where to look in Menlo Park

homecontemporary

Eichlers do exist throughout Menlo Park, but you could live there a long time without knowing that.

Central Menlo Park has numerous clusters of genuine Eichlers dating from both his earliest and latest periods, although their visual impact is minimal. Like every upper-middle class neighborhood in this area, Central Menlo’s architecture is overwhelmingly conservative, and its few contemporaries are usually dismissed as “land-value only”. Only one Eichler neighborhood is of any size (but it’s one of the best around) and most are dispersed through in-fill housing and lost among the conventional ranchers.

Joe’s first Menlo Park effort, Stanford Gardens dates from 1950 and was one of his first five projects. This is an upscale development for its time, sizeable 3/2s, most of 1640 sq.ft., done without the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architects who would shortly make him famous. Designed instead by Joe with the help of a draftsman, they look like scaled up versions of the homes he built from stock plans for his first tract, Sunnyvale Manor. They have the same shed, “hat” or gable roofs.

A few similar shed roofs with radiant heating can be found just outside this neighborhood, on Olive and Cotton, suggesting that Eichler didn’t limit his efforts to Stanford Gardens. In fact, several pockets of known or suspected Eichlers are hidden on cul-de-sacs and flag lots along Santa Cruz near Hillview, and there are one-off contemporaries throughout Menlo Park, from Menlo Oaks to the County area, substantial homes that may be Eichlers or architect-designed customs or perhaps just stock plans. (With Joe basing his designs on stock plans, it’s hard to tell which is which.)

There’s another small tract of verifiable Eichlers next to Stanford Gardens called Oakdell Park, built in 1952-53. Like its neighbor, Oakdell Park is upscale with 3- and 4-bedroom/2-bath homes in the 1600- and 1700-sq.ft. range. At least one of these homes has a rather odd transitional layout, with two hall baths instead of the usual hall bath/master bath combination, an arrangement also found in Palo Alto’s Fairmeadow development of the same period—a rare example, like his idea of running radiant heating pipes in the patio slabs, of the Master out of step with the market. Having Eichler’s earliest draftsman-designed homes next to his architect-designed homes confirms just how much of Joe’s legacy is due to his architects. That’s not to say that the earlier homes of Stanford Gardens are deficient, but they’re decidedly typical for their era and price range, stiffer and more vertical than the low spreading homes of Oakdell Park.

Finally, there’s a hidden cul-de-sac of 1971-vintage Eichlers in this area, off Stanford.

Further east, Menlo’s Lorelei Manor off Bay Road consists of quite affordable 3-bedroom/2-bath contemporaries built in 1956. They’re small, mostly 1100 or 1120 sq.ft., on perimeter foundation with central heating.

Near downtown is a large MCM development, built between 1964 and 1973, of what appear to be townhomes but are actually attached single-family homes (which explains why there’s so much variation in appearance).  These homes are sizeable, often over 2000 sq.ft.

Belle Haven and Newbridge Park, extending from Bay Road to east of 101, have a number of small flattops, usually 2- and 3-bedroom/1-bath homes. Dating from 1946 to about 1954, these are typical of their era and market, ranging from about 900 to 1100 sq.ft., built on slab and with wall heater and one-car garage.

The discussion continues at Eichler City on Pinterest, with over a zillion MCM- and Midcentury-related photos and descriptions.  See photos of typical Menlo Park Midcentury Modern plus MCM icons around the world as well as lesser-known homes, architects and builders and even a few oddities.  Also check out Eichler City on Facebook

Feel free to contact me at jfyten@cbnorcal.com.

copyright © John Fyten 2004-16

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