Celebrating Green Gables

Eichler National Register neighborhood gets spotlight in Winter '23 CA-Modern
Fridays on the Homefront
Families in Green Gables' close-knit Palo Alto community get involved together in a myriad of social activities, from outdoor picnics to events that have developed into neighborhood traditions. Above: Jon De Feo (right) and son Dominic in their driveway, heading out for a spin around the neighborhood in one of Jon's vintage cars. Photo: Rory Earnshaw

Fostering community was what Eichler Homes was all about, and it's our guess that if Joe Eichler was still around today, he would have been pleased to see that Green Gables, one of his earliest-built subdivisions, is a place where neighborliness and pride of ownership still ring true.

In CA-Modern magazine's new winter '23 issue, features editor Dave Weinstein visits the Palo Alto neighborhood, and his 'Forging Friendships' feature takes readers on a delightful tour, interviewing homeowners and families who bring genuine joy to this lively community.

Sixty-three Eichler homes were originally built in Green Gables in 1950, and another 80 adjacent residences, in the area commonly referred to as Edgewood, followed in the mid-1950s. The early homes in the tract are particularly notable, reports Weinstein.

Fridays on the Homefront
In recent years, one of the most well-preserved Eichlers of Green Gables is the former Channing Avenue home (above) of original owners Steven and Jean Aronson, which was sold in 2018 by the Boyenga Team. "At the time, this listing was one of the highest sales prices per square foot in Green Gables," recalls Janelle Boyenga. Photo: courtesy Boyenga Team

"Considering how old the earliest Green Gables houses are, and how small they originally were—three bedrooms, one bath, about 1,100 square feet, no atrium—the neighborhood is remarkably well preserved," he says.

Weinstein discusses the older portion of Green Gables, which "is historic not only because it is one of the first Eichler neighborhoods with variants of [architects] Anshen and Allen's original Eichler model AA-1, but because this tract brought Eichler his first sustained attention in the press, when Architectural Forum named this and other early tracts 'subdivision of the year' in December 1950."

In 2005, Green Gables was named to the National Register of Historic Places. "Many but not all residents know about this distinction, and some take pride in it," Weinstein says. "But when they brag about their good lives in the neighborhood, they talk about each other."

Fridays on the Homefront
Very original-looking Green Gables exterior. Photo: Dave Weinstein

Supplemented by Rory Earnshaw's recent photographs, the warmth and easy camaraderie of the residents of Green Gables shines through.

You'll meet artist Alan Sonneman, who has made Green Gables his home and art studio for the past 25 years. His large-scale photorealist canvases depict scenic landscapes, many inspired by his camping trips to the Eastern Sierras.

"It's amazing living in a real masterpiece," says Sonneman. "It is a masterpiece of architecture. It's like every plane works well against the other. That's why I painted the doors different colors. So you have these colored panes."

  Fridays on the Homefront
Matt Robles and his son having fun. Photo: Rory Earnshaw

You'll also meet Matt and Sandra Robles. For Matt, a highlight of living in Green Gables is membership in the swim club.

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