Pride Runs Deep

‘Eichler Homes of Saratoga’—an enclave where appreciation and respect have never gone away
Pride Runs Deep
Just one of the 44 reasons why Li Xu and Wenchi Fang love their Saratoga Eichler: the atrium, truly the dominating feature of their interior.
Pride Runs Deep
Pride Runs Deep
Pride Runs Deep
At home with the Young-Sakakibara family in their beautiful Eichler. Three shots take us on their house tour—as the family gathers in the kitchen (top), hanging out at poolside (middle), and getting a glimpse of their stylish living room (above).

We've got Fairhills and Fairwood, Green Gables and Greenmeadow, Rancho Verde and Rancho San Miguel—all evocative names for neighborhoods developed by Joe Eichler.

But was Joe's romantic imagination running low in 1964 when he began building in one of the Bay Area's loveliest towns, Saratoga?

Why else would he simply name his planned subdivision of 47 homes 'Eichler Homes of Saratoga'?

Maybe he was so proud of these large, well-designed homes—many with dramatic peaks and equally dramatic floor plans—that he wanted to name them after himself. After all, this is the only tract with 'Eichler' in its name.

Although Eichler's Saratoga goal came up short—he only built 35 homes there—the pride that rose from the homeowners since then has never gone away. You see it in how well kept up most of the homes remain, nearly 55 years after their building, and in the landscaping.

And you see it in what you don't see—hey, where are the houses that have been hammered out of shape?

Out of 35 homes, only two no longer count as 'Eichlers,' and one of those will soon become 'more Eichler,' says John Klopf, the architect behind an ambitious neighborhood rebuild.

Otherwise, despite a couple of other houses that have modernized the Eichler aesthetic a tad much on their facades, and one that has taken on an Arts and Crafts air, the Eichlers of Saratoga appear intact—at least from the street.

'People appreciate the Eichlers,' says Paul Lovoi, who's lived in his home since 1977. His Eichler appears original from outside, though it has been reconfigured within. 'We're a strong Eichler enclave that wants to preserve the Eichlers, and we're all for Eichlers.'

That's a relief to hear, considering the vicissitudes that are affecting some other high-priced Eichler neighborhoods in Silicon Valley cities, where people seeking added living space have been buying mid-century modern homes and replacing them or adding second stories.

The story of Saratoga, instead, is one of perseverance over time, with neighbors who never lost faith in Eichler style, even as mid-century modern fell out of fashion, and of a younger generation moving in that has taken up the original aesthetic again.

And isn't that as it should be in one of Eichler's grander, if smaller neighborhoods, in a city that is regularly counted by realty watchers as one of the most expensive housing markets in both the state and nation?

Elyse Hornig-Belanger, an opera singer who was raised in the neighborhood and still lives there, recalls a place where kids would catch tadpoles in the creek and bike through orchards that bordered the homes.

The neighborhood, built in 1964 and 1965, was upper middle class then. Elyses's dad was a professor of mechanical engineering at San Jose State, one of a group of San Jose faculty who bought Eichlers on Saratoga's Columbine Circle because they were friends.