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Along Mountain View’s streets of Monta Loma—where Eichlers spark a kinship with Likelers
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Mountain View's Monta Loma (above), a neighborhood that one day will likely be considered historic, is comprised of three tracts from three different developers—but functions as a single entity.

It's the kind of place where newly arrived children make friends even before moving in.

It's also where a 'gratitude chalk event' during the pandemic had young and old alike marking on the sidewalks "something they were thankful for," says Tricia DelGaudio.

Monta Loma of Mountain View, home to DelGaudio, is a place where residents wear caps inscribed 'Monta Loma,' and form knitting, garden, and bike clubs.

And it's where one longtime resident "makes these robots that he walks through the park at our annual Ice Cream Social," DelGaudio says. "He had a carriage one year that robotic horses pulled. It was so cool."

Another neighbor, Dotty Calabrese, known as the bird lady "because I'm always walking around with my binoculars when I'm walking my dogs," leads birding excursions through the neighborhood "to get familiar with the birds we can see here during the day," she says.

When it's time for "the beautiful hooded oriole" to arrive from Mexico, "I let people know when it's time to put out your oriole feeder box." Dotty also throws evening 'star parties,' and even held an eclipse viewing in 2017 that attracted more than 100.

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The Schoell family in their Eichler backyard: (L-R) Heather and Apollinaris with daughters Liliana and Vivienne. Being an inclusive community "is something we value as a neighborhood overall, and that is something we hope to continue in the future," says Heather, who is editor of the neighborhood newsletter.
 

Monta Loma is a neighborhood that will one day be considered historic for several things, including for its 200-plus Eichler homes that largely retain their looks, and because its curving streets serve as a test track for self-driving cars from such tech firms as Waymo and Nuro.

Other historic tidbits? Steve Jobs spent part of his childhood here, not in an Eichler, but in a modern tract developed by John Mackay. The Mackays in Monta Loma were designed by Anshen and Allen, who, along with architects Jones & Emmons, also designed the neighborhood's Eichlers.

The Eichler tract was built on the site of a small airport, and its Alvin Street roughly follows the footprint of the landing field. Seen from the air the Eichler tract is shaped like an airplane wing.

And, intriguingly, the original layout for the subdivision by Jones & Emmons would have been the most progressive of any of Eichler's tracts, providing greenbelts hidden behind cul-de-sacs. Together the greenbelts would have formed a freeform park connecting backyards but largely invisible from the street.

That would have reduced the number of homes, of course. "They decided to go with a higher density, and they changed the layout of the streets, and they got rid of the greenbelt," says Tom Purcell, who found the design in a Jones & Emmons book. Purcell, Monta Loma's informal historian, brings historical displays to community events, Monta Loma is also a place where, like lions and lambs, owners of Eichlers and owners of 'Likelers' break bread together.

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The living room and kitchen of the Schoell home.

Built from roughly 1954 to 1957, Monta Loma comprises three tracts from three developers, but it functions as a single entity.

Besides the Eichler tract, which Joe originally dubbed 'Fairview,' and the 'Oakwood' section of Mackays, the neighborhood includes 'Mardell Manor,' built by the Mardell Building Company. All these homes are mid-century modern, though the Mardells are more like 'mid-century modern lite.'

Altogether, former editor Marilyn Gildea wrote in the Monta Loma Neighborhood News, "Monta Loma rivals [Eichler tract] San Mateo Highlands and San Rafael for the designation of Bay Area's largest adjoining assemblage of mid-century modern single-family dwellings."