Bio-Pen Pictures

            Jacob Lenzen, Principal of the firm of Jacob Lenzen & Son, Architects, No. 75 East Santa Clara Street, San Jose, has long been prominent in his profession in San Jose, many of the largest buildings in Santa Clara County, as well as in other contiguous counties, being monuments of his skill and judgment as an architect and of his reliability as a contractor and builder.  He was born near Cologne, Germany, on his father’s farm, and there lived until the age of eighteen years, attending the local schools and taking part in the labors of the farm.  In 1856 the family removed to America, settling first in Chicago.  There they remained six years, during which time Jacob learned the trade of carpenter and builder.  In 1862 the family removed to California, settling at once in San Jose.  Mr. Lenzen’s first work of importance here was building the Auzerais House, of which he had charge.  Having become thoroughly proficient in the practical knowledge of his profession, and being a close student of its theory, he in time added the profession of architect to that of contractor and builder, his natural skill and correct judgment refining and guiding the knowledge gained from experience and study.  So great was the confidence in the results of his work that he was given the building of the court-house at Salinas, the Flood mansion at Menlo Park, the court-house at Redwood City, the Masonic Halls at Watsonville and Hollister, the Odd Fellows’ Hall, Hester School-house, Horticultural Hall, and many other public and private buildings in Santa Clara County.  In 1884 he formed a partnership with his son, Theodore W., who had graduated as an architect, having studied under J. P. Gaynor, who built the Palace Hotel, the Phelan Building, and other prominent buildings in San Francisco.  In 1886 this son visited Europe in the interest of his profession, spending one year studying architecture from the higher methods of those countries, especially Italy, from which trip he returned in 1887.  Since that time a number of fine buildings have been placed in their charge, among them the Hospital for the Chronic  Insane at Agnew’s Station, which will cost over a million dollars.  The design for the Hotel Vendome was made by this firm and met with the unanimous approval of the company, but they thought the building from this design would cost more money than they were able to expend.  Here Mr. Lenzen’s practical knowledge of building manifested itself, and the contracts for the hotel, under his management, were let for five hundred dollars less than his original estimates.  The difference of only $500 between the estimates and actual cost on a hundred-thousand-dollar building is a margin closer than had ever before been known in the history of architecture.  The firm now have on hand twenty-five buildings for private parties, in addition to the public buildings being constructed by them.

            Mr. Lenzen was married in 1863, in San Francisco, to Miss Kathrina Heckenroth, a native of Germany, and at the time of her marriage a resident of San Francisco.  He attributes much of his success in life to the intelligent and inspiring influence of his wife. To them have been born two children, Theodore W. and Nettie.  In 1874 he was elected a member of the City Council of San Jose for two years.  In national politics he supports the Republican party.  He is a member of Garden City Lodge, No. 142, I. O. O. F., and of Encampment No. 35, of San Jose.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
Pg. 363
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight