This ‘Addition’ Really Worked Out Well

Los Arboles Addition is distinguished by a collection of Eichler-built two-story homes. Jean and Chet Sandberg have been living in theirs since the neighborhood was new. Photos by Sabrina Huang

On the face of it, Los Arboles Addition wasn’t one of Joe Eichler’s most successful tracts. Interest rates were high when the Palo Alto tract came on the market in 1970, so sales lagged. Also, Joe himself never saw the tract complete, as he died in 1974. Today. however, the 30-home tract, which we profile in the new spring '19 CA-Modern magazine as ‘Eichler’s Last Stand,’  is virtually intact, and neighbors are neighborly.

Sales were slow back in the early days, original owner Herb Fischgrund says, with some houses not selling until 1976. It took more than two years to sell 30 houses. Prices were lowered to move the homes, he says.

But today such history is largely forgotten. Los Arboles Addition, which adjoins an earlier Eichler tract simply called ‘Los Arboles,’ is a friendly place where many people – especially those on Torreya Court, a cul-de-sac and the innermost section of the tract – know each other well.

“Everybody pretty much does take care of each other,” says Michael Montegut, a 16-year resident who has been raising two children here with his wife. “People visit when someone is sick. They help their neighbors who are elderly. It feels like a real neighborhood.”

The Addition is a compact neighborhood, with most homes facing Torreya Court, but some face Middlefield Road and Loma Verde Avenue.

“There are friendly people on the court, but we’re not in and out of each others’ houses every day,” neighbor Arlene Holloway says.

Making Los Arboles Addition distinctive – besides the wonderful, large late models, and mature trees – is that it is one of only a handful of Eichler neighborhoods to have original two-story homes.

It may be the only neighborhood where these homes were not built to provide enough living space on lots that were challenged by steep topography. The topography at Los Arboles is flat.

In general, the two-stories fit in well with other homes in the neighborhood – though sometimes trees and vegetation have been brought into the mix to add privacy.

The neighborhood also has a model with a very unusual atrium – surrounded entirely by interior living space, instead of being an entry courtyard.

The folks in the neighborhood keep their homes mostly original both inside and out. Only one has been changed in a way that really compromises its Eichler looks from the exterior.

Like a few other neighbors, Arlene and David Holloway added a retractable cover to the atrium in their striking two-story Eichler. “It often gets windy in the evening. It’s not that comfortable in the backyard, but this is a nice place to sit where you don’t get the wind,” Arlene says of the atrium.

Neighbors Pradipta Ghosh and Herb Fischgrund chat.

Their interior is warm and attractive, with traditional furnishings that work well with the architecture. “There’s something very strong about the architecture of the house. It’s coherent, and we like that,” Arlene says.

Also charming, with traditional furnishings, is the home of original buyers Richard and Beverly Martin, who still have their original Dutch front door, original ceiling, interior paneling, and original globe lights.

“We were looking very hard at traditional houses outside of Palo Alto and decided we liked this one. We liked the style,” Richard says.

John and Renata Tong, who moved to the neighborhood in 2005, have a much more modern interior – more modern than when the home was new. Their kitchen is sleek and completely open, and steel beams were added to make up for the loss of a wall.

A great fish tank fills a portion of one wall.

But the flavor of their Eichler is intact, if not all the details remain. “It’s lucky the previous owner didn’t paint the ceiling,” John says.

Chet Sandberg, an original owner of a two-story Eichler, enjoys his large, quarter-acre backyard that includes a pool and a pool house that is often used for entertaining.  He managed to expand what was a smaller lot when a home behind his burned down many years ago. (It was not an Eichler.)

John and Renata Tong enjoy life with their family and family dog and an aquarium filled with fish in their updated Eichler interior.

Sandberg and a neighbor bought the lot and each incorporated a portion of it into their own properties.

Inside, Sandberg has some cool, original mid-century modern furniture.

Herb Fischgrund,  one of the foundation stones of the neighborhood, has kept the home he shared with his late wife largely original and still loves it. "We did a little remodeling in the kitchen, and that’s about it,” he says.

 “I get good vibes here,” Herb says. “I like the layout. The fourth bedroom I've used as a study since moving into the house.”

For more on the fine folks in Los Arboles Addition, read 'Eichler’s Last Stand,' a sneak preview of the new spring ’19 issue of CA-Modern.

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