A resource for folks living in or moving to Los Gatos, by Mary Pope-Handy

Los Gatos

Haunted Los Gatos: The Old Cemetery

March 10, 2007

Mary Pope-Handy's Los Gatos, CA, Ghost Tour

One of Los Gatos’s More Haunted Haunts

Yesterday, an article I wrote about Haunted Real Estate was published on Real Town. I have received a ton of emails about ghosts and people’s experiences with them in the last 24 hours!  I have never had so much fun reading email.

So I thought you folks might like to know about some of our haunted spots, right here in beautiful, charming, upscale Los Gatos.  There are so many stories that it’s hard to know where to begin!!  Today I will address just one of these interesting locations. More to follow in later entries, I promise!  This will be “Mary Pope-Handy’s Los Gatos Ghost Tour”. 

Cemeteries tend to give people the creeps, so let’s start there. If you are local to Los Gatos, you probably know that the Los Gatos Memorial Park is actually in San Jose, with a Cambrian Park zip code, out on Los Gatos-Almaden Road.   How did that happen?  Well, usually you want the burial grounds to be a little bit out of town, right?  The Los Gatos Memorial Park began in 1888 (first burials in 1890) and was initially called the Los Gatos Cemetary.  By the late 1800’s, Los Gatos had expanded such that the in-town graveyard was just too close, so it was decided to move folks from their final resting place to a “more final resting place” out in the country. (It has no website, amazingly, but you can see great photos of this park by visiting an “unofficial” site at www.LGMP.com.) 

Where was this old cemetery?  It was located at the corner of Highway 9 and North Santa Cruz Avenue and bordered roughly by Village Lane and the old train tracks.  (The land for the train is now the long parking lot parallel to University Avenue and North S. Cruz Avenue.  As an aside, North Santa Cruz Avenue was called Cemetery Lane easy of Hwy 9 then!)   

It should be noted, too, that not only were there people laid to rest at this location, but it’s also possible that someone was killed there in 1906 when an interurban trolly car jumped its tracks and crashed at the same location – approximately where Double D’s stands today.

The town’s leaders tried to move all the bodies, really they did. From 1890 through 1924, they did a relocation of the town’s dead to the new country location.  But some family members could not be located to obtain permission to move their deceased loved ones.  After the bodies were moved (or most of them), the land was converted to the Hunt Brothers Cannery and housing for cannery workers for awhile. Today it’s a bustling part of our downtown and houses many shops and some restaurants, the most visible of which is Double Ds.  Is it haunted? You’d be surprised if I said no. Several of the businesses there do, indeed, have paranormal experiences and it appears that some of the folks initially buried there still consider this their home.  Yes, it’s haunted. Very haunted.

Blog entry by Mary Pope-Handy,
Los Gatos Enthusiast,
Los Gatos & Silicon Valley (San Jose area) Residential Real Estate Specialist and
Realtor, CRS, ABR, SRES, ASP, CNHS, RECS, E-Pro,
www.PopeHandy.com
Do not use without permission, please.

Los Gatos Real Estate Market

February 20, 2007

 

View From Los Gatos

San Jose from Harwood DriveTo the left is a photo I took a few weeks back from the far edge of Los Gatos – up on Harwood Road (where you aren’t allowed to park your car so this shot was taken from the window of my automobile). That’s downtown San Jose in the distance. Behind me are the Santa Cruz Mountains, aka the Coastal Range. Across from me, beyond downtown San Jose, you see the eastern foothills. Beyond them, at some distance, is the Central Valley.

This valley, the Santa Clara Valley, was once known as “The Valley of the Heart’s Delight”. Los Gatos lies at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a town you’d need to pass through to get to Santa Cruz and the beach. It s a vibrant part of life in SIlicon Valley, though it has only a little industry (Netflix being the biggest Los Gatos employer and tax generator). Most homes don’t have a great view like this, but many do have views of the hills – and those are lovely too.

How’s the Los Gatos real estate market?

