by Marion Hohlfeld
When Betty and Jim Krahenbuhl first purchased their Charleston Gardens home in 1973, they had no idea that it would eventually be their place of retirement.
"My husband's job took us far away to Louisiana after living in the neighborhood for 10 years," Betty said. "In summer 2013 we returned because we just missed it so much."
"The location and its people are just amazing," echoed Amelia Stone, a stay-at-home mother of two who also lives in the neighborhood. "We have a lot of kids and grandparents here."
Stone said that in Charleston Gardens, everyone is looking out for each other and that people are very caring and supportive in this suburban-feel area.
These are some of the reasons why people love Charleston Gardens. The neighborhood is its own quiet little world enclosed by East Charleston, Middlefield and San Antonio roads. Residents, however, value its proximity to the freeway as well as shopping possibilities within five minutes of walking (Charleston Shopping Center) or driving (Costco and Target).
All of this appealed to Aaron Lee and his family, who moved to Palo Alto from San Francisco in August 2013. With two children in elementary school, he said that the family was attracted to the area's excellent schools and their diverse student bodies.
Peter Squire, who moved to Palo Alto in 1982, said Charleston Gardens has been home to a few local notables: Former San Francisco 49ers legend Bill Walsh owned a rental house there, which he made available for his football players. And just across the street from Squire's home, he said that Yahoo founder Charles Yang developed software in a small mother-in-law cottage in the back of the house.
Today, the neighborhood is characterized by a mixture of seniors and younger families. The Krahenbuhls said that "it changed for the better," referring to a healthier age mix of old and young tenants.
In order to keep everyone up-to-date about current neighborhood events, news and emergency preparedness, neighborhood association leader George Browning created a mailing list about 10 years ago and sends out a newsletter whenever important information needs to be passed on. Residents said this provides a place for neighbors to both connect and learn about events.
One of these events is an annual block party that usually takes place on Seminole Way; the whole street is blocked off for the party. The Lee family participated in their first block party in September 2013 and said they appreciated it, as they did not have similar events in San Francisco.
Amelia Stone also said that her family throws a mini block party in her cul-de-sac outside one person's home with snacks for everyone and games for the children a couple of times throughout the year.
CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS (nearby): Children's Pre-School Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, T-1; Good Neighbor Montessori, 4000 Middlefield Road, K4; Young Fives and PreSchool Family, 4120 Middlefield Road; T'enna Preschool (OFJCC), 3921 Fabian Way
FIRE STATION: No. 4, 3600 Middlefield Road
LIBRARY: Mitchell Park branch, 3700 Middlefield Road
LOCATION: bounded by Middlefield Road, East Charleston Road, Montrose Avenue, Sutherland Drive
PARK: Mitchell Park, 600 East Meadow Drive
POST OFFICE: Cambridge, 265 Cambridge Ave.; Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road
PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Challenger School, 3880 Middlefield Road; Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, 450 San Antonio Road; Kehillah Jewish High School, 3900 Fabian Way; Palo Alto Prep School, 4000 Middlefield Road, H-2
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Fairmeadow or Hoover elementary schools, J.L. Stanford Middle School, Gunn High School
SHOPPING: Charleston Center