An Independent Woman: The Life of Lou Henry Hoover

By Anne Beiser Allen; Jon L. Wakelyn | Go to book overview
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Chapter 8
"Washington Ought to Be in California"

The end of the war meant that no one could now criticize the Hoovers for building a $50,000 house on the Stanford University campus. When Lou cabled her husband in Paris, telling him what she intended to do, he replied, "Build house as you planned it yourself. Probably won't use it much for 15 years, but want it right then."1

Ignoring Bert's disquieting caveat, Lou immediately set to work. She knew exactly what she wanted. This time there would be no fussing around with prominent architects whose reputation might get in the way of her ideas. She asked her old friend, Stanford Art Professor A. B. Clark, to be her architect. He demurred, claiming that his teaching schedule would not permit him to give the project the time it needed. But he reminded her that his son, Birge, had earned a degree in architecture from Stanford in 1914. The war had prevented Birge from beginning his career, but now that he had been mustered out of the army, he was available if Lou would have him. Professor Clark assured her that his son was capable of building the house as she wanted it. In April 1919 Lou hired Birge Clark and work on the house began in earnest.

Lou designed the house herself. She consulted with Birge Clark almost daily to make sure it would be built to her specifications. "The lady is occupied these days correcting Mr. Clarle's plans of the new house every time he draws them," Dare Stark wrote to Laurine Anderson Small. "It is going to be unique -- pueblo Mexican Spanish with flat roofs and oriel windows and a wall and every corner of it habitable. A Hooverish place."2 Overlooking the campus at 623 Mirada Drive, the house was built on three main levels, with stucco walls. In his Memoirs, Bert de

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