After a few years of searching, Bill and Lee Schroeder found a place with a story and character for their family to call home in the Atherton Oaks neighborhood. Mr. Schroeder says that Mrs. Schroeder did most of the searching and picked their new place because she "fell in love with the house."
"I wanted a house with history," Mrs. Schroeder says. "It's a grand house but has a coziness to it."
The property dates back to 1906 when it was designed by Willis Polk, who also designed the Filoli estate and other Bay Area buildings. At more than 10,000 square feet, the house's grandness is apparent. At the time it was built, it sat on 18 acres and had ponies and one of the first swimming pools in the area, Mrs. Schroeder says. Today, the lot is down to 1 acre, which is more common for the neighborhood.
These estates were originally built because of their proximity to the railroad tracks and early-20th-century San Francisco residents' desire to escape the fog of the city.
"They could ride down and enjoy time in their country homes," Mrs. Schroeder says.
Through the years, the Schroeders have welcomed past residents into their home to hear stories about what it was like to live in the home in the 1900s. Some visitors were members of a family with 15 children, who used to journey down from the city to spend time in the more rural setting.
"They had two big boards with schedules so they could keep everyone's schedule straight," Mrs. Schroeder says.
Mrs. Schroeder's daughter worked on a related project while attending Castilleja School in Palo Alto. She dug through the archives and came across a Castilleja alumna who lived in the home. By reaching out to living family members, she learned the swimming pool tidbit and that a wedding was once held in the living room.
"It's like we can see the footprints of the other people who have lived here," Mrs. Schroeder says.
Since the Schroeder family moved in more than a quarter of a century ago, they have also hosted special events, such as fundraisers, to continue the home's history.
Just outside of the blocks of Atherton Oaks, its residents are able to easily explore the community. This includes strolling to the train station on the weekends, as well as going to the library, city hall, schools and Holbrook-Palmer Park. At the park, Homer Field at Willie Mays Ballpark opened in May 2015. The field is named after Atherton resident Willie Mays and Mike Homer, who donated much of the money for the park's original field.
"It's like a small version of a big ballpark," Mr. Schroeder says.
The Schroeders enjoy trips to the park with their grandchildren, who play on the playground. They also hop aboard the train on the weekend with friends to go have dinner in Palo Alto, and they look forward to even more walkable locations with the new town center on the way.
There's also activity in the neighborhood itself, with residents holding block parties from time to time, including a holiday leftovers party.
"It's a wonderful, elegant neighborhood," Mrs. Schroeder says, "We feel very comfortable." -- Brenna Malmberg
CHILD CARE & PRESCHOOLS: The Playschool, 150 Watkins Ave., Atherton
FIRE STATION: 300 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park
LOCATION: between Laurel Street and the Caltrain tracks and Middlefield Road, from Glenwood Avenue to Encinal Avenue and Watkins Avenue to Fair Oaks Lane
PARK: Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave., Atherton
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Menlo Park City 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