Tank House Gift Shop


The historic Tank House on the property of the Harris - Lass Museum is now used as a gift shop by the non-profit Historic Preservation Society of Santa Clara.  A variety of unique gifts, jewelry, books, toys, and handcrafted items are for sale at very reasonable prices. Some of the items available for purchase have a Victorian or historical theme, and many of the toys and games for children are both charming and inexpensive.  The Museum admission fee is not required for visitors wanting only to browse in the Tank House gift shop. 


The Tank House has an interesting history.  Although typical of the kinds of tank houses that once were common in agricultural Santa Clara Valley, this one is not original to this property.  Initially, it was located on the Rumbolz Farm at 2566 Homestead Road. The Santa Clara City Library (2635 Homestead Road) has a book published by Robert J. Levy entitled: Windmills – Water Towers & Tank Houses of Santa Clara County, which was a “Special Girl Scout Project Supported by the Sourisseau Academy to Preserve and Document Our Heritage 1975-1977.”  The Hartz-Rumbolz  tank house is included as Site Number 1 in the book. A recorder from Troop 233 interviewed Mr. & Mrs. Hart Rumbolz for the survey: “The original owners were Eliza Caldwell and her 3-4 brothers.  The original acreage was 140 acres of wheat fields.  The area surrounding the tank house was the main farmhouse.  They later split the acreage between themselves and planted orchards. Eventually Eliza Caldwell was the sole survivor and Mr. Harry Rumbolz, the present owner’s father, bought the three acres along present day Homestead Road … at that time, 1945, the orchard was in prunes… In 1933, the county gave the prune dehydrating shed next door the right to run a line to the windmill for water.  This lasted until 1963. ..”


The Rumbolz farmland eventually was sold to a developer.  In July 1987 Landmark-W.I.S.E. Development of Saratoga paid to move the tank house from Homestead Road to the Harris - Lass property, after the Santa Clara City Council required the firm to save the historic structure as a condition of developing an acre just south of Homestead Road and west of San Tomas Expressway.  Reporter Mike Casssidy wrote an article in the San Jose Mercury News on July 15, 1987: Movers divide and conquer old tower: Water tower gets new home in Santa Clara. It describes how the tank house had to be divided into three sections, turned on its side, and loaded by crane onto a flatbed truck to get to its new home.  In April 1987, the City had recently purchased the Harris-Lass property to be preserved as an historical museum. 


This article was adapted from one written for The Echo (The newsletter of the Santa Clara Arts and Historical Consortium) by Mary Hanel, Local History Librarian at the Santa Clara Central Park Library.  She may be contacted by email: research@harrislass.org   



Rumbolz property showing original site of Tank House.