Menlomorphosis - Page 4

In the midst of teardowns and imposing, new homes, Menlo Park’s Eichler owners still manage to cherish living modern
Dan and Erica Galles enjoying children Cade, Colin, and Averie.
Inside and outside Flo Barr's Oakdell Park home. Barr (pictured here) has lived in her Eichler for nearly 50 years.

Erica and Dan Galles moved into the best preserved of the trio in 2012 with sons Cade, 12, and Colin, 11, and daughter, Averie, 8. The 1,800-square-foot house, built in the early 1950s, is “small for a family of five,” Erica says. “But it lives much bigger than it is.”

When they remodel—another bedroom so the boys won’t have to share—they want “to maintain the character of the Eichler,” she says.

“Not being from California, I think it’s really a great experience for me and for my family,” she says of living in the home. “I think this is just quintessential, quintessential California. The entire back of the house is windows. We look outside all day long. It just really makes me calm and happy.”

It’s a great place to raise kids, with excellent schools pulling in young families, Erica says. Her sons bike to downtown and to parks, and her daughter will, too, when she’s a bit older.

“There’s not that kind of community of Eichler owners,” she says, “because we are scattered, and a lot of them have been converted into more traditional homes.”

There is, however, one fairly tight-knit Eichler neighborhood in greater Menlo Park—seven homes on Peninsula Way, across from Peninsula School, in unincorporated Menlo Oaks.

“This neighborhood has a very distinctive personality,” says Herb Wong, a resident since 1984 and a famous jazz historian, producer, and radio personality. Most of the Eichler owners know each other, their homes are relatively intact (some have cork floors), and some have original landscapes by landscape architect Thomas Church.

The homes, built in 1954 and 1955, are larger than most Eichlers, 2,800-square-feet on half-acre and three-quarter-acre lots, with five bedrooms and three baths. Most are hidden at the end of flag lots.

Their size, resident Judy Horst says, is what has saved them. Or most of them. Judy woke up seven or eight years ago to the sound of destruction equipment. “Within an hour the house was down,” she says of the Eichler that once sat at the end of their row.

And five years ago, when Janet Weisman Goff and her husband Greg bought their Eichler, the other bidders planned to tear it down, she says. The Goffs instead have been restoring it.

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