2017 Spring Tea

Friends of “R” House’s Annual Spring Tea is Saturday, March 18, 2017, 1:30 p.m.

Tickets will be available for purchase through EventBrite on February 1, 2017.  Tickets are $45 per person ($40 for Friends of “R” House members*) plus the EventBrite processing fee.

Tickets are limited as space is limited.  40 tickets are available for this event and tickets go quickly.  It is recommended that you purchase your tickets in a group block, instead of each person in your group buying their own individual ticket, as soon as they go on sale.

*Friends of “R” House members get discounts on our special event tickets.  One awesome benefit of membership!  Become a member of Friends of “R” House today, please follow this link: http://r-house.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/Web-FormQRGift.pdf


Stolen Trailer and Decorations Recovered


Hello Friends,

On behalf of the board of directors we are pleased to inform you all that the stolen trailer and our decorations were found. Thank you all for everything. The outpouring of community support has been overwhelming and please know that it has all been so deeply appreciated. We did sustain some damage/loss to certain items but the vast majority of our very special and unique items have returned to us unscathed. A huge thank you to the Belmont Police dept. the county of San Mateo, the Mountain View Voice, the Palo Alto Daily, the San Mateo Daily Journal, Google, The Los Altos History Museum, and so many private individuals, you know who you are. We are ever so grateful. Now on to Halloween 2016. Let’s make this the best event yet.



Hello Friends,

Please help if you can. The decorations, props, lighting, steampunk style machines, tombstones, fog machines, sound equipment, etc., for our Where History Meets Haunting Presents Inventions and Imaginations event, as well as the trailer they were stored in,  was stolen from Belmont, CA, July 27, 2016, between 12:00 and 3:00pm. Almost everything we need for this event, which is really two events, a free kids trick-or-treating event and ticketed evening programs, are gone. Our Halloween programs are our biggest fundraisers of the year. They support living history programs, collections care, arts programs and more. We are looking for a 2003 white Pace American cargo trailer full of the items listed above. The license plate is 4AK8870 VIN#4P2FB08193U037209 any info helps. Please call Belmont Police at 650-595-7400 or contact the Friends of “R” House at friendspresident@gmail.com or Rengstorff.events@gmail.com Please share this and help us make this go viral. See images of our lost items below and on our Facebook Page  

he Board of Directors, Friends of “R” House 

Mountain View Voice Article

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Shot by Bay Pirates

The Scow Schooner Mountain View

Captain Kirby of Schooner Mountain View Wounded in the Foot

That was the headline in 1903 which recounted the peril to which the captain and his vessel, the scow schooner Mountain View, a frequent carrier of goods to and from Rengstorff’s Landing, were subjected. It wasn’t piracy on the high seas or even the rough swells near the Golden Gate. Rather it was the calm backwater of the hay wharf on Mission Creek at the foot of San Francisco’s Third Street, where the Mountain View had made countless visits delivering bales of hay and sacks of grain grown by Henry Rengstorff and many of his neighbors in the South Bay. It was three o’clock in the morning when Captain John R. Kirby was awakened while sleeping in his cabin by a loud banging on his cabin door. He pulled himself out of his bunk, grabbed a revolver, opened the hatch and found three men, at least one armed, demanding his money, $60 (worth $1,580 today), which was kept in his cabin.

Kirby fired at them and one shot was returned, but the maritime mobsters were driven off, only to return a half hour later, again demanding money. In the ensuing melee one of the freebooters fired a shotgun, hitting Kirby below the ankle, then fled the scene without booty. With foul play afoot and unable to make a stand, Kirby called for help and was taken to Central Emergency Hospital where he was treated and interviewed by two detectives assigned to the case.

That was the end of the report. A search for follow-up news articles over the next four weeks was unproductive.

Readers may know that several years ago a scale model of the 61-foot Mountain View was erected on the shore of the sailing lake a short distance from the Rengstorff House, mainly for children to play on but also to learn some history. Might we expect kids to reenact “The Pirates of the Peninsula”? You be Captain Kirby, I’ll be Blackbeard. Yo, ho, ho!

“R” House Tea March 2014

The 2014 Victorian Tea was a rounding success and featured a lovely new addition to the program. This event was more than just a typical tea. This past winters exhibit on Victorian photography remained on the walls for all to see and appreciate and was augmented by a display of original Victorian clothing. Please enjoy the photographs below and consider purchasing tickets for next years event. IMG_00000231 IMG_00000230 IMG_00000228 IMG_00000229 IMG_00000226 IMG_00000224 IMG_00000225 IMG_00000222 IMG_00000223 IMG_00000220 IMG_00000221 IMG_00000218  IMG_00000217 IMG_00000214 IMG_00000215 IMG_00000210 IMG_00000207 IMG_00000204 IMG_00000196 IMG_00000194 IMG_00000233

Holiday Open House


Garden Party Living History

Living History

The Brainstorm and the Barrister’s Barley

Delphin Michael Delmas

Delphin Michael Delmas

Besides being the son of the infamous importer of garden snails (AKA escargot) from France, Delphin Michael Delmas was a nationally famous attorney and a shipper of products through Rengstorff’s Landing. The recently restored accounting record of shipments from the landing includes the June 1880 entry, “Shipped per Schooner Mountain View … 53 sacks of Delmas & Briggs barley and 100 sacks of [their] wheat.”

Delphin Delmas, farmer, dam builder, district attorney, defense attorney in the “Crime of the Century,” Regent of the University of California, presidential nominator, was born in France in 1844. He came to California at the age of 10, settling in Santa Clara County, joining his father, Antoine the escargot gourmet, who had preceded the family by five years. By 1858 Antoine owned vineyards with 350,000 vines of 105 wine varieties.

The son Delphin came to own 600 acres of Mountain View (now Sunnyvale) farmland near El Camino Real and Bernardo Avenue and built the Delmas Dam on Stevens Creek near Fremont Avenue. He graduated from Santa Clara College in 1862, received a law degree from Yale in 1865, was elected District Attorney of Santa Clara County in 1867, later carried on a private law practice, was known as “The Napoleon of the Western Bar,” was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis in 1904 where he gave the nominating address for William Randolph Hearst for president.

One of the most formidable lawyers of the age, he was selected as the defense attorney for the 1907 New York trial of Harry K. Thaw, wealthy playboy, for the murder of Stanford White, renowned architect. Witnessed by scores of onlookers at the Madison Square Garden roof theater, Thaw fired three shots into White’s face, instantly killing him. The motive was Thaw’s fury over the earlier, long term dalliance between White and Thaw’s new wife Evelyn Nesbit, artists’ model and Floradora girl, who became known in the tabloids as the “Girl in the Red Velvet Swing,” named for the device installed in White’s opulent apartment and used by Evelyn starting at age 16. This reference to her became the title of the 1955 motion picture detailing the crime and the trial. Delmas’s defense of Thaw was temporary insanity and was supported by medical testimony claiming that Thaw’s fulmination was the result of a “brain storm,” thought to be the first time that expression had been used. It became an instant catch word during the trial and ever thereafter, although the meaning has morphed from violence to whimsy. The trial ended with a hung jury; in the second trial Delmas got his client acquitted on grounds of temporary insanity.

Regarding the importation of vermin, early day snail experts speculated how the invading vegetarians spread to many parts of Northern California. If any investigatory brainstorm resulted in allegations that the pests had stowed away on Rengstorff’s shipments of Delmas barley, we can assume that Mr. Delmas stood ready to provide an expert legal defense.