Fairview Plaza feels like a step back in time – and in many ways, it is. This little neighborhood is so quaint and unique that it seems perfect for a movie set. Located close to downtown and equally close to huge expanses of open space, it enjoys its own park, has an interesting history and is enough off the beaten path that it goes largely undisturbed.
In 1880, Frank McCullough came to Los Gatos and bought 166 acres of prime real estate. From that land, in 1915 he donated a parcel to become a park, now Fairview Plaza Park. At one time it included playground equipment and a bird sanctuary too. Today it’s a little more congested with cars on the street, but it’s still quite pleasant. This little park is the heart of the neighborhood.
Have a look at the video that Clair and I did in 2014 to get a feel for the area, then continue reading for more info on this corner of Los Gatos.
The Glenridge and Bachman Park neighborhood of Los Gatos is one of the most scenic residential areas anywhere in Silicon Valley. It features beautiful, custom, mostly historic homes on meandering streets.
Set just above the Almond Grove neighborhood on a gentle hill it, too, is close to town but with a little more altitude and better vistas. The other nearby neighbor is the Fairview Plaza. So much history in such a close area!
These are really two separate neighborhoods or districts, but they are similar in many ways and are directly adjacent to each other, so we are covering them together.
Bachman Park is set in in the middle of this area and includes several acres alongside a creek. The park offers picnic tables, a playground, basketball courts and a large grassy field for picnics or play. A paved path follows the creek on one side of it – making a wonderful place just for strolling. (Bachman Park refers to both the park and its immediate neighborhood.)
Where is the Glenridge and Bachman Park neighborhood?
This charming older Los Gatos neighborhood is set just up the hill from the Almond Grove Historic District and adjacent to Fairview Plaza. (more…)
If you drive through the Edelen, Almond Grove, Fairview Plaza, Glenridge and other older and historic Los Gatos neighborhoods, you may have wondered how far back in time these architecturally interesting properties go. What are the oldest residences in town, or close by?
Los Gatos Historic Homes
Are there Adobes?
In the Santa Clara Valley, there are a handful of old adobe homes here and there, such as the Peralta Adobe in downtown San Jose (built in 1797), and the Santa Clara Women’s Club Adobe (built in 1790), and many more. I can’t say for certain if there are any remaining 18th-19th century adobe homes in Los Gatos. If they exist the most probable properties are around the Los Gatos Saratoga border, are private, occupied homes, and have extensive additions and modifications.
Victorian Era: Gold Rush to Gem of the Foothills
When discussing historic homes in the Bay Area, the Victorian undoubtedly comes to mind. And Los Gatos has plenty! A search of county real estate records for Los Gatos homes (in town, 95030 & 95032 plus the mountains, 95033) spanning the era from 1837-1901 revealed hundreds of properties identified as Victorian construction. It displayed about about 375 in 95030, 120 in 95032, and also about 140 in 95033. (more…)
My work takes me all over Los Gatos, but usually I’m driving. The other day I noticed some fanciful roof art as I was a passenger and had the leisure of looking up, down, and all around while my husband kept his eyes on the road.
I did almost miss it, as the large trees enjoyed in the Glenridge neighborhood made the fanciful roof art visibility more like a Where’s Waldo? game. (For a better view, click on the photograph below and you’ll see a larger version of it.)
I did a double take and then we doubled back when I noticed something on the roof’s peak. We do see interesting weather vanes, and sometimes intricate wood details on Victorians, but this was something else. This time Jim also got to see it and we decided it was worth parking the car to take a photo with a simpler backyard. (Click image to see larger photo.)
I’ve never seen a gargoyle on a residential roof before, but I thought it was wonderful and worth sharing. It’s topped off by the dragon weather vane!
These can be seen along Pennsylvania Avenue in the Glenridge area of Los Gatos. Are there other homes with curious and fun art on the roofs here in town? If so, I’d love to see them!
The very first subdivision or planned neighborhood in Los Gatos was along Broadway and nearby (Clifton Avenue, Broadway Extension and Wood Road), now the Historic Broadway Area (or Neighborhood or District). There had already been quite a few houses built at that time in Los Gatos, but none were planned areas per se. The Town of Los Gatos has called this the first residential street of Los Gatos! John Lyndon was the developer and he bought the land and created 48 parcels which were sold in September 1881 – a good six years before the far larger Almond Grove district was created and 6 years before the town was incorporated, too. A few homes in this area may already have been present, though, and seem to predate the 1881 date.
No doubt, Mr. Lyndon’s real estate buying decision was at least partially influenced by the location of his Lyndon Hotel, a whose bar was a popular hangout for the likes of John Steinbeck and Charlie Chaplain, which was located at the corner of Santa Cruz Avenue and Broadway, and now is the Lyndon Plaza (since sadly the hotel was torn down in the 1960s).
What was once a fairly quiet end of town is today mostly in the heart of it. The area closest to the post office enjoys a wide road (if desperately in need of repair), a good variety of Victorian and mostly older, historic homes, and is very uniformly well kept. Because it is either “in town” or “close to town”, the road is lined with cars most days – perhaps also because these houses of course pre-dated garages.
Historic Broadway Area Photos
Where is the Broadway Historic District in Los Gatos?
The Town of Los Gatos has a Historic Districts Map – have a look:
Broadway neighborhood of Los Gatos real estate information
The Town of Los Gatos is home to many lovely neighborhoods with historic homes (Broadway Area Historic District, Fairview Plaza and others), but perhaps none is so quaint or popular as the Almond Grove neighborhood. (See video drive through this neighborhood near the bottom of this article.)
Location, location, location: the Almond Grove’s got it
The location itself could be very compelling alone as the Almond Grove neighborhood is as much “in town” as “walk to town” with so many activities and opportunities happening along North Santa Cruz Avenue, Main Street and University Avenue – all a stone’s throw away. Quite vibrant, downtown Los Gatos enjoys an inordinate amount of restaurants, shops, coffee houses, bars, places to dine , taste wine, stroll or take in a film. It’s also home to free musical concerts in the summer, a parade in December, a gorgeous new public library, a Farmer’s Market every weekend and many other events year round. Finally, the Almond Grove is set near two parks, Bachman Park and the Los Gatos Town Plaza, so there’s a good amount of open space nearby too. There’s something for everyone!
Traditionally designed neighborhood with good community results
The allure of the Almond Grove is more than convenience, though. There’s an old time friendliness that seems to come with the big, welcoming front porches on so many of the older houses. Dwellings are also set closer together than one might find in suburbia, too. Rather than live so much in the privacy of the backyard, there’s an invitation implicit with this combination of close neighbors and a front porch that seems to underscore that residents are part of the neighborhood community and a bit less secluded.
The Almond Grove displays that sense of community from October to January especially, when it steps out as the best decorated corner of Los Gatos with a huge percentage of participation in the effort. Halloween is a great example. People’s enthusiasm is evident in by the beginning of October as props come out for the spookiest day of the year. Sometimes even in September, “Land of the Giant” sized spiders begin to appear, life-sized ghosts start to swing from porches and trees, the normally tidy and trim picket fences become smudged with spider webs, and every manner of Halloween decor drapes the district. On Halloween night, the Almond Grove district becomes positively overrun with enthusiastic kids from all over Los Gatos. I’ve been told that some homes get as many as 1,000 trick-or-treaters on Halloween night there. (more…)
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