So how’s the market in this very scenic corner of the valley? Well, it depends on your price point. For Los Gatos, the most affordable (i.e., really middle class) housing is going fast. Inventory is low. In fact, in January there were 100 homes for sale (not a lot) and as of this moment, there are just 89. We have 36 homes “pending”. Most of these are not at the high end of the spectrum. Prices in our fair town (not a city, but a town – just to be clear) range from a low of $799,000 to over $15 million for single family homes. By and large, the homes under $1.5 million are flying off the market. But there just aren’t that many buyers for homes over $10 million.

In my own neighborhood, Belwood of Los Gatos, there are about 500 homes and last year about 10 of them sold. This is an exceptionally low-turnover neighborhood. Prices in 2006 averaged about $1,230,000 for a home with about 2400 square feet. Right now there’s exactly one home for sale, it’s not far from the average size but it’s listed at $1,380,000. Will it sell for that much? I have no idea. If it does sell close to that price, we will know that prices are rising again. I cannot wait to see this home myself – naturally I want my home to appreciate in value (that is, until I think about my kids hopefully being in the housing market themselves in 10 years…then I hope it just climbs very, very slowly). You can check out the housing situation in Belwood by visiting my site, www.BelwoodOfLosGatos.com and clicking on the “Homes Info” button, or navigate there directly by using this link: http://www.belwoodoflosgatos.com/more/index.cfm?Fuseaction=more_11917
Historical information for recent years is on the following page, which you can reach at the top of the Homes Info page.

So how’s the market? If you are the owner of a high end home and you need to sell, you will say it’s awful. If you own a nicely updated, well priced middle class home, you would say it’s a market that is great for sellers and a little rough on buyers. If your home is not in great shape or is not priced in the bottom third of its competition, you might be convinced it’s a terribly strong buyer’s market. Truth is, it is close to balanced for most homes. It can be a win-win market, but everyone has to be realistic and be prepared to do a little work. But that would be true for most worthwhile things in life: they tend to need a dose of realism and some effort.

Favorite Places to Hang Out

December 01, 2006

liveinlosgatos img 0272 - Favorite Places to Hang OutAny time of year, a favorite place of mine to hang out is Old Town Los Gatos. A few years ago it was revamped, and in all honesty, I think it lost a lot of its charm then, but much of it does still remain and despite changes, it’s a great place to be and relax. There is a little bit of large topiary that remains – once there was a huge selection of it – and the outdoor theater still invites people to sit around and visit, if not see a show or hear music these days. It’s my hope that some of the “old” benefits of lingering at Old Town will one day return.

Some things don’t change. The Wine Celler is my favorite restaurant, not just in town, but anywhere. It offers a wonderful menu , including fun things like fondu and cheese boards, a nice variety of wines, and even live music. Additionally there’s patio seating upstairs in nice weather, but always a wonderful interior ambiance in the cellar itself. The people who run The Wine Cellar, the Hauck family, are as nice as the food is good.

I began visiting The Wine Cellar as a teenager and pretty much dragged all my friends there, especially on a weekend night if Gritty and Gravel were playing. (Does anyone know whatever happened to those guys?) I was a “regular” and I often asked them to play Desperado. They humored me. And I kept returning with new people week after week. As it turns out, my better half (Jim, now my husband of 21 years) was there many of those nights too. We would not meet until many years later, but now the restaurant is one our kids like too. I guess it was meant to be!

Another wonderful place in Old Town is directly upstairs, and that’s the local Border’s Books. My family and I are there a lot. I have been joking about buying stock in the place, actually. (I was there yesterday – bought Moving The Chains, a book about my famous cousin that happens to mention both my sister and my brother – and then indulged myself by having a latte in the cafe while skimming through the book for awhile.)

And a nice place to take a friend for a drink after work is Steamer’s. This place has a fantastic wine buyer and I’m only sorry that I don’t remember his name to give him credit – but he’s extremely good at matching the right wine to the right food, he’s friendly, and he’s fun to talk with. Steamer’s has some cool food and a nice atmosphere too.

I miss the outdoor shows in the open air theater. I miss the theater where Borders now stands too. I miss all the topiary that used to grace Old Town. But so much of the old charm remains, and so many wonderful people work the restaurants and shops, that even “progress” did not ruin what may be the very best part of our wonderful town. If you haven’t spent time there, please do. Neat shops, neat people, neat place.

