Eichler Crazy in Fairglen - San Jose - Page 3

Fairglen is Eichler crazy—but its 'neighborliness' is even more infectious, making it a great place to live

Nagwani—and neighbors—know which homes in the neighborhood are most pristine, and seek out buyers attuned to preserving the Eichler aesthetic. Before Connors bought his very original Eichler, neighbors worried about its fate. "The people who live here," Borsellino says, "like Eichlers to the point where they want to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood."

But not to the point that they want to abide by design guidelines, although several neighbors have talked about establishing a local historic designation that could help prevent second-story additions and other unsavory changes.

home library

Phyllis Van Wagner's home remains largely original, and she would like to discourage second-story additions, but she speaks for many when she says: "Here, if somebody were to tell us what we could do with our front yards, we would be very upset."

Another authentic Eichler is the Peterson home, which has become "notorious, in a good sort of way," Juta Ailio says, for its commitment to all things mid-century, starting from the pair of 1964 Rambler Ambassadors in the driveway to Dave's collection of Cactus Crafts wagon trains ("that '50s tourist sort of thing," he says) to Lynne's vintage cookware. They even drink 1950s vintage soda, including that Mad Magazine standby, Moxie.

"The house may be the epitome," Juta says of the Peterson's house. "This is Eichler central."

The Petersons have Nelson clocks, both original and reproduction; a 1960s black-and-white TV; a pair of bucket-style easy chairs from Dux; a bed equipped with the Magic Fingers massager (45 minutes for 50 cents, from a bucket of quarters in their closet); and, yes, a pink flamingo in the atrium. "Our motto is: you can live whenever you want," Dave says.

Nostalgia is only part of the appeal, says Dave, who teaches philosophy, with a specialty in aesthetics, and who was born just as the 1950s were dying. "There's a moral component to beauty," he says.

Frank Lloyd Wright, whose work set Eichler on his path, argued that houses should be scaled for human beings. Today's McMansions and suburban wannabes are not, Dave says. But Eichlers are. Their warm wooden paneling is natural, unlike the cold white walls of many other homes. And he loves the atrium. "We've really brought the outside in. We've put it in the middle of the house."

"You feel a certain way when you're in a house like this," he says. "It's not so much that it's old. It's that they got something right."

Photos by David Toerge and Michael Greene