Some years ago I lived in the Heritage District in Sunnyvale, across the street from a resident who has lived her whole life a block away from where I lived. Since she knows that I have an interest in Sunnyvale history, and I am always eager to hear her musings on what life has been like on South Murphy Avenue from the 1940s to the present day, she told me, “I went for a walk and noticed something on the side of some of the houses. It’s some kind of marker. Do you know what that is?”
Once she started to describe what she saw in more detail, I knew what she was referring to because I had seen them, too — a decorative element in relief on the exterior of the house. One of them looked like a shield with swags of vines on both sides curving out. I had noticed it myself when I would take my baby daughter out for walks in the stroller. I’d walk through South Murphy, South Taaffe, and South Frances, admiring the old homes, enjoying the tree-lined streets, and marveling that this tiny neighborhood was removed from the hustle and bustle of the busy downtown.
My neighbor says she remembers something similar that was once on the facade of the movie theater downtown, before it was remodeled and the swag was possibly covered up. Is it the mark of a specific architect that could have been responsible for many of the homes and buildings in the heart of Sunnyvale? Do any of our readers know the answer to this mystery? What do the swags signify, and who designed them? If you have information or even a theory, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Margarete Minar