Collections Corner: The Old Townsend House

Townsend barn and tankhouse
The Townsend Barn and Tankhouse by Lucy F. Walker, c. 1930
townsend house aerial view
Aerial view of Townsend house, 1948
Recently we received a donation from the Kanemoto family of Lucy Walker Townsend’s papers and artwork, documenting the old Townsend home at 1585 Schallenberger Road in San Jose. Some may remember the mansion, no longer standing, built by J. H. M. Townsend for his bride Katherine Chisholm, and where his children Ethel, Eva Maude, and Arthur lived for many years after. Townsend was the son of Dr. John Townsend, a member of the Townsend-Stephens-Murphy party who brought the first wagons over the Sierra in 1844.

lucy walker
Lucy F. Walker, c. 1928
Lucy F. Walker was born in Coulterville, Tennessee, and came to California as a child with her father Reverend John Walker, settling first in San Jose, and later Fresno. She married Arthur H. Townsend in 1929. Arthur Townsend operated ranches, and was also manager of the California Packing Co. plant in Reedley; after their marriage, he ran the family fruit orchard on Schallenberger Road.

woodcut Christmas card
Christmas card by Lucy Walker Townsend, 1964
Walker studied art, and taught the subject at both Sanger High School and Reedley Junior College. After marrying Arthur, she moved into the Townsend house, and continued to live there after his death in 1964. We are fortunate to have received two of her paintings of the property, created circa 1930, as well as a series of Christmas cards created from woodblock, and several photographs — images of a family house and orchard lost to time.