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Greendell/Walnut Grove


In a search for two of Palo Alto's lost neighborhoods — Walnut Grove and Greendell — a yellowed page from the June 26, 1980, edition of the Palo Alto Weekly verifies the existence of one.

The paper sits folded open on a table in the Palo Alto Main Library. The article — found after sifting through numerous news clippings, home brochures and city documents — gives an overview of all the neighborhoods in Palo Alto.

Walnut Grove is listed, but Greendell is not.

Edel Young, a resident of Greendell, described neighborhood creation as an evolutionary event. Boundaries can change as groups of people become friends and associates, she said. Greendell is an example of a neighborhood formed informally by the neighbors.

Young keeps and updates the Greendell map, which has phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and the names of everyone on Ferne and Dake avenues.

"In the case of Greenmeadow," she said, "a formal agreement was established at the time the houses were built and this agreement related to ownership and maintenance of the swimming pool, club house and adjacent property."

"We can't become members of Greenmeadow," Tom Crystal, president of the nearby Walnut Grove Homeowners Association, said.

According to the Greenmeadow Community Association Web site, outside residents can become associate members, which allows them to use the swimming pool. Although they pay the same fee as Greenmeadow residents, they can't participate in activities held by the association, join committees or vote on neighborhood issues.

With Greendell, Greenmeadow and Walnut Grove all occupying the area enclosed by Alma Street, San Antonio Road, Middlefield Road and East Charleston Road, outsiders could mistake them for one large neighborhood, especially since Eichlers dominate the area.

Defining Greendell's boundaries is difficult. Even the origin of the name remains a mystery to residents — the uncertainty on whether the tract or the school had the name first.

The boundaries include the tract of four-bedroom Eichlers, built in 1956, on Ferne Avenue, Dake Avenue and San Antonio Road, said Wendy Ng, a resident of Greendell and a professor at San Jose State University.

"However, our neighborhood map has included homes on Dake Avenue and Christopher Court that are not Eichlers," Ng said.

Years ago, whether children attended Ohlone and Greendell school was thought of as a dividing line between the neighborhoods, Young said, when asked if Calcaterra Place belonged in Greendell. But according to the neighborhood map, Ng said, Calcaterra is not part of the neighborhood.

Today, all the children attend Fairmeadow Elementary School.

Walnut Grove, a former walnut orchard, resides in the northwest corner partitioned by Adobe Creek; a bridge allows people to walk or bike to Greenmeadow.

News clippings indicate the neighborhood began as a tract developed by Burke & Wyatt in 1953. The company had plans to develop a $3.5 million tract with contemporary houses ranging from $16,000 to $17,000.

Shirley Nanevicz, a resident of Walnut Grove, said she wasn't sure if the company went broke or gave up, "but Eichler had finished the area where he [Burke & Wyatt had started."

The difference between Greenmeadow and Walnut Grove, Crystal said, "is we don't have a lot of committees. We don't have a lot of resources, like a swimming pool. We're a little downscale from them.

"But, boy, there's good cooperation and good feelings between the neighborhoods."


CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Discovery Children's House - Montessori, 303 Parkside Drive; Palo Alto Infant Toddler Center, 4111 Alma St.; Peninsula Day Care Center, 525 San Antonio Road; Redwood Enrichment Center, 445 E. Charleston Road

FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road

LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road

NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Walnut Grove Homeowners Association, Tom Crystal, president, 650-493-3276

PARKS: Greenmeadow Park (private); Mitchell Park (nearby), 600 East Meadow Drive

POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS (NEARBY): Palo Alto Prep School, 4000 Middlefield Road; Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, 450 and 470 San Antonio Road

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Fairmeadow Elementary School, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School

SHOPPING: Charleston Center, San Antonio Shopping Center

MEDIAN 2008 HOME PRICE: Greendell: $1,495,000 ($1,430,000-$1,795,000); Walnut Grove: $1,428,000

HOMES SOLD: Greendell: 3; Walnut Grove: 1

MEDIAN 2008 CONDO PRICE: Greendell: $905,000 ($696,000-$931,500); Walnut Grove: $752,500 ($750,000-$755,000)

CONDOS SOLD: Greendell: 5; Walnut Grove: 2

View the neighborhood map (PDF)

— Richard To

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