Whether they’ve been here just a few years or have lived in the neighborhood forever, residents agree that Allied Arts is a walkable, close-knit neighborhood.
Leslie Wallace and her husband Derek Clegg were living in Redwood City when they sought a home closer to work two years ago.
“We wanted to have a pleasant neighborhood to walk in. We walk all the time -- to Draeger's (for lunch), to downtown Palo Alto or Menlo Park, to the Stanford mall,” Clegg said.
“I’m a dog person and others recognize that. We stop to pet neighbors’ dogs,” Wallace said.
“We shopped at Sigona’s and Schaub’s for 15 years,” she said, calling her closer proximity “part of the bonus.”
They already knew their new neighborhood would be close to everything, but what surprised the couple was its neighborliness.
“When we first moved in, the van was coming and going, and we were going out to get something for dinner. We saw a group of people in the street (who) waved me over and introduced themselves. Then they started flagging down others. Later they arranged a cocktail party to meet everyone. We were in the other house for 15 years (without getting to know our neighbors),” Wallace said.
Soon new neighbors invited them to the annual block party and to join the book group, which has become somewhat of the social glue of Allied Arts.
“Our first Christmas here, we spent the eve with a neighbor, the day with the neighbor behind and Boxing Day with another neighbor. It was a lovely thing to be accepted so easily and quickly,” Wallace said.
About the only thing annoying them is the middle-of-the-night noise from the Life Flight helicopters en route to Stanford Hospital.
“You don’t think to ask about that before you buy,” Clegg said.
But they bring some neighborhood noise of their own, with their three chickens. “Our neighbors have liked their noises,” he said with a smile.
Several residents commented on the traffic on Cambridge Avenue, with people constantly making U-turns to head north on El Camino Real after leaving Stanford Shopping Center.
“Traffic is crappy, but it’s not the worst thing,” Clegg said.
Architecture in Allied Arts is pretty eclectic, with a lot of teardowns of older homes mostly built in the 1920s and ’30s.
Avery and Marc Olesen have lived in Allied Arts since 2003. With two kids and one on the way, the location “just made sense,” Avery said, especially with its walking distance to downtown and biking distance to school.
“We lived in Los Altos, but my husband wanted Woodside and I wanted Palo Alto,” Avery said.
Growing up in Palo Alto, Avery “remembered Allied Arts from childhood, with its glass blower, candle maker and wood shop.”
Opened in 1929, the Allied Arts Guild on Arbor Road still attracts tourists and locals to the numerous shops, artists’ studios, gardens and a tea room that raises money for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.
Fifteen years ago there were “a lot of young families,” Avery said, but there’s been more turnover than expected. They’ve watched friends move away and build bigger houses ,0x2014> tempting with their now four daughters, age 11 through 19. But the Olesens are happy staying put.
“It’s very quaint. At first, we were drawn to the diversity. We felt fortunate to live here, with lots of kids on the street,” she says.
Avery noted that people come from all over to experience the Allied Arts Halloween extravaganza, with its blocked-off street and potluck with roasted hot dogs.
“It’s a wholesome, caring neighborhood. We take care of each other,” she said.
Carol Blitzer, 2018
CHILD CARE & PRESCHOOLS: Menlo-Atherton Cooperative Nursery School, 802 Middle Ave.
FIRE STATION: 700 Oak Grove Ave., Menlo Park
LOCATION: between El Camino Real and Arbor Road, from Middle Avenue to San Francisquito Creek
PARK: Nealon Park, 800 Middle Ave.
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Menlo Park City School District -- Oak Knoll School, 1895 Oak Lane, 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, Stanford Shopping Center, Allied Arts Guild