PAST (Palo Alto Stanford Heritage) might have worked a little hard on their acronym, but the rest of their energy is even better placed: they are constantly trying to bring attention to Palo Alto's quickly-vanishing historical heritage, as more and more university-related big money renovates, destroys and builds over the historical homes of the area. As of 1997, a huge number of historic homes in Palo Alto's historic neighborhoods of College Terrace, Crescent Park and Professorville (what a name!) had been either drastically remodeled or torn down to make room for new development. Palo Alto's city government has never been nearly as interested in large-scale restoration or conservation of its historic architectural heritage, which is unfortunate; a lot of really beautiful buildings have been lost.
The organization has compiled a complete inventory of historic buildings in the area, a list much smaller than it used to be; recent local legislation has insured that most of these properties will remain intact as the rate of growth in the region continues to increase. They also have a number of useful resources on their web site, such as articles on "how to live in a landmark," researching the history of your home, and how to do such things as take advantage of the Mills Act or create a new Historic District. PAST offers walking tours and other events throughout the region and a number of benefits for members.