Time for an Eichler Museum!

The rich heritage of Eichler Homes is worth remembering for more than pure nostalgia
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How could an Eichler museum exist without showcasing the importance and charm of the home's atrium (as above)? The museum's atrium could be used for gardening exhibits, activities, and more. Photo by Sabrina Huang

We've been fantasizing lately, wondering what it would take to see an Eichler museum rise up here in the Bay Area—you know, one we'd all be proud of.

Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts have their world covered. They can visit Taliesen West in Arizona, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, the Darwin Martin House and complex in Buffalo, and many more homes and other structures by the man who inspired Joe Eichler to become a modern builder.

What about modern architect Richard Neutra? There are convenient hours to visit his VDL Studio and residence in Los Angeles, and the Neutra House in Los Altos offers tours. There is even a house designed by one of Joe's architects, A. Quincy Jones, that is open for public tours: the grandiose Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage.

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Fans of architect Richard Neutra can get their museum fix by visiting the VDL Studio and residence (above) in Los Angeles, and the Neutra House in Los Altos offers tours. Photo: Michael Locke

But where can someone interested in experiencing the glories of Eichlers go to get immersed in mid-century modern atrium living?

Don't Joe and his architects deserve to show off their work with a dedicated museum? And not, ideally, in one of the special Eichler houses: the all-steel X-100 in San Mateo; the made-for-the-media two-story 'Life House' in the same development; or even Joe Eichler's former family home, the most Wrightian of all Joe's creations, which will soon be coming onto the market in Atherton.

Wouldn't the best be to show off a typical Eichler, an atrium model from 1957 on? One with everything as it was when Eichler architecture firms Anshen and Allen, Claude Oakland, or Jones & Emmons envisioned it? Mahogany walls, globe lights, the original subtle ceiling stain, the kitchen cabinetry, and grass cloth closet doors?

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Back in 2002, 2,500 Eichler fans filed past the entrance of 'Celebrate Eichlers,' a special two-day extravaganza in Palo Alto, to take in, among other things, many panels filled with historical information and photographs about Eichler Homes and Joe Eichler's later companies. Photo: John Eng

The result would be a period piece of an Eichler, a trip back in time to the 1950s and '60s when these homes were new. Nostalgic, no? And useful, by showing people what Eichlers looked like when they were new, and what their designers intended them to be.

But an Eichler museum house could be much more. Panels filled with historical information about Eichler Homes and Joe's later companies (which built these homes from 1947 to 1974), as were displayed in 2002 at the special 'Celebrate Eichlers' event attended by 2,500 in Palo Alto.

And naturally one would display Eichler ephemera, as Steven Eichler, Joe's grandson, did in 2017 at the Los Altos History Museum: beautifully designed Eichler brochures, cool advertisements, Eichler Homes stock certificates, floor plans, site plans, and renderings.

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