Rare Flair in Ladera

Classic, original Jones & Emmons Eichler from 1951 'Ladera Project' hits the market
Rare Flair in Ladera
New on the market—one of the two-dozen Eichler homes built as part of Joe
Eichler's original 'Ladera Project' near Portola Valley. "It's almost like an art piece," says listing agent Monique Lombardelli. "It's a fully charged experience of 1951." Photography by Nate Donovan and Andrew Corpuz
Rare Flair in Ladera
Rare Flair in Ladera
These images take us back 65 years. Top: Two Jones & Emmons renderings of the La Mesa house first appeared in Arts and Architecture in 1951. Above: Very early Eichler Homes promotional shot of the house, even before landscaping, circa 1952.

One of the most unique and resplendent of the earliest Eichler homes hit the market this week, its current owners looking for the next 'steward' to continue its successful 65-year preservation.

"This is one of those homes that a lot of us enthusiasts have been excited about," says listing agent Monique Lombardelli of the historic Eichler at 311 La Mesa Drive in Ladera (adjacent to Portola Valley), which will host open houses this Saturday and Sunday November 5 and 6. The owners of the three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home are asking $2.399 million. "Out of the [approximately] 25 Eichlers in Ladera, it's the most well known."

Ladera itself is somewhat of a rare jewel—originally planned as a 400-home cooperative housing tract in the late 1940s by the Peninsula Housing Association to the designs of architects John Funk and Joe Allen Stein. The development was eventually aborted and, by August 1951, became the site of the first Eichler homes designed by architects Jones & Emmons.

Unveiled in the January 1951 issue of Arts and Architecture magazine, where they were dubbed 'the Ladera Project,' the original Ladera Eichlers, located on the Aliso Way cul-de-sac and on La Mesa Drive off Alpine Road, include another first—Joe Eichler's first split- and two-level homes.

Ladera's 1951-'52 models were larger and substantially more expensive than most other early Eichlers—but none of them, bubbles Lombardelli, are like 311 La Mesa.

"When they called me, I was like a kid in a candy store," she says about the owners reaching out in October to her company, Modern Homes Realty, which specializes in mid-century modern. "I almost fell out of my chair."

Some of the home's local fame is due to its prominent location at the corner of Gabarda Way and La Mesa, the latter being the neighborhood's main thoroughfare. Lombardelli says that for true Eichler fans, however, it's much more than location—it's the artistry of its architects.

"It's this split-level design that Jones & Emmons did," she says, declaring it to be totally unique among South Bay Eichlers. "There were [original] second stories built…in Palo Alto and on Yorktown in the Highlands, but they don't look like this."