Josephine and Frank Duveneck Life, Part 1

Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills is a non-profit educational organization, its mission being to inspire studying and sustaining the environment, and promoting social justice. The valley in which Hidden Villa is located was originally inhabited by Ohlone Indians. Franciscan missionaries were the first Europeans, and planted an olive tree grove visible today.

The "White House," originally a stage coach house, is the oldest building on the property. Passengers from San Jose would stop in Mountain View, stay overnight in the White House, and continue to Pescadero the following day.

A large house on the property was completed in 1930 by Frank and Josephine Duveneck. The Duvenecks were Boston aristocrats.

Frank Duveneck's father Frank Senior was a noted American artist and art teacher.

Frank Duveneck, Senior, ca. 1915

Frank Junior was born in 1886, but his mother Elizabeth, also an artistic talent, died when he was only two. Frank Senior left Frank Junior in the care of Elizabeth's aunt in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Josephine (neé Whitney) was the daughter of Henry M. Whitney, who established the first electric transportation system in the United States in 1888.
Josephine's mother Margaret Green Whitney, 21 years younger than Josephine's father and from a much less affluent family, pushed her children to enter Boston society. Josephine, born April 12, 1891, the last of five children, was her father's favorite.

Josephine Whitney and Frank Duveneck met at a "coming out" party. They would not meet again for two years, but Frank had resolved to marry Josephine as soon as he saw her. Frank earned a master's degree in engineering at Harvard, and was working about 60 hours weekly for $60 monthly, not much for a Boston aristocrat, but he had taken the job to be near Josephine, as she learned later.

Josephine was striving for independence from her family, particularly from her mother, and was about to go to New York when Frank asked her to marry him. She turned him down, then reconsidered. Frank's low-key persistence was rewarded when Frank and Josephine married in June 1913.

After a brief honeymoon in the Adirondack Mountains, New York State, the newlywed Duvenecks embarked on a long voyage, sailing from Canada to England, then France, Germany, and Italy. Returning to Boston, they headed for western United States. In California they visited Josephine's sister Laura near Santa Barbara, then went up to San Francisco, which they found unlike any other city in the U.S. or Europe: "Two Bostonians at the Golden Gate in 1913 really had their eyes opened."

The Duvenecks had lost their hearts to California, but they continued across the Pacific to the Orient, which neither of their well-off families had ever seen. After a 21-day voyage they were in Japan, then Korea and China, the latter just after the Boxer rebellion. Returning to the U.S., they found Josephine's father reduced to bankruptcy by unsuccessful ventures, but concocting new schemes. Back home in Massachusetts they were having dinner with Josephine's sister Ruth in August, 1914 when they heard that England had declared war on Germany. It took a while for the realization to sink in that the peaceful era in which they had been born and raised had ended.

The Duvenecks' first child, daughter Elizabeth, was born in April, 1915. In 1917 the Duvenecks were living in Lowell, Massachusetts, where Frank was working on a special engineering project at the Merrimac Mills. Their second child Francis was born in September. When the New England winter set in, they found that their rented ramshackle house was utterly inadequate. Winds blew out the curtains, a hot water bottle froze overnight, and the children were sick. Having seen California, and wanting to get some distance from their overbearing relatives, the family left for California in April, 1917.

The Duvenecks' first home was near Santa Barbara, which was ordinarily pleasant, but a massive fire in the hills created stifling temperatures. The family took a train to Monterey, where Josephine and the children were recuperating when Frank telephoned to say he had rented a beach cottage at "sort of a funny place" - Carmel. Carmel, small and isolated as it was, got caught up in war fever when the United States entered the "Great War," as World War I was then called.

Frank was a pacifist, but enlisted in a California Signal Service regiment where his engineering skill would be useful, and was assigned to Camp Lewis in Washington State. He taught Josephine how to drive, in a Ford Model T, before leaving. Josephine and the children joined Frank in Tacoma in November 1917 and settled into a house he had rented. After a dreary winter, during which he was promoted to Master Sergeant Electrician, Frank was sent to the European theatre. Along the way in Massachusetts he saw his father for the last time.

Eight months pregnant with their third child, Josephine moved with the children to Palo Alto and rented a house at Addison and Cowper streets. Daughter Hope was born in May 1918. Josephine was obliged to leave her children in another's care to go to Cincinnati, Ohio to settle her father-in-law into a hospice; an inveterate smoker, Frank Senior had cancer.

Returning to Palo Alto just as World War I ended, Josephine bought a five-bedroom house on Newell Road just outside Palo Alto city limits for $7,500. She had written Frank in Europe for his approval, but the letter not having arrived, the first he heard was a second letter with "Well, I bought the house." Frank, serving in the army of occupation in Germany, did not get home until August, 1919. He saw Hope for the first time, and renewed ties with the older children.

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