|Palo Alto Online Real Estate
Uploaded: Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 11:39 AM
Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 1:31 PM
|When wealthy farmer and landowner Alexander Gordon from San Mateo County purchased a 120-acre tract of land in 1887, he named its streets after illustrious American colleges and universities, giving birth to College Terrace.
The neighborhood, with its vast streets, fragrant gardens and pastiche of architectural styles, is "the most neighborhoody neighborhood in Palo Alto," said homebuilder William Hurt, former vice president of the College Terrace Residents' Association (CTRA) and a resident of 56 years.
"Everybody knows everybody else. It's also small unlike Midtown, which is generic."
With its four modest parks, labyrinth of blocked-off streets and collection of childcare centers, College Terrace is notoriously kid-friendly. Children and parents can be spotted hand-in-hand on summery Friday afternoons, strolling past old houses with towers and side gables in the Queen Anne style, and quaint English cottages. The neighborhood's most ancient dwelling, 2310 Yale St., was built in 1889. The Victorian house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The community was not always dominated by youth, however. "One huge change occurred in the early '80s," Maggie Heath, a resident since 1973, said. "In the '70s there appeared to be few young children but lots of Stanford undergraduates. Accommodation on campus was only available for three of their four years and College Terrace was ideal, plenty of funky old low-rent cottages and houses available. But as Stanford built more dorms the students began to disappear, plus rents were going up.
"Beginning in the early 1980s, babies and toddlers started to appear, including my own. Since then the number of young children has continued to increase as more and more families make College Terrace their home."
Escondido Elementary School, with its bilingual English and Spanish program, is also a draw for children in the neighborhood. "At 8 a.m. it's a virtual caravan of kids and parents off to school and work," Hurt said. Summer block parties and community picnics at Dartmouth Park, as well as a mass Easter egg hunt, are organized annually.
College Terrace remains "one of the hottest neighborhoods in Palo Alto," Hurt said. "People always come back. Many Stanford graduates who stayed here when they were going to school move back here with their families. I think it's because the neighborhood has charm. It's eclectic and extremely quiet. It's just evolved that way."
College Terrace is a family-oriented community with its own idiosyncratic spirit. "One thing is for sure," Heath said. "With all the new families moving into the neighborhood, College Terrace will continue to be a vibrant and well-loved neighborhood for many years to come."
-- Daniela Reichelstein
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: College Terrace Children's Center, 2300 Wellesley Ave.; Bing Nursery School, 850 Escondido Road; Escondido Kids' Club, 890 Escondido Road; Pepper Tree After School Program, 865 Escondido Road
FIRE STATION: No. 2, 2675 Hanover St. and No. 6, 711 Serra St. on the Stanford campus
LIBRARY: College Terrace, 2300 Wellesley St.
LOCATION: bounded by Stanford Avenue, El Camino Real, California Avenue and Amherst Street
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: College Terrace Residents' Association, Brent Barker, president
PARKS: Donaldina Cameron Park, 2100 Wellesley St.; Mayfield Park, 2300 Wellesley St.; Weisshaar Park, 2298 Dartmouth St.; Werry Park, 2100 Dartmouth St.
POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Escondido Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School
SHOPPING: California Avenue
MEDIAN 2011 HOME PRICE: $1,125,000 ($630,000-$2,494,500)
HOMES SOLD: 12
MEDIAN 2011 CONDO PRICE: $820,000
CONDOS SOLD: 1
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