Maple Hall/Cracolice Building



Built prior to 1892, this is perhaps the oldest commercial building on Main Street. Its interior walls are clearly shown on the 1893 Sanborn Perris Company fire insurance map. The large structure once had a dance hall on the second floor named Maple Hall. Below were a saloon, general store, a veterinary hospital and a barbershop.

Just south of Maple Hall had been French's Hotel until it burned, probably in 1890.  Alfred French had operated a hotel at the corner of San Jose-Oakland Road and Alviso-Milpitas Road for nearly forty years.

It was in a building like this that Milpitans held the meeting in the 1870s which sent delegates to a State political convention bearing signs proclaiming, “As Milpitas Goes, So Goes the State”. This audacious slogan struck many present as amusingly pretentious of the tiny, unincorporated collection of stores, homes, and smithies. For many decades after, Milpitas was the name people across the USA used to describe a small and backward location. When a new scheme was introduced the planners would ask, “Will it play with the man from Milpitas?” By this they meant would an ordinary person of little education/sophication approve of the idea. On the Vaudeville stage there were standing jokes about the town: the contest winner would receive a round trip ticket to Milpitas but the loser only received a one way ticket. An episode of PBS-TV's Sesame Street has a segment in which that gag still appears.

In the 1920s, a young pharmacist, Sal Cracolice, came to Milpitas and set up shop under the dance hall. Later, he purchased the building and for a time the local U.S. Post Office was located in its north end.  In 1953, Sal Cracolice was one of about two dozen Milpitas ranchers and businessmen who contributed money to pay the $500 filing fee to the State of California to incorporate Milpitas as a city.  Many of the contributors, who chipped in from $2 to $50) found the value of their property increased dramatically after incorporation.  A corner lot on Main Street that had sold for $800 in 1950 was valued at $15,000 by 1956.  Some large landowners in the Main Street area became millionaires practically overnight.  Most then moved away, although descendents of the Abel, Cracolice, Sinnott, Winsor and other families still own property in the area.

In the 1960s and 1970s Sal's son operated a men's clothing store in the south end of the building. Dr. Cracolice promoted more growth of the town and came to be known as "Mr. Milpitas." The Cracolice family lived north of the pharmacy on Main Street. The site of their home is now covered by the Calaveras Blvd. overpass. Dr. Cracolice died in 1999 after seeing his dream of a bustling, metropolis-like Milpitas come true.

In the early 1960s the building was extensively modernized. The unused dance hall was divided into small apartments and another addition was built on the north side. The roof line was changed by adding parapets and the front facade was raised and squared off. However, under certain lighting conditions, one may still discern an outline in bas relief of the building’s gracefully gabled curves or the placque that used to read "Maple Hall". Unchanged, is the doorway and decorative tile work located on the extreme southeast corner of the building's ground floor. There, it is just as it looked in photographs taken before the First World War. Still owned by the descendents of Sal Cracolice this remains one of the oldest continuously occupied commercial buildings in Santa Clara county.  The view to the left is no longer seen due to the construction of an office building on the vacant lot.

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