 

Los Gatos Annual Real Estate Trends – Single Family Homes

November 26, 2006

Los Gatos Annual Real Estate Trends

SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES % Change from Year Before
Area Year Sales Median Price Average Price DOM New Listings Sales Median Price Average Price New Listings
LG 1997 359 $550,000 $641,487 66 611        
LG 1998 376 $660,000 $735,738 55 687 4.7% 20.0% 14.7% 12.4%
LG 1999 391 $730,000 $863,248 66 575 4.0% 10.6% 17.3% -16.3%
LG 2000 337 $925,000 $1,157,133 40 538 -13.8% 26.7% 34.0% -6.4%
LG 2001 232 $925,000 $1,164,241 65 731 -31.2% 0.0% 0.6% 35.9%
LG 2002 309 $955,000 $1,096,678 71 706 33.2% 3.2% -5.8% -3.4%
LG 2003 310 $970,000 $1,113,078 90 717 0.3% 1.6% 1.5% 1.6%
LG 2004 466 $1,165,000 $1,294,057 61 905 50.3% 20.1% 16.3% 26.2%
LG 2005 413 $1,251,000 $1,366,305 56 823 -11.4% 7.4% 5.6% -9.1%

Name Dropping: Famous Los Gatos Residents

November 25, 2006

Los Gatos is home to many great things, many great ideas too, but also home to many fascinating people who are successful in their own fields. The list includes CEOs, sports celebrities, and other famous people.  Wikipedia lists several of our Los Gatos contemporaries who are very well known, and if you live here, you do bump into them at Whole Foods, a restaurant, or maybe your child’s school.  They’re just normal people, trying to lead normal lives.  I, for one, won’t bug them if I see them in public or at some function where we happen to be together. I once spent a year in a body cast and it made me appreciate, deeply, how important it is just to be treated like a “normal person” – no matter what the circumstances are.

But Los Gatos has often been a popular place among those who could choose to live or visit anywhere they wanted – this is not a new experience for our pretty town. John Steinbeck lived here and wrote “Of Mice and Men” in those days. Charlie Chaplin came to visit and was seen a few times at the old Lyndon Hotel in the days when he was filming at Niles Canyon (a district of Fremont). The famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin lived in Los Gatos, up near the Holy Names Sisters convent and the Jesuit Novitiate, for a bit of time in his childhood. It was a treasured time for him.

Want to read up on well-known visitors? Take a look:

Visiting Movie Stars:
http://www.community-newspapers.com/archives/lgwt/10.17.01/pics-past-0142.html
Visiting Presidents:
http://www.losgatos.com/history/presidents.html

In addition to all the famous (and those of us who are not-so-famous) people who have enjoyed making Los Gatos home, there was a time in which ordinary, but very ill, people would pilgrimmage here too. The climate was so favorable it was prescribed. Did you ever wonder about the fact that Los Gatos was so small, but for many years had two mortuaries? Many of these sickly folk did improve here, but many others did not. Read John Baggerly’s surprising bit of history as Los Gatos, the health refuge: http://www.losgatos.com/history/climate.html .

Finally, some residents just won’t leave, even when their earthly life is over. If you are interested in our (mostly) unseen residents, please visit a page on one of my websites dedicated to Haunted Real Estate. Los Gatos is a featured location and I discuss there the old cemetary (which has shops over it now) and other places where the townsfolk remain in spirit.  

Neighborhood Spotlight: Belwood and Belgatos

November 21, 2006

Belwood of Los Gatos, Belgatos and Surmont areas of Los Gatos

On the far eastern end of Los Gatos lies a friendly and active neighborhood of about 500 homes: Belwood of Los Gatos, and also the Belgatos and Surmont neighborhoods – all of whom now share a cabaña.

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Mary Pope-Handy

Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805

Selling homes in
Silicon Valley, with
special focus on
Los Gatos 

and nearby areas,
including
Monte Sereno,
Saratoga,
Campbell,
and the San Jose areas of
Cambrian and Almaden Valley

Helping Nice Folks to
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