There’s no through traffic in Lindenwood. If you go in, you'll be coming out the same way. Once through the gates, remnants of the original Flood estate, one could easily get lost in the maze of streets or simply enjoy the peace and quiet.
Joan Sanders, her husband and two-plus children (ultimately, there would be five children raised in Lindenwood) were looking to leave San Francisco in 1970. The couple found Mill Valley too hilly, Orinda (with its new connection via BART) too expensive. Then a Realtor showed them a “terrible house” in a then-depressed area of Atherton. Looking out the window, a Rufus-spotted towhee ( a bird-lover’s dream) caught Sanders' eye and she was sold.
Nine remodels later, the family has retained the single story, common to the Hare, Brewer and Kelley development of the original 294 ranch-style homes, mostly built in the late 1940s. Now the Lindenwood Homes Association encompasses close to 500 homes, stretching the boundary to Ringwood Avenue.
Today, the sounds of constant construction can be heard, as ranch houses are being transformed into an eclectic mix of Tuscan, Etruscan, Southern French or black-and-white farmhouse, with a touch of the Hamptons, Mrs. Sanders points out on a tour.
“Atherton has no architectural review. If you are within the zoning regulations, you are free to put up what you want. It makes for good architectural texture,” she said.
Further remnants of the Flood estate a fountain, statue on a pedestal, urns, light post, low walls can be found in the 1-acre gardens; one resident simply cut a swath in the front hedge to enable her neighbors to see the fountain as they pass by, she said.
Despite the large size of the lots and the appearance of higher walls in front of newly built houses neighbors manage to see each other often while out walking their dogs (on leashes), gardening or just strolling along. They also get together for an annual homeowners' meeting, with refreshments and the Menlo-Atherton High School jazz band entertaining. The association addresses concerns about safety, with disaster preparedness a priority, as well as maintains landscaping around the gates, decorates for Christmas, monitors vacant houses to make sure pools cannot harbor mosquitoes while awaiting new construction and welcomes new residents, said Mrs. Sanders, who is vice president of the association.
Emily Hung and her husband Hao Chu chose Lindenwood in 2013 to be closer to her brother in Menlo Park. They had originally intended to remodel their rancher, but contractors and architects “incentivized” them to tear it down and start over, Mrs. Chu said.
Their new home took a year to build and was completed in 2016; it now includes a 5,000-square-foot home as well as a guest house. Before starting construction, the Chus knocked on their neighbors’ doors to introduce themselves and give a heads up about what was to come. The neighbors then introduced them to others.
Even before construction was complete, the Chus were invited to a cookie exchange to meet the neighbors. Once they moved in, they hosted the next exchange, she said.
“People are so friendly. We talk, we text, we have tea,” Mrs. Chu said.
The only down sides to Lindenwood that Mrs. Sanders sees are the popularity of high walls and gates that definitely discourage trick-or-treaters or door-to-door political canvassers.
“The new people have put up a lot of walls and fences, which leads to a bit more isolation,” she said.
Mrs. Chu hears bells and broadcasts from nearby Encinal School, but mostly finds the neighborhood quiet, green and peaceful.
“The pace here is a little bit slower, people are older. In Palo Alto, people were always busy,” she adds. “Mostly, we like it better than West Atherton. It’s walkable and people know each other. It’s like a community.”
-- Carol Blitzer, 2018
CHILD CARE & PRESCHOOLS: GeoKids Early Childhood Development Center, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park; Playschool at Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave., Atherton
FIRE STATION: 300 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park
LOCATION: Marsh Road, Ringwood Avenue, Bay Road and Middlefield Road
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Lindenwood Homes Association, [email protected]
PARK: Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave., Atherton
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Menlo Park City School District -- Encinal Elementary School, 195 Encinal Ave., Atherton, Laurel Elementary School Lower Campus, 95 Edge Road, Atherton, Laurel Elementary School Upper Campus, 275 Elliott Drive, 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