Eichler Subdivisions: Eichler's Early Years: 1951-'52 - Page 5

Award-winning experiments of design innovation—touring Eichler's early California subdivisions

Ladera's three- and four-bedroom homes, which were Jones & Emmons' first designs for Eichler, went on sale in August 1951. They included Eichler's first split- and two-level homes, designed to fit on sloping lots. Several of these designs were later built as custom homes on the Stanford campus. Never completed as planned, Eichler's original Ladera project realized approximately a dozen homes, most of them limited to the Aliso Way cul-de-sac.

That same month Eichler introduced even more upscale homes at his Lindenwood development in Atherton for $42,500 to $49,500. Each home was built on an acre of land, and Eichler promised to retain the site's mature oaks. The Anshen + Allen-designed homes had many amenities, including cork floors throughout. Not unlike Ladera, Lindenwood proved unsuccessful, and was abandoned after only three homes were built.

A few months later, Channing Park brought 57 Anshen + Allen three- and four-bedroom, two-bath models onto the market in Palo Alto's Crescent Park neighborhood. Channing Park was another experiment in site planning, with homes grouped around De Soto Drive, which formed a lazy loop. Lot sizes and shapes varied, and many were irregular.

Homes at Channing Park came with landscaping designed by two of the country's leading modern landscape architects, Thomas Church and Kathryn Stedman. Walkways; plantings in front; and planters, fruit trees, and some play areas in the rear came with each home.

In 1954, 'House & Home' magazine focused on Channing Park to illustrate how Eichler was adding amenities to appeal to customers during a buyers' market. Rooms were larger than in most of Eichler's earlier subdivisions, storage increased, cork tile had replaced asphalt flooring, kitchens had natural birch cabinets, and bathrooms were 'glamorized' with larger cabinets and improved materials.

Walnut Grove, which made its debut in late 1952 in Palo Alto, filled several cul-de-sacs and winding lanes across from Fairmeadow with attractive, low-slung homes that look much larger than they are thanks to savvy designs by Jones & Emmons. Some have flat or single-pitched roofs, others low- or medium-pitched gables or multiple roof planes.

'Arts & Architecture,' the magazine whose Case Study House program promoted progressive modern design, featured a four-bedroom, 1,700-square-foot model with an exterior of vertical redwood, cork tile floor, and a dressing room and second bathroom attached to the master bedroom. The homes, the magazine wrote, possessed "a feeling of luxury seldom achieved in this type of project."

Where to Find Them

These seven early subdivisions, sequenced by the dates their homes first reached market, comprise Eichler's building in 1951 and 1952. To plot an expedient tour route, consider this sequence (from south): 7, 1, 2, 5, 4, 6, 3.

January 1951
Location: Palo Alto
Wilkie Way, Tennessee and Carolina Lanes, off W. Charleston Road
Architect: Anshen + Allen

May 1951
Location: Palo Alto
Ramona and Carlson Circles and surrounding streets, off W. Charleston
Architect: Anshen + Allen

August 1951
Location: Portola Valley
Most Eichler homes limited to the Aliso Way cul-de-sac. A few on several blocks
near La Mesa Drive off Alpine Road.
Architect: Jones & Emmons

August 1951
Location: Atherton
Linden Avenue, Hawthorne and Heather Drives, off Middlefield Road
Architect: Anshen + Allen

October 1951
Location: Palo Alto
De Soto Drive and Alester Avenue off Channing Avenue
Architect: Anshen + Allen

April 1952
Location: Menlo Park
Magnolia and Middle Courts, Olive and Oakdell Streets
Architect: Anshen + Allen, Jones & Emmons

November 1952
Location: Palo Alto
Mumford Place and nearby streets, off E. Charleston Road
Architect: Jones & Emmons