Kelley Park, San Jose, California

The History Of Kelley Park – The Site Of The San Jose Historical Museum

In 1861, Judge Lawrence Archer purchased 160 acres just outside of San José’s city limits. He named the property around Coyote Creek “Lone Oak.” Archer moved his family in 1869, from their downtown home to a two-story house surrounded by elaborate gardens and accessed by two avenues lined with pepper, cypress and eucalyptus trees. There he grew orchards of prunes, apricots, walnuts, and was especially proud of his cherries. A well respected resident and attorney, Archer came to California in 1852 and settled in San Jose in 1853. Active in community service, he was Mayor of San José in 1856 and 1878; a County Judge from 1867 – 71; and served at State Assemblyman from 1875 – 76. Archer left his “Lone Oak” property to his only daughter, Louise Archer Flavin Kelley. She inherited the land in 1910 and it became known as “Ar-Kel” an abbreviation of her maiden and married names. The 5,600 square foot Kelley House near what is now Happy Hollow Park & Zoo was built in 1912.

In February, 2012, the Kelley House was badly damaged in a two-alarm fire and was scheduled for demolition by the City of San Jose. Presently, Kelley Park is managed by History San José, the historical society of San Jose, California which manages the various museums and historical buildings within the park.

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