At Home with the Eichlers - Page 6

Tracing the revealing story behind Joe and Lillian’s 50 years living in 14 different places around the Bay
At Home with the Eichlers

12. Los Altos: Eichler tract home (1968)

Although Joe and Lillian continued to live at the Summit, in 1968 they also lived in a tract home at Eichler's Fallen Leaf Park, in Los Altos, which was opening then. Several neighbors recall seeing Joe and Lillian around their home, a model with a large atrium at 1684 Clay Drive.

By this time Eichler Homes had gone through bankruptcy, and Joe was running a smaller operation, sometimes selling homes himself.

Eichler didn't like making long drives at this time of his life, especially at night. It's likely they lived at the subdivision for convenience. An original owner at Fallen Leaf Park, Margot Gordon, recalls Joe and Lillian socializing with the neighbors.

At Home with the Eichlers
At Home with the Eichlers

13 & 14. Hillsborough: two custom Eichlers (1970-'74)

In 1970 the Eichlers moved from Russian Hill to Hillsborough, where they had last lived in the Frank Lloyd Wright home. This time it was to a custom Eichler at 20 Buckthorn Way (top photo), an attractive street of large houses.

Architect Kinji Imada, who worked with architect Claude Oakland on its design, has said the home was built as a spec house—but the Eichlers decided to live there. "When a buyer showed up," recalled Imada, "Joe found another Hillsborough lot that he could build the same house on—he liked it so much."

The home on Buckthorn has several low, shingled, gabled sections surrounding a central courtyard. From the exterior it does not resemble Eichler's next home, also by Oakland and Imada, at 1145 Barroilhet Drive. The Barroilhet house (bottom photo), home to the Eichlers from 1972 to '74, has one of the more unique plans Eichler ever used, based on an octagon.

But Imada said the floor plan was essentially the same for both homes. Before the Barroilhet house was remodeled out of existence, glass-walled rooms opened onto a central, octagonal atrium.

In 1974, at age 74, Joe Eichler continued to build houses. But he didn't get to enjoy octagonal living for long. On July 25 of that year he died, according to his obituary, of "heart troubles."

 

Photography: Ernie Braun, David Toerge, Walter Nelson-Rees, Dave Weinstein