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The Rengstorff House

Mountain View's oldest home, built in 1887 by Henry Rengstorff, The Rengstorff House stood on 164 acres near the marshlands East of Mountain View for nearly a century before being moved to its present location in Shoreline Park.

Rengstorff History

Henry Rengstorff emigrated from Germany to California during the gold rush in 1850 when he was twenty-one. However, Henry was too late for the easy panning of the early rush so he took a job a job on a bay steamer. He soon discovered real wealth lay in the land and rich agricultural bounty of the area and set about farming and acquiring land. He raised grain and hay, kept cattle, planted orchards, and had a private stand of redwoods for his building needs. He built a ship landing in the shoreline area. Rengstorff Landing became key in the development of Mountain View. His wealth soon grew and his status as a local leader followed.

 In 1864 Henry needed a home fitting of his wealth and status. He purchased 164 acres where the Shoreline Business Park is now located and built a 12 room Victorian Italianate style mansion. He then married Christine Hassler, another German immigrant and together they had seven children.

After Henry's death in 1906 his daughter Elise, her husband, and Perry Askam, the orphaned son of Henry's daughter Helena moved into the home. Upon the death of his aunt, Perry inherited the home.

In 1959, three years before his death, Perry sold the home and land to the Newhall Development Company. For the next 20 years the house was home to a number of families. This is the period when the Rengstorff House developed its supernatural reputation.

By 1979 the home had been abandoned and abused by vandals. Land developers wanted the house torn down so they could develop the land and citizen groups wanted the house saved. The City of Mountain View stepped in and purchased the house for $1.00 and moved it closer to shoreline. It was moved again, to it's present location, in Shoreline Park in 1989. A $1.5 million restoration of the structure was begun and in 1991 it was opened for public use.

The Manifestations

After Perry Askam sold the family property in 1959 to the Newhall Development Company the house went through a variety of residents and owners. It's during this period that the strange stories about the Rengstorff House began to circulate.

During the early 1960's the house was home to Max and Mayetta Crump. Max Crump was the manager of the Newhall Development Company. At first, life in the house was uneventful. Then strange things started to happen.

Thumping noises began to be heard  coming from the narrow staircase leading upstairs. During the night the Crumps would be awakened by the sound of a child crying but investigations could never find the source.

Other residents and visitors have also reported the thumping and crying. They've also reported lights that flicker on and off by themselves and cold spots that move on their own regardless of the weather.

Mr. Crump, a very practical and rational man set out to identify the strange noises. He set traps of flypaper around the house and even went so far as to acquire a night vision rifle scope to see if any human trespassers were perhaps playing a joke on him. Night after night he stayed up on patrol of his house yet the flypaper was never disturbed and he never saw anything. The whole while the sounds continued. Mr. Crump resigned himself that there was something about the house he just couldn't explain. 

click to enlarge
Henry Rengstorff

Mrs. Rengstorff in one of the parlors

Exterior of the dilapidated Rengstorff House

Interior of the dilapidated Rengstorff House

Front of Rengstorff House, present day

Side view of present day Rengstorff House

Garden side of Rengstorff House and current main entrance

Picture of Henry Rengstorff over fireplace

Parlor in the Rengstorff House

Maple burl piano. Similar to one used by Perry Askam

Fireplace in family parlor

Family sitting room and Rengstorff House docent

View of present day Rengstorff House

View of present day Rengstorff House

Another of the many unexplainable events occurred when friends of the Crumps came to the house, not knowing the Crumps were away. The husband knocked on the door, the knob turned as if somebody was trying to let them in. The wife looking through the side window saw that there was nobody on the other side!

It's also been reported that when the house was vacant a woman with long dark hair was often seen looking out of one of the second story windows into the marshland.

So strange and mysterious were the phenomena at the Rengstorff House that psychic Sylvia Brown was called in to investigate. She had several psychic impressions of what had happened in the house. One was of a man who had been strangled in a second floor bedroom for his money. Another was of an angry crippled man bound to a wheelchair after loosing one leg in a farming accident, the other crippled with arthritis. Neither of these events could be tied to the house through the stories handed down by the family but a secret attic room was found in the house. It's only contents was a hospital bed with leather restraining cuffs. What mysterious secrets does the house still hold?

Today the Rengstorff House has been completely renovated and stands at 3070 N. Shoreline Blvd. in Mountain View. It has been quiet since it moved to its new location. The upper floors have become administrative space for Shoreline Park. The Rengstorff House is open to the public on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be rented for private events on days when not open to the public. 


For More Information

Rengstorff House
3070 N. Shoreline Blvd.
Mountain View, CA 94043
City of Mountain View
Friends of Rengstorff House



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