About the House
The Rengstorff House, built in 1867, is the oldest house Mountain in View California
and is a fine example of the Victorian Italianate architecture. The
Italianate design is evident in a hip roof with a central gable crowned by a
window's walk, the front portico and a symmetrical room layout. The five paneled
front door with headed detailing and pairs of high, double hung windows with
arched tops are typical of the Victorian era. Each half of the front of the
house is a mirror image of the other. Matching bay windows flank the front
door with identical arched windows above them.
A pair of square columns supporting the front portico, two matching brick
chimneys complete the balanced look of the house. The house was constructed
of douglas fir with redwood rustic siding, wainscoting and gutters. The
12-room, 3,955 square house has 10-foot ceilings on the second story and
11-foot on the first floor. Four marble fireplaces adorn the four main rooms
on the first floor. These include the formal parlor, the library parlor, the
family parlor and the men's smoking parlor which has the only black fireplace
in the house. A large dining room , kitchen and wrap around porch complete the
downstairs. (See photos below). The second story had four bedrooms, a sewing room and servants
quarters, used today for staff offices.
The dining room and parlors are decorated with period decor wallpapers
similar to those available in the 1860's-1890's. These rooms are framed with
cove moldings, picture rails and chair rails. The stately Newell post at the
bottom of the staircase, characteristic of the Italianate style, was recreated
especially for the house. The Newell post and handrail are crafted from solid
mahogany. The staircase, with its hand-turned balusters, is a good example of
the high quality of craftsmanship is a fine Victorian home. Oak hardwood floors
throughout the downstairs add to the grandeur. Many ornate brass chandeliers,
once lit by gas, descend from Victorian plaster rosettes on the ceiling.
A modern kitchen for catering and restrooms have been added to bring the
Rengstorff House up to date.
Rengstorff-a Pioneer Family
Henry Rengstorff was a native of Germany, and at age 21, like so many others,
he was lured to California by the gold rush, arriving in 1850. Too late to
join the gold rush, he worked on a bay steamer between San Francisco and
Alviso. Later, Rengstorff worked as a laborer in the Santa Clara Valley,
saving money and ultimately becoming very wealthy by purchasing land for
farming and raising cattle.
In 1864, Rengstorff bought 164 acres of land which is now part of the
Shoreline Business Park where he built the house in 1867. He met and married Christine
Hassler, a native of Germany. They had seven children.
Near where the house stands today Rengstorff built a ship landing which played
a significant role in the development of Mountain View.
When Rengstorff died in 1906 at age of 77, his daughter Elsie Rengstorff Haag
and her husband moved into the family home with Perry Askam, the orphaned son of
Elsie's sister, Helena Rengstorff Askam. Perry inherited the house after his
In 1959, Askam sold the house and property to a land development company. A
succession of owners held the property over the next 20 years. In 1979, the
house was purchased by the city of Mountain View, eventually moved to its
present location and restored. In March 1991, the house was dedicated as a
public facility by the City council.