When the "Silver King of the Comstock Lode," James C. Flood, used part of his reported $18-million fortune to purchase 600 acres off Middlefield Road, he built Linden Towers, a 44-room, three story home. He adorned his 1878 estate house with towers, gables and cupolas and furnished with exotic treasures from around the world. Fittingly, all the plumbing fixtures were sterling silver.
Between 1937 and 1955, the area now known as Lindenwood was developed after the death of Flood's son. But Flood's presence still presides over the neighborhood.
Many of the artifacts from the estate, which was torn down in 1934 — fountains, statues, street lights — still exist, in some cases, on private properties. "The town has an ordinance requiring owners to obtain a conditional use permit if they want to take action on any item listed in the town register," says Philip Lively, a board member of the Lindenwood Homes Association.
Lindenwood has retained its private estate atmosphere because it is totally enclosed. There are two gates on Middlefield Road and one on Frederick Avenue. Lindenwood's lanes, avenues and roads twist and meander. James Avenue, the "Main Street," is one of its few straight streets.
"It's like living in an arboretum," Irene DeVivo says. She and her husband Douglas built their home 19 years ago and raised their children there. "It's very safe because anyone coming in to do harm would probably get lost," she says, referring to the maze-like configuration.
"I know at least five people who grew up here and want to raise their kids here," she adds.
One such person is Carol Collins, who moved back to Lindenwood with her husband Evan 13 years ago. Now her modern, light-filled home is filled with the energy of three daughters.
Growing up in Lindenwood, Ms. Collins is still surrounded by people from her childhood. "My parents still live in the home I was raised in. My daughter has a friend around the corner who is the grandchild of my parent's neighbors," Ms. Collins says.
The Lindenwood Homes Association is active in the neighborhood, and Ms Collins has served on the board of directors. The association takes care of such things as repairing the gates and maintaining the plantings in the public areas, according to Mr. Lively. "We also have communication with neighboring Menlo-Atherton High School regarding lighting and noise control," he says.
Mr. Lively estimates 60 percent of the 400 homes belong to the association, each paying $40 annual membership dues.
The major neighborhood event is the annual fall meeting, attended by 150 people this year. "We also have all kinds of informal get-togethers, like Young Family Coffees four times a year, and cocktail parties," Ms. Collins says.
How does she feel about all the tear-downs and mushrooming estates? "The lots are big enough so that the homes have to be set back, and they always re-landscape," she says, indicating the arborescent setting prevails.
CHILD CARE & PRESCHOOLS: The Playschool, Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave., Atherton
FIRE STATION: 300 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Lindenwood Homes Association, Philip Lively, president, 650-328-7660
PARK: Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave., Atherton
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Menlo Park City Elementary School District —Laurel School, 95 Edge Road, Atherton; Encinal School, 195 Encinal Ave., Menlo Park; 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 2008 HOME PRICE: $3,605,000 ($2,450,000-$8,400,000)
HOMES SOLD: 14