The 1906 Earthquake destroyed many buildings in San Jose. The city was still primarily rural and had a much smaller population than San Francisco. Due to the distance between houses and businesses on the peninsula, significant fires were less likely to occur. With an approximate magnitude of 7.8, the major earthquake terrified residents, many of whom had never experienced anything like it before. The walls of the State Insane Asylum at Agnews near San Jose collapsed, burying upwards of 100 patients. Among the buildings wrecked in San Jose are St. Patrick’s church, the First Presbyterian Church, the Centella Methodist Episcopal church, and the Central Christian and South Methodist churches.
From St. James park to San Fernando street, every building on the west side of First street collapsed, toppled, or suffered severe damage. The Auzerias building, Elks club, Unique theater, and many other buildings on Santa Clara Street were destroyed. The Dougherty building and several adjacent blocks on Second Street were destroyed by fire. The new high school in Normal Park was utterly destroyed. The Rucker building on Third and Santa Clara streets and the Nevada & Porter building on Second street was also destroyed. An annex to the Vendome Hotel was utterly destroyed, and one person was killed. The State Hospital’s main building collapsed, pinning many patients under fallen walls and debris. One hundred students from Santa Clara College went over in a group and assisted in treating the wounded.
Most of the business section was left in ruins, and fifteen or twenty residences in the town were severely damaged, including the entire business section. Most of the damage to residences was caused by the sinking of the foundations, which led to many structures falling to the ground.
View of Grant School from Empire Street. A flagpole stands in front of the school to the left. The two-story stucco school stood on East Empire Street between North Tenth and North Eleventh Streets. It was demolished in the early 1970s after failing to meet earthquake safety standards.
The damage is most obvious on the right side of the building where columns are leaning. This house was at 460 North Fifth Street. It was owned by William Dougherty, founder of Dougherty Lumber Company, one of the largest lumber companies in the state. At the time of the earthquake, it was inhabited by his widow, Mrs. Ann Dougherty.
The Gothic post office is at center and is constructed of stone. There are three large towers, including two domed towers in the distance at left and a tall clock tower with a conical roof in the foreground at right. At left, a row of columns supports an overhang over a covered porch. A large dome can be seen between the towers.
The damaged brick walls of the large building still stand upright behind a grass yard which is lined with a row of palm trees. At center a tall, glass dome of the building still stands above the rest, but the brick walls at center are crumbled and expose the thin support frame inside.
The brick walls of the school still stand, but the roof and top level have collapsed into the center. Many of the rectangular windows are broken and a pile of debris blocks the three archways of the entrance on the left. Trees can be seen next to the building on the far left.
Several people stand along the street looking at the debris of a building that stood on the corner. The half of the building that did not fall can be seen just to the left with all the rooms on the visible side exposed due to the collapsed outer walls. The buildings along the street further down appear to be in tact with many horses and carriages as well as people standing on the sidewalk just outside.