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.
(And if you liked this video, please see http://www.YouTube.com/popehandy for more videos of Los Gatos neighborhoods.)
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…)
This Los Gatos real estate article was originally written in 2007 but updated in late August 2015 and again in March 2020. Some of the photos are from the original post and some from 2015. – mph
One of the oldest residential neighborhoods in Los Gatos is the Edelen District, also called the University District. Originally a vineyard just north of the town’s school (where Old Town stands today), this residential neighborhood runs alongside the Los Gatos Creek to University Avenue or North Santa Cruz. Streets include University Avenue (south of Highway 9), Miles, Miller, and Edelen Avenues. (For more information on the location, please visit the town of Los Gatos’ statement on the Edelen District, ordinance 2168 on the University/Edelen District).
This officially designated historic area also once included homes downhill (off Miles), along the banks of the Los Gatos Creek. But frequent flooding made that untenable. Now the lower area, by the edge of the Los Gatos Creek, is home to the town’s recycling center, truck yard and car lot as well as the parks department’s building (Department of Parks and Public Works). And it houses the relocated Maria’s Berry Farm buildings too (formerly near Highway 17 and Lark Avenue and moved when Highway 85 was constructed in the early 90’s).
Filled with beautiful Victorian homes, many built in the late 1800s, the Edelen District boasts an incredible proximity to downtown Los Gatos (as does the Almond Grove, but this area is even closer “in”). The streets are tree-lined and delightful looking, and most owners clearly prize their distinctive and historically important homes and have restored and maintained them lovingly. This is a highly prized bunch of Los Gatos real estate!
For visitors to the Edelen District, parking is a pain. Most of the area is permit parking only, 24 hours a day. And it makes sense. These residences were constructed largely without garages in mind. The folks who live there need to park at home without competing for space with visitors to Old Town or other downtown draws. To further protect this area from undesired traffic, Miller Avenue is closed to automobile traffic where it intersects with Edelen. Shoppers are therefore not tempted to park illicitly.
There are countless architectural treasures in this area, but let’s have a peek at just a couple so you can get a flavor of the neighborhood. (Thanks in advance to the fabulous book, Los Gatos Observed by Alastair Dallas (not an affiliate link or sponsored ad, I just really enjoyed this book!) and to the Town of Los Gatos for its Hooked on History Project, sponsored by the Los Gatos Library and History Museum).
The home I photographed in August 2015 at the upper right is at 129 Edelen Avenue. It’s a gorgeous Queen Anne Victorian and was built in 1892. Because of the large bushes and trees, it is difficult to get a clear view of the home today framed in one photograph. The “Hooked on History” project of Los Gatos has a wonderful historic photo on its site, with a better view of the house as well as an interesting history of The Skinkle House as it is sometimes called!
Directly across the street is another gorgeous house, located at 130 Edelen Avenue. It was built in 1886 and has been the setting for a movie featuring Orson Welles (shot in 1970) and a television show. It, too, is a gracious Queen Ann Victorian with lots of splendid detailing. This was the winter residence of John Miles, a founder and developer of this district, and is sometimes called the Miles House.
My suggestion for seeing this historic neighborhood is to park at the public lot behind the newer section of Old Town, stroll down University Avenue to Miller and walk down the street to Edelen. Cars cannot pass through the intersection, but pedestrians can. Enjoy a leisurely walk up the tree lined street and then turn back toward University on Miles Avenue.
Bring your camera!
Photo slideshow of Edelen Avenue historic homes
104 Edelen, built in 1910 – small 2 bed, 1 bath cottage of 710 SF
Homes for sale in the Edelen or University Historic neighborhood in Los Gatos
Below please view any homes for sale in this historic Los Gatos neighborhood by map or by list view through the link. (more…)
While there are many neighborhoods with homes which qualify as historic, such as Glenridge, just five of these areas have the historic district designation: Almond Grove, University or Edelen, Fairview Plaza, the Broadway area, and Downtown.
The Town of Los Gatos has a wealth of information on the districts designated as historic and what qualifies them as such. For more information, have a look:
The 5 Official Town of Los Gatos Historic Districts