Home of the Friendly Bargain - Page 5

After decades of obscurity, the spirited Eichlers of Concord are looking up—in the face of Mount Diablo's looming peaks
Concord Eichlers
The Parkside neighborhood borders the large, popular city-run Concord Community Pool (above) and park.
Concord Eichlers
Concord Eichlers
Concord Eichlers
The three images above show off the diversity of models found in Concord's three Eichler developments.

"We had bought the crappiest house in the neighborhood. We didn't want to go into debt to fix the house, so we raised money and prioritized.... So the yard didn't get done," Little says.

"I was pregnant with my second child," Medina says. "My husband had just gotten laid off. We were not worried about the front yard. We were worried about paying our bills and staying in our house."

Little and Medina went door to door handing neighbors a letter in response. "It just kind of got heated for a minute," Baum recalls.

"It has quieted down," Little says. "I don't think they realized the tone of their letter and how it would appear to us."

From the start, though, folks in the Concord Eichlers have mostly gotten along—even folks from different races, and even in the beginning. Siobhan O'Hara says her parents, recalling how Irish people had suffered discrimination, welcomed moving to a neighborhood they knew would be integrated.

Parkside was the first integrated neighborhood in Concord, says Norma Griffin. She and her husband, both African-Americans and teachers, were among a handful of black families who bought there originally.

"Ralph knew about Eichler's policy of selling to anyone who could afford his homes," Griffin says of her late husband. She still lives in her home, which remains essentially untouched.

Tired of being told by agents, "I'm sorry but I can't sell to you," the Griffins bought an Eichler in 1964. They were welcomed within the neighborhood. "If you moved into an Eichler," Griffin says, "you knew you might have a person of color living next to you. So if you didn't like that, you didn't move in."

The couple's two boys were invited to birthday parties within the neighborhood, but not to those of their friends from school who lived elsewhere in town. And shopkeepers were shocked to discover that black people were living in Concord.

"They said, 'oh.' Just 'oh,'" Griffin recalls.

Concord's Eichlers may have a lot of history, but to the wider world they remain little known. That may be changing, though—at least in Rancho del Diablo.

Many Eichler neighborhoods have sizable signs at their entries proclaiming their name to the wider world. Not so the neighborhoods in Concord, yet.

"We want to do a sign that says 'Rancho del Diablo,'" Karl Underwood says. It would be on the Underwoods' lot, he says, and they'd light it up at night. "We want to make a statement about what this place is. Renee and I love the name—Rancho del Diablo."

 

• Visiting the Concord Eichlers: All three neighborhoods are about two miles from charming and historic Todos Santos Plaza, along Clayton Road. Parkside includes Gainsborough, Barrrington, Merridan, and Lancashire Drives, between Concord Community Park and Babel Lane. Rancho de los Santos is across Clayton Road, with homes on West Street, Salem Street, Houston Court, and Santa Fe Court. Rancho del Diablo includes homes on Phoenix and Sacramento Streets, Wilson Lane, and Mendocino Street, all to the east of West Street.

Photography: David Toerge, Sara Goetz, Hunter Wimmer