Take a bike ride down Louis Road in the heart of Palo Verde and you'll notice a recurring motif. Geometric planes and simple silhouettes of Eichler houses, one after the other, under the comfortable tree cover.
Originally sold for about $15,000, these homes coined by Joseph Eichler in the 1950s now sell for more than $1 million. Eichler "brought the outside in" through skylights, retractable roofs and floor-to-ceiling windows combined with open floor plans. The unconventional design featuring low-sloping roofs and few street-facing windows became known as "California modern," a subset of mid-century modern.
Lynn Drake, a resident of Palo Verde since 1997, is a happy owner of an Eichler, having renovated it in 2004 to update the kitchen, flooring and electricity.
Two doors down, newer resident Udita Bhattacharya's home is in the midst of a similar renovation. She and her husband sought an Eichler home for two years -- and bid on eight different houses -- before sealing the purchase of their house on Louis Road in 2012.
"We love, love, love Eichlers. ... We're really into light and the indoor-outdoor (idea)," Bhattacharya said in her sunlit living room. A book on Eichler homes rested on a table next to her.
Drake and Bhattacharya live across the street from Palo Verde Elementary, a center of the neighborhood community -- dogs included. Bhattacharya brings her dog there on Sunday mornings to join a playgroup with other dogs 6 to 25 pounds, she said.
A block away is another neighborhood center -- the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club, opened in 1958 with Eichler himself cutting the ribbon. The club's large swimming pool and four tennis courts make it a popular gathering place for families with school-age kids.
"All our friends are there," Drake said of barbecue gatherings at the club every Friday evening.
Her two kids grew up swimming on the club team, the Eichler Gators, while Bhattacharya and her husband just became members.
The Eichler Club celebrated a grand reopening in June after long-awaited completion of a pool-deck renovation project, including complete replacement of the deck, resurfacing of the pool and construction of an ADA-approved wading pool. The project was featured on the Eichler Network website, a home base for Eichler enthusiasts.
"It took a lot of community volunteers to come together," said Drake, a member of the committee that selected the contractor and architects. The team sought an architect with appreciation for the club's original Eichler architecture.
Residents also frequent Mitchell Park and Library, the Ross Road YMCA and Cubberley Community Center. A dog playgroup with larger dogs meets at Ramos Park each evening.
Knowing your neighbors, young and old, is an understatement in Palo Verde. Block parties liven up the streets during the summer months, and during Thanksgiving season, a group of neighbors organizes a 5K "Turkey Trot" fun run. Bhattacharya recounted the warm welcome she received as a new resident, returning home one day to find fruit and baked goods by her front door.
"It's a strong neighborhood," Drake said. "If (my kids) needed anything, they could knock on anyone's door."
"Everyone looks out for each other," Bhattacharya added.
Neighbors can even borrow books from a small kiosk at the intersection of Louis Road and Loma Verde Avenue, part of the worldwide Little Free Library book exchange movement. "There are these amazing things we discover," Bhattacharya said.
Palo Verde's nearby shopping plazas and easy access to Highway 101 make it a practical location to live in as well. According to Drake and her family, the neighborhood is about half new families and half longtime residents.
"You get to know people in all walks of life," Bhattacharya said.
-- Christina Dong
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Palo Verde Kids' Club, 3450 Louis Road
FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road
LIBRARY: Mitchell Park Library, 4050 Middlefield Road
LOCATION: between Loma Verde Avenue and East Meadow Drive, Middlefield and West Bayshore roads
NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION: Palo Verde Resident's Association, Boris Foelsch, [email protected], groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/palo_verde_ra/info
PARKS (nearby): Don Jesus Ramos Park, 800 E. Meadow Drive; J. Pearce Mitchell Park, 600 E. Meadow Drive; Henry W. Seale Park, 3100 Stockton Place
POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road; 265 Cambridge Avenue
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: The Girls' Middle School, 3400 W. Bayshore Road
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Palo Verde Elementary School, Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School
RECREATION: Palo Alto Family YMCA, 3412 Ross Road; Eichler Swim and Tennis Club, 3539 Louis Road
SHOPPING: Midtown Shopping Center, Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue; also Middlefield Road at Loma Verde Avenue