The B'game Historical Society held its quarterly meeting on Thursday night and drew a Standing Room Only crowd to the Lane Room at the library. Staff brought in an additional row of chairs that were snapped up immediately and it remained SRO until the end. What was the attraction? Eichlers.
I've highlighted B'game's cluster of Eichlers before but the new draw was Menlo Park realtor-turned-developer Monique Lombardelli who brought her video documentary about the history, evolution and community spirit that lives on in Eichler neighborhoods around the Bay Area. As the link points out
Lombardelli’s filming at one house, an important place to Joe Eichler, led to an exciting development. That was the Bazett House, in Hillsborough, the Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian home that Eichler rented from 1943 to 1945. It was here that Eichler first felt the power of modern architecture. Inspired, he began building modern tract homes a few years later.
Today, Lombardelli lives in the Bazett House just as Eichler did, renting a portion of it from the family that has owned it since 1945. “I want to live here,” she told the owners.
Monique noted that there are about 100 Eichlers in B'game and about 900 in San Mateo with about 11,000 spread throughout the Bay Area. The post-WWII housing crisis when demand outstripped supply from returning soldiers and materials shortages led Eichler to evolve his designs. As Wikipedia notes
Eichler homes are from a branch of Modernist architecture that has come to be known as "California Modern," and typically feature glass walls, post-and-beam construction, and open floorplans in a style indebted to Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. Eichler Homes exteriors featured flat and/or low-sloping A-Framed roofs, vertical 2-inch pattern wood siding, and spartan facades with clean geometric lines. One of Eichler's signature concepts was to "Bring the Outside In," achieved via skylights and floor-to-ceiling glass windows with glass transoms looking out on protected and private outdoor rooms, patios, atriums, gardens, and swimming pools.
Monique is now in planning mode to build some Eichler-style houses herself on a 3.2 acre plot in Portola Valley. I wish her luck and appreciate the knowledge the video gave to the 100+ attendees.