Sweet Sixteen

Neighbors build friendships and retain a distinctive rural feeling along Monte Sereno’s tranquil Eichler cul-de-sac
Sweet Sixteen
Hidden behind mature trees, the Monte Sereno Eichlers on a street called Via Sereno enjoy a setting of tranquility.
Sweet Sixteen
Sweet Sixteen
Sweet Sixteen
Inside and outside the home of Jennifer and Tim Begg, seen above with children Emily and Nicolas.

Jennifer Begg knew exactly where she wanted her family to live—though her husband doubted such a place existed.

"She had said, 'I want to live at the end of a cul-de-sac, where you know all your neighbors, and where our kids can run around on the street,'" Tim Begg says, recalling the days when he and Jennifer visited open house after open house.

"I said, 'Jennifer, that doesn't exist anymore. For one thing, people would call child services if the kids were seen running around the street.'"

Ah, but Via Sereno does exist, and it is almost as serene as its name suggests. Though it is just off sometimes-busy Winchester Boulevard in the South Bay hamlet of Monte Sereno, the 16-home Eichler cul-de-sac retains a rural feeling.

This is especially so at night, when the glow from within glass-walled houses, restrained landscaping lighting, and the stars provide the only light.

And sound? Rather than freeway noise, folks hear the lonesome whistle from the miniature steam-driven Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad down the hill in Vasona Lake County Park.

And, yes, the Beggs did move into a home at the end of a cul-de-sac, where they are friends with neighbors and where daughter, Emily, and son, Nicolas, play freely out of doors.

Sereno Foothills, as this Eichler tract was originally known, remains an almost intact neighborhood, one of Joe Eichler's smallest and one of his later ones.

The homes, designed by Claude Oakland and built in 1969 and 1970, are generally four bedrooms and two baths, and on large lots—though longtime resident Bryan Mekechuk points out, "These are the smallest lots in Monte Sereno," a city with large homes on hilly sites.

Some of the Eichlers have atriums, but others are loggia models, with large entryways opening onto living rooms. The most recent sale topped $2 million.

The street of Via Sereno is a place where people genuinely like each other so much, they say, that even when one property is allowed to deteriorate, and another becomes a construction zone for years, no one raises a stink.

"They are really nice people," longtime resident Ned Gault says of the homeowners whose fence, which prominently borders the neighborhood, is falling down.