Duveneck / St. Francis | March 5, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - March 5, 2010

Duveneck / St. Francis

A welcoming community, safe streets and 'small-town environment'

by Martin Sanchez

Barbara Wolfe and her husband Elliott wanted to settle down after moving around the country for many years, and after one visit to Palo Alto in 1970, she remembers thinking, "This is it. ... This is home."

Forty years, three re-models and many memories later, they still live in their home on Madison Avenue.

Margot Lockwood-Stein and her husband Tom Stein came to Duveneck in 2007 in search of a neighborhood where their children Ben and Katherine could safely play outside. They were attracted to the canopy of trees that surrounded their eventual home on Walter Hays Drive and appreciate how the neighborhood gives their children access to "great schools all the way 'til high school," Lockwood-Stein said.

"We had bid on a similar (house) a year before, so I knew Margot would love it," Stein said.

These two families' experiences provide insight into daily life in Duveneck and the shared experiences that bring its residents together.

Socializing on Duveneck's streets and sidewalks is very important to both families. The houses in the Steins' corner of the neighborhood are "really attractive" and well-kept, Lockwood-Stein said, and minimal traffic makes their street a safe, active social hub.

"We'll take a walk around the loop and the kids will all be playing, and we'll be hanging out with the grown-ups," Lockwood-Stein said.

The Steins also enjoy wandering slightly further afield. Their children spend a lot of time at Eleanor Pardee Park, and Stein, an avid tennis player, appreciates Duveneck's proximity to the courts at Rinconada Park.

Wolfe described "Eleanor" Park as an especial "delight." Palo Alto's abundance of child-friendly facilities — including the Children's Library and the Junior Museum & Zoo, both of which are within walking distance from Duveneck — impressed her during her first visit to the city, she said.

However, frequent traffic on her street discourages many of her neighbors from walking around the neighborhood and socializing, she said. Turning nearby Edgewood Plaza shopping center into a "community hub" would help solve this problem, she said.

For now, she walks her dog daily and enjoys meeting people who are out with their own pets. She and her friends also take weekly walks to University Avenue and Town & Country shopping center —Duveneck's closest commercial districts.

The Steins wanted to move to Palo Alto because of its excellent school system, Lockwood-Stein said. She and her husband are thankful that five of their neighbors have children in the same grade at Duveneck Elementary as their son.

"Both of us grew up in the same group of kids through high school, and we knew how beneficial that could be," he said.

Wolfe's memories of Green Gables, as Duveneck Elementary was called until 1982, are more colorful.

"In the '70s, everything was, you know, hanging loose," she said.

Wolfe's daughter Laura, who started attending Green Gables as a first grader, said that she and her classmates were seated in a circle by their teacher — "with all the heads pressed together" — and taught the principles of group meditation.

She also recalled a teacher who lived in the neighborhood and often sat outside in his car — a large convertible with a steer's horns mounted on the hood — to greet passing students.

"It was nice to go over there and say hi," she said.

Laura Wolfe moved back to Duveneck with her husband Daniel Cher in 1998 after leaving for college years before. The couple bid on many Palo Alto houses but ended up on Iris Lane — a street about five blocks from Barbara Wolfe's — where they now live with their daughters Emma and Clara.

"The school is better since I was here. ... There are teacher's aides and more parent involvement," she said.

Moving to Duveneck can be difficult. Lockwood-Stein said that Duveneck's high real estate prices make living there "a very big financial decision" and that their current house is significantly smaller than the San Mateo house they lived in beforehand.

But "the neighborhood is so great, it was worth it," Stein said.

Barbara Wolfe is just glad to have found a quiet neighborhood with "tight community bonds (and) friendly neighbors," she said.

"The beauty is we have created a small-town environment in the larger environment of the Peninsula," she said.


For more Home and Real Estate news, visit www.paloaltoonline.com/real_estate.


CHILDCARE AND PRESCHOOLS: Duveneck Kids' Club, 705 Alester Ave.

FIRE STATION: No. 3, 799 Embarcadero Road

LIBRARY: Main Library, 1213 Newell Road

LOCATION: Bounded by San Francisquito Creek, Oregon Expressway, Greer Road, Embarcadero Road and Newell Road


Karen White, 650-494-7026, KarenWhite4@sbcglobal.net

PARKS (NEARBY): Eleanor Pardee Park, 851 Center Drive; Rinconada Park, 777 Embarcadero Road

POST OFFICE: Main, 2085 E. Bayshore Road

PRIVATE SCHOOLS (NEARBY): International School of the Peninsula, 151 Laura Lane; St. Elizabeth Seton, 1095 Channing Ave.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Duveneck Elementary School, Jordan Middle School, Palo Alto High School

SHOPPING: Edgewood Shopping Center (to be renovated); University Avenue

Editorial Intern Martin Sanchez can be e-mailed at msanchez@paweekly.com.


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