Home of the Friendly Bargain

After decades of obscurity, the spirited Eichlers of Concord are looking up—in the face of Mount Diablo's looming peaks
Concord Eichlers
A bird's eye view of one of Concord’s Rancho del Diablo, with Mount Diablo in the background.
Concord Eichlers
On the streets of Rancho del Diablo, during the 2014 Fourth of July 'Hodgepodge Parade.'
Concord Eichlers
Concord Eichlers

When you've just moved into what one of your neighbors called "one of the doggiest Eichlers in the neighborhood"—the atrium's converted into an indoor room complete with a drop ceiling, and profanity is spray-painted on the exterior alongside a headless Styrofoam deer used for target practice—well, you might feel a bit edgy when your neighbors come to call.

Blaine Siler sure did.

His new neighborhood, Rancho del Diablo, is one of three subdivisions Joe Eichler built in the family-friendly, generally working-class town of Concord between 1963 and 1965. The other two are Rancho de los Santos and Parkside.

Surprisingly, all three are not only filled with homes that, from the exterior at least, are intact, but they are increasingly filled with fans for all things mid-century modern.

"I'm surprised at how many really strong enthusiasts there are here," says Suzanne Dunn, who is such an enthusiast herself that she and her husband bought their Concord Eichler sight unseen. "There are people here who really invest in their homes."

"These neighborhoods are starting to change," says Karl Underwood, a recent arrival from England who came complete with a 1959 Rock-Ola jukebox, the best collection of western shirts you've ever seen, a 1930 'model A' Ford hot rod, and just the kind of woman you'd expect a guy like that to marry.

"I think the people who lived here [before], they really weren't into Eichlers," he says. "I think the neighborhoods are becoming more an enclave of Eichler enthusiasts."

"[Concord] still seems such an amazing deal for people," says Dunn, who paid $373,000 for her home in 2013. "It's been a sleeper, a bit of an unknown. But I think the word is getting out."

"It's a pretty friendly neighborhood," Siler says. "It was scary moving here. We've lived in Oakland and Petaluma, and [while there] we maybe talked to one or two neighbors. And then you move here and everyone knows everything about your house and what's wrong with it."

"We moved in and four days later there was an impromptu cocktail party," he recalls.

"At first it was incredibly invasive. I thought 'this is a bit too much.' It's like a cult here. They're all so social. Then, when you get to know them," he said during a gathering of neighbors, letting the sentence trail off.

"It would have been so much nicer if I had opened up right away, because I didn't at all. I never invited anyone over for years, for years."

Concord's three Eichler neighborhoods could use a few more shade trees, but they are pleasant places. Two are nearly contiguous. The third, Parkside, is half a mile away.

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