Eichlers in San Bruno? Not quite, and San Bruno, squarely in the fog belt, might seem an odd place to find any contemporaries: this isn’t sun-splashed Santa Clara County. Millbrae, just to the south, can be in glorious summer while San Bruno shivers in what looks and feels like the dead of winter.
But the San Bruno hills have two sizeable and pleasant contemporary neighborhoods, built by the same Stoneson Development that brought you Millbrae Meadows. Stoneson Brothers was, like Doelger and the Gellerts, one of the earliest San Francisco merchant builders (they’re responsible for The City’s huge Stonestown commercial and apartment complex). Although the brothers died relatively young in the early 1950s, the company continues to this day as Stoneson Development. For San Francisco builders like the Stonesons, the Modernist look was just another arrow in their marketing quiver, although they stayed with it longer than the rest.
This part of San Bruno, near 35 and 280, is similar to San Carlos west of the Alameda, with its gentle hills, occasional Bay views and comfortable middle-class homes. The earliest contemporary development, Crestmoor Park #3, dates from just after Millbrae’s Meadows, from 1957 to 1959. Found along Crestmoor south of San Bruno Avenue, this is a decidedly and unapologetically contemporary neighborhood. There’s evidence of design risk-taking, including a striking contemporary-cum-Navajo rancher I’m fairly sure you won’t find anywhere else. Like Meadows, the single-stories are the most overtly contemporary in design, with their flat roofs, courtyard entries, big windows and open-beam ceilings, but even many of the two-stories look hip. Single-stories are all three- and four-bedroom/two-bath homes, about the size of contemporaneous Eichlers, from 1150 to almost 2000 sq.ft. Crestmoor contemporaries look a little softer than Eichlers, and many of their characteristics—hardwood, forced-air heat, perimeter foundation—are typical of conventional homes. It’s a pleasant, well-maintained neighborhood, sometimes offering Bay views and quarter-acre lots.
San Bruno also has Monte Verde, found between Skyline and Oakmont near Monte Verde Elementary. Built by Stoneson in 1961-1962, Monte Verde is similar to Crestmoor except in one very significant way: some homes feature the atrium. Stoneson must have known that atriums were a big part of the Eichler’s appeal by this time. Aside from that, we’re back to the safer, less aggressive mix of contemporary and conventional design that marks their earlier Meadows development in nearby Millbrae.
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copyright © John Fyten 2004-17