Cherry Avenue Resident Preserves Family History with House

In 1938, Switzerland-born Robert Bleibler moved into the Cherry Avenue house that is now one of the oldest in Los Altos.

His grandson, Armond King, keeps a sign for H. Bleibler’s Ornamental Framework (Est. 1903) to honor and preserve the legacy of Bleibler’s lifelong metalworking occupation, from creating artworks to mending general repairs such as constructing steel buildings, repairing plows and mending.

“His iron works could be used for a wide variety of architecture, from Mediterranean to Tuscan,” King said.

Having grown up as an artisan of wrought iron work—similar to the type that gates extravagant European homes—Bleibler began his work in Texas after moving to the United States in the 1880s. He established a general store in what is now known as Bleiblerville, Texas, which is a small community in northwest Austin, Texas. Bleibler started his business with rod iron work, horseshoes, rubber and general repairs.

King does not specifically remember how his grandfather’s potential as an artist was recognized and led him to transition from shoeing artwork and general repairs to creating solely iron works. He says that this transition, however, took place around the same time when people traded their “buggy whips for automobiles.”

During this transition, his iron work was unparalleled.

“Everything he did was completely by hand,” King said. “No machines at all.”

All of this history is embedded within the Cherry Avenue house. King and his grandfather shared many memories throughout the years, some just about enjoying the outdoors and some about a young King getting help from his grandfather with repairs.

When Los Altos was brimming with farms and apricot trees, King and his grandfather would spend time picking almonds, apricots, and cherries. His grandfather would host all sorts of parties for the family, all of whom lived within a five mile radius of the home. Now King’s property expanded beyond the house on Cherry Avenue today.

King fondly remembers his childhood activities at the house, and how his future generation will not experience the same memories. One of these activities would be hunting the squirrels around the neighborhood and helping his grandfather with summer barbeques.

“I had such distinct memories with my grandfather [and] it’s something my grandchildren will never understand,” King said. “They will not have the same desire to farm or take care of the house.”

Even though his children and grandchildren will never share the same memories as him, King chose to buy the home out of nostalgia. He wanted to keep his grandfather’s house within the family.

While Los Altos is often associated with Silicon Valley more than it is with apricot and almond trees, King has maintained the house for what will  this year be 100 years. Today in King’s house there are still a few apricot trees and a cherry tree, which is currently in bloom, in addition to a few preserved iron artwork by his grandfather.

“If someone does not preserve history, it disappears,” King said. “I would have to have my arm twisted in order to sell this house.”