'Historic' Palo Alto Eichler

Model home and first Green Gables Eichler built hits market for the first time since 1950
Fridays on the Homefront
Original owners Steven and Jean Aronson (pictured above from 1999 holding a
copy of the 1950 House Beautiful magazine that featured their home) and their family owned their Eichler for 68 years. Their ‘historic' house, in Palo Alto's Green Gables, one of Eichler's earliest subdivisions, was once a model home. It is now for sale for the first time—with open houses set for this weekend March 3 and 4.
Photo: Bambi LaPlante
Fridays on the Homefront
Outside the Aronson's Green Gables Eichler today. Photo: courtesy Boyenga Team
Fridays on the Homefront
House Beautiful shot of Aronson's living room from the kitchen, 1950.
Fridays on the Homefront
Aronson house living room today.

To realtor Eric Boyenga, his new listing—a former model home in an Eichler tract now on the National Register of Historic Places—is more than historic. It's storied.

"I've sold model homes, I've sold custom homes, but not many houses with a story like this one," he said of the 1950 Eichler at 1914 Channing Avenue in the Palo Alto tract of Green Gables, one of Joe Eichler's earliest subdivisions. Furthermore, he added, "There are some unique things about this Eichler that you just don't see."

Weekend open houses for the listing, scheduled this Saturday and Sunday March 3 and 4, "are going to be the only times for the public to see it," said Boyenga, whose Boyenga Team is predicting robust buyer interest in the listing.

The primary reasons for Boyenga's enthusiasm stem from the story of the only owners of the house, who lived their last 60-plus years there, and some design features by architects Anshen and Allen that make the property stand out to someone who has sold dozens of Eichlers before.

"They haven't gotten rid of any of the original architecture. You just don't see that often," he explained of the three-bed, two-bath home with 1,660 square feet that he listed this week for $2,598,000. Referencing the design number of the home, he said, "Most of the early Eichlers don't have the same feel as this model."

Original owners Steven and Jean Aronson met in the military in 1940, married two years later, and were living together in San Francisco in 1950 when they began to tire of the City's dreary weather while mulling a move to the country.

"That's exactly what they called it—the country," their eldest son, Steven, Jr., said recently of the family's mid-century move to Palo Alto, which at that time had just over one third of its current population of 67,000. Recalling a neighboring five-acre Palo Alto parcel occupied by horses, the son adds, "It was pretty rural then."

"It was so different. It was ultra-modern for what we were used to," Steven, Sr. told Eichler Network director and CA-Modern publisher Marty Arbunich in 1999 about their impressions of the redwood-and-glass model home. "We liked it. We liked the idea of it being so open, and lots of glass. We saw possibilities."

"And the price was right, and we both had GI [bills]," he conceded to Arbunich. "So, we bought it on mine and figured, we'll live in it for five years, and then we'll move."

"He liked the openness," the son said of his father's eventual loyalty to the family Eichler, adding, "My dad really liked the house, and his goal was to die there, which he did."