Heritage Park at 771 N. Rengstorff opened in 2016 to show off Mountain View’s history as a farm town. The grand jewel of the 1.2 acre park is the 1880s-area Immigrant House. Once thousands of these tiny houses were homes for the immigrant workers of the Valley of Heart’s Delight. With a footprint of about 400 square feet it is basically a tiny bedroom and a kitchen area. Immigrant House is Mountain View’s last such cabin.
Thanks to the Kiwanis Club, a grant from Google, Santa Clara County, private donors, and the Friends of the Immigrant House, the Immigrant House moved twice and landed at its permanent location. Currently, due to the pandemic, there are no guided tours for the inside of the house. But you can take a peak and see the lovely decorated interior. The front room shows a table with two stools, a shelf and a kitchen cabinet. The bedroom has a tiny bed.
The oven was also used for cooking. The information signage in front briefs us that the cost of rent in the 1930s and 1940s was $11 per month. A whopping $161 in today’s terms. To put this in perspective, farmworkers.org lists the farmworker wages between 1929 and 1933 to $1.90 a day.1 Assuming a 6-day workday, monthly wages are about $46. This means rent would have been roughly 1/4 of their income, and clearly counts as affordable in today’s terms.2
Other amenities of the park are the 80-year-old windmill, bees, and a community garden. The 130 trees originate from the previous owners and include 30 different varieties. There are tree identifiers placed next to them. Hopefully the annual Harvest History Festival, celebrated in September, can resume this year.
It is great to see the historic significance of the workers of the Valley of Heart’s Delight in the focus of this park.
Have you been to Heritage Park?
If you’d like to peek into local history I’d also recommend the Los Altos History Museum. They have another tiny house example of this time period, a tank house.
1“As the Depression deepened, the growers slashed wages and laid off workers. Between 1929 and 1933, wages dropped from $3.50 to $1.90 a day.” https://www.farmworkers.org/strugcal.html
2Affordable Housing: Affordable housing is generally defined as housing on which the occupant is paying no more than 30 percent of gross income for housing costs, including utilities. https://archives.hud.gov/local/nv/goodstories/2006-04-06glos.cfm