a docent guide.

Explore Inside the House

smith house bedroom
Upstairs the bedrooms provide a glimpse of Depression-era fashions, period furnishings, and favorite toys.
smith house office
The front room, used as a bedroom in the Smiths' day, is now a gallery with information on the house, the family and orchard life.
smith house kitchen
The kitchen is complete with 1930's cooking utensils, appliances, and a pantry stocked full of apricot jams and preserves from the surrounding orchard.
smith house dining room

On the first floor the living and dining rooms’ historical detail will stir memories of a childhood or grandparent's home.

Outdoor Agricultural Exhibit

tank houseVisitors are welcome to stroll through the historic gardens filled with towering oaks and the active apricot orchard that surrounds the Museum complex.

Explore the refurbished 1915 tank house, antique farm equipment, walnut hullers and tools for cutting, sulfuring and drying apricots. Enjoy the gardens even when the House and Museum are closed. Picnic tables are available for lunch under the oaks.