South Palo Alto is actually not a single neighborhood, but a collection of smaller neighborhoods, consisting of Adobe Meadow, Charleston Gardens, Greenmeadow, Monroe Park, Palo Verde and more. Although South Palo Alto itself is quite a large area, these small residential sections have many things in common—their modest lot sizes, their lovely parks and the abundance of Eichler-style homes, to name a few.
Joseph Eichler was a real estate developer who came to prominence in the mid-20th century, when he began contributing to tract housing developments in various parts of California. Eichler became famous for bringing the style of corporate modernity to traditional suburbia. A typical Eichler home would have glass walls, simple post-and-beam construction and an open floor plan, all of which would allow for a light and airy feel with a modern look. The exterior of the house might include flat or low-sloping roofs with wood siding, all laid out in clean, straight lines, so as not to detract from the overall simplicity of the design. Essentially, Eichler took a minimalist approach to an enormous project, which resulted in a surprisingly good-looking set of houses that are still sought after even today.
Such houses are plentiful in South Palo Alto, especially in the neighborhoods of Fairmeadow and Greenmeadow. These can be identified as Eichler developments not only by the style of the houses, but also by the careful planning that clearly went into the surrounding areas. Eichler considered himself a social visionary, putting sincere effort not only into designing houses, but also into making sure that his developments were both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Fairmeadow, for example, incorporates circular streets in order to reduce traffic and noise pollution and to keep the neighborhood serene. Similarly, Greenmeadow contains numerous cul-de-sacs, which Eichler believed would give residents privacy. The only downside of Eichler’s significant presence in South Palo Alto is that some places (like Greenmeadow) have been designated historic sites, and therefore cannot be significantly remodeled.
Luckily, Eichler homes are so unique compared to other architectural styles that most people don’t mind living among so many of them and many will seek them out. For those trying to find a home that’s unassumingly modest, yet intriguingly modern at the same time, South Palo Alto is an excellent place to look.