The groundwork for Stevenson House began in 1958 with the Unitarian Senior Housing Association. This group, comprised of representatives of Unitarian Churches throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, was established to “determine and provide the means for moderate cost housing in a compatible living environment for the elderly members of the Congregation.“
After an extensive search for appropriate sites, the Palo Alto Unitarian Church donated 2.2 acres immediately adjacent to the Church. An additional .9 acre was later acquired from a private owner.. At about this time, a separate nonprofit corporation, the Palo Alto Senior Housing Project, was formed to operate Stevenson House.
Adlai E. Stevenson was a respected politician whose Unitarian upbringing (his great grandfather Jesse Fell was the principal founder of the Unitarian church) influenced his life in public service. He was best known for his service as Governor of Illinois; advisor to the US Delegation that founded the UN; and finally as President Kennedy’s appointed Ambassador to the UN until his death in 1965.
Formal ground breaking took place on September 11, 1966, and the Palo Alto Senior Housing Project Inc. was incorporated as a nonprofit entity with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in 1967, and simultaneously began using the DBA as Adlai E. Stevenson House and also Stevenson House.