Hobbies Add to the Mix in Monta Loma

DelGaudio family
Bryce and Ashton were invited on play dates even before they moved into their Eichler in Mountain View's Monta Loma, a move that typifies the neighborhood's friendliness. Here they play while parents Michael and Tricia DelGaudio look on. Photo by Sabina Huang

Hobbies were big in the mid-1950s when Joe Eichler built 200 homes in Monta Loma in Mountain View. They still are, and many hobbyists – from knitters to stargazers – get together out of shared interests, helping turn the tract into a friendly place indeed, as revealed in ‘Loma Living’ in the new summer ‘21 issue of CA-Modern magazine.

Monta Loma is a place where residents wear caps inscribed ‘Monta Loma,’ and form knitting, garden, and bike clubs. The very active Monta Loma Neighborhood Association publicizes the various hobby groups in its newsletter, one of the best Eichler-tract publications anywhere.

Many people use their hobbies to reach out to neighbors even without starting formal organizations.

  Tom Pucell
Tom Purcell sets up historical displays about his neighborhood at community events. Photo by Dave Weinstein
 

Tom Purcell uses his interest in local history to reveal much about the history of the Eichers in his neighborhood. He has researched the history, and prepared fascinating displays that show the tract was built on a former airport, and that architects Jones & Emmons originally had proposed a much more daring design – one that arrayed homes along a greenbelt.

Dotty Calabrese is a weaver – though her weaving is more a profession than a hobby. For hobbies she has birdwatching and stargazing. She has led birdwatching events with neighbors, and an eclipse viewing too. "Most people in the neighborhood know me as the bird lady because I’m always walking around with my binoculars when I’m walking my dogs,” she says.

You often hear Monta Loma neighbors speak of their admiration for their hobbyist and artistic neighbors.

“Dotty is awesome,” says Tricia DelGaudio, a relative newcomer who is president of the association. “She’s an artist, she made custom scarves for my mom. She’s great.“

  Dotty Calabrese
Textile artist Dotty Calabrese contributes much to the community thanks to her art and her interest in birds and astronomy. Courtesy of Dotty Calabrese
 

Tricia tells of another couple, longtime homeowners: “He knows everything. You want to fix something? He knows how to do it.”

“His wife started a neighborhood seed library. It’s a lovely thing. There’s a filing cabinet in front of their house and you can take or leave seeds.”

Heather and Apo have bees,” she says of another couple, Heather and Apollinaris Schoell. “They make the neighborhood honey.”

Some people’s interests go beyond hobbies to the political. Joan MacDonald, who arrived at Monta Loma when John F. Kennedy was seeking the presidency, helped him out in that effort. (As did Joe Eichler himelf.)

House
The Eichlers of Monta Loma are on the small side and are well preserved in the main. Photo by Dave Weinstein

“John F. Kennedy was in the primary in June, and I volunteered to get out the vote,” MacDonald recalls. “There were three people on the registration list who hadn’t voted in the neighborhood. Only three. That is kind of fantastic. And two had moved away and the third had died. Every single registered voter in Monta Loma had voted. That’s pretty special.”

To this day MacDonald, a teacher who for a time served on local school boards, is deeply involved with issues of housing and social justice, and with electoral politics. “I walk my precinct every election for the people and issues I care about,” she says. “So I’ve  met lots of the new people. They seem quite open. Our precinct tends to vote pretty progessive in every election.”

Mountain View, often called 'Googleville' because of the tech giant's presence with several campuses, is a sprawling city of 83,000 with many immense rental and condo complexes. Yet Monta Loma, with a total of about 1,000 homes, has a small-town feeling.

The tract was built by three developers, all in a mid-century modern style. Besides the Eichler tract, which Joe originally dubbed ‘Fairview,’ and the ‘Oakwood’ section of Mackay homes, the neighborhood includes ‘Mardell Manor,’ built by the Mardell Building Company.

Fall foliage
Monta Loma is a great neighborhood for strolling, thanks in part to its canopy of trees that provide beautiful fall foliage, as above. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Despite the differences in houses, the neighborhood is unified. “When I say Monta Loma, it’s the whole neighborhood. We are one,” DelGaudio says.

Homes by all three of the developers are small – the Eichlers originally about 1,100 square feet. But buyers are happy to pay $2 million for them because Google and other tech employees are nearby.

(Google’s self-driving unit is adjacent to the neighborhood and self-driving cars use Monta Loma's streets as testing grounds.)

People buying in the neighborhood also appreciate the architecture. The Eichlers remain largely intact, as seen from the street.

The neighborhood school is a short walk from homes, and a major social force and attraction for young families.

“Every time a house goes up for sale somebody with younger children moves in,” Tricia says. “You constantly see children biking, on their little scooters, with dogs.”

For more about the Monta Loma Eichlers, make sure to read ‘Loma Living,’ a sneak preview of the new summer ‘21 issue of CA-Modern magazine.

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