Almost surrounded by Atherton, the small Menlo Park neighborhood of Felton Gables is named for the 1870s era estate on which it was built: the former home of Senator Charles Norton Felton.
Bordered by Holbrook Palmer Park, Encinal Avenue, and the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks, Felton Gables homes were built between the 1920s and 1950s. Because lots were built and sold individually, the neighborhood's 115 custom homes were built in an eclectic range of architectural styles, residents say.
"It doesn't feel like a cookie-cutter neighborhood and has nice winding streets," Gayle Blumberg, a resident since 1993, says. Home designs ranging from modern, Spanish villa, cottage and ranch styles to Craftsman and New England architecture dot the streets lined with mature oak, beech, maple and magnolia trees.
Diana Beuttler says each lot in Felton Gables, at an average size of 1/4 acre, housed a small home when she moved to the "enclosed neighborhood" in 1968 for its "convenient location and attractive homes." Felton Gables residents developed stricter zoning requirements which limit the size of second floor rebuilds, but many homes have since been rebuilt with second stories. The neighborhood now houses a mix of larger and smaller homes.
Despite architectural changes, residents say the area's secluded geography has meant for consistent camaraderie among residents and a general sense of neighborhood safety that draws up to two hundred Trick or Treaters each Halloween. "It's so inviting that at Halloween people across Menlo Park bring their children here because it's so small and safe," 36-year resident Barbara Wood says.
Residents say nearby Holbrook Palmer Park serves as an extended backyard for neighborhood children. and Encinal School makes Felton Gables attractive to people with families. While many original residents moved to the neighborhood seeking to downsize from large country lots in Atherton and Woodside, now younger families live alongside established residents.
"It's a very nice mix of older, middle-aged, and young families," Ms. Blumberg says. Community get-togethers are common, with the Felton Gables Homeowners' Association running a fall adult cocktail party, a general meeting in the spring, and a widely attended Fourth of July picnic complete with a children's parade and a range of barbeque fare.
Association dues are modest, but the board voted this year to donate a surplus to an organization representing community members on plans for High Speed Rail. Concerns about railroad expansion plans are widespread, as many residents on the railway border fear they could lose their properties to eminent domain.
Despite such concerns, turnover remains low, and residents say neighbors appreciate one another.
"It's really an incredibly friendly neighborhood," Ms. Beuttler says. Neighbors keep in touch on strolls through the shady streets of Felton Gables. "You know everyone in your own little pocket in the neighborhood, and people watch out for each other," Mrs. Wood adds.
-- Sarah Trauben
CHILD CARE & PRESCHOOLS: The Playschool, Holbrook Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave., Atherton; Trinity Early Childhood Program, 2650 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, Menlo Park
FIRE STATION: 32 Almendral Ave., Atherton
LOCATION: West of Southern Pacific Railroad tracks and south of Holbrook Palmer park, between Watkins and Encinal avenues
PARK: Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave., Atherton
Menlo Park City School District -- Laurel School, 95 Edge Road, Atherton; Encinal School, 195 Encinal Ave., Atherton; Hillview Middle School, 1100 Elder Ave., Menlo Park
Sequoia Union High School District -- Menlo-Atherton High School, 555 Middlefield Road, Atherton
SHOPPING: Downtown Menlo Park
MEDIAN 2010 HOME PRICE: $1,711,500 ($1,685,000-$1,738,000)
HOMES SOLD: 2
SHOPPING: Corner of Willow Road and Hamilton Avenue
MEDIAN 2012 HOME PRICE: $1,600,000 ($1,400,000-$1,800,000)
NO. OF HOMES SOLD: 2
MEDIAN 2012 CONDOMINIUM PRICE: $267,500 ($265,000-$270,000)
CONDOMINIUMS SOLD: 2