Welcome to Paradise - Page 5

Eichlers of Los Altos' Fallen Leaf Park turn to historic designation to keep their world tranquil and pristine
Welcome to Paradise
At home with longtime owner Angela Horine.
Welcome to Paradise
Welcome to Paradise
The two homes pictured here are indeed Eichlers—and unusual ones. Above: This Fallen Leaf model started out as one story in 1968, years before Claude Oakland returned to design its second-story addition, which gets praise from neighbors these days.

"Liliane would ring our doorbell occasionally, and say, 'Where's Joe?'" says Margot. Speaking of successful children, the Gordons raised two kids in her Eichler, including Dan Gordon, a founder of the well-known brewery Gordon Biersch.

One reason Joe Eichler became a fixture in Fallen Leaf Park is that the tract was built after Eichler Homes had fallen to bankruptcy. Eichler was now carrying on as 'J.L. Eichler Associates,' and the operation was stripped down. That meant Eichler himself was manning the sales office.

Mulhern, who had relocated from New York to head up PR at Lockheed Missile and Space Co., remembers searching for a home.

"I happened to drive through the area and stumbled on this house. It looked different," says Mulhern. "I saw a guy sitting in a beach chair, smoking a big cigar. That was Joe Eichler. I asked him what are these?"

"Joe was always available if there were problems," he says, adding that Joe provided an extra concrete walkway and put up a post for a basketball hoop.

Today, the neighborhood is undergoing a slow transition, with younger families and other newcomers making their mark. One newcomer, Nate Johnson, has made his through the historic quest.

One youngish couple, Rob and Aimee Castaneda, are making theirs in a more traditionally Eichler way—by renovating their house, which they bought from an original owner.

Rob, who's founder and CEO of a software-consulting firm, ServiceRocket, and was recently named one of the top 40 under-age-40 entrepreneurs by Silicon Valley Business Journal, doesn't come across as the stereotypical 24-hour workday tech mogul.

A recent Saturday found him puttering about the neighborhood with daughter Zoe, who was riding a scooter. He and Aimee, who moved here from Australia, also spend much time taking apart and putting back together their new Eichler, paying heed to its original aesthetics while adding the occasional sliding barn door.

"This is kind of art restoration," Rob says. "It's building something. It's doing something physical. The result is something you live in.

"What I like about this house is, I could build it. Not that I'm a builder. But I can understand exactly how it's put together. The only things hidden behind the walls are old beer cans," Rob says, pulling out an antique Lucky Lager he found in one wall.

In many ways, the Fallen Leaf Park that Rob, Aimee, and their kids (Charlie, Bella, and Zoe) enjoy today resembles that of times past. Families with kids are moving in. Charlie bikes to school, and the kids play outside. Children use a neighbor's old basketball hoop on Clay Drive.

Rob and Aimee make friends with other parents from school, and Rob's vice-president of marketing lives only a mile away—and has three young girls of her own.

ServiceRocket, by the way, brags about balancing the demands of work against the joys of living. That sounds very much like the Fallen Leaf Park way of life.


• The Eichlers of Fallen Leaf Park are clustered along Clay Drive, with some on Fallen Leaf Lane and Alexander Way. The cul-de-sac of Parsons Way, off North San Antonio Road, features a mini-cluster of seven Eichlers that retain their good looks. One of the two Eichlers on Almond Avenue, between Los Altos High School and El Monte Avenue, can be spotted from the street. The other occupies a lot to the rear.

Photography: James Fanucchi