Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Docents, attendees, home owners and artists came together to showcase Eichler homes in the Highlands the weekend of May 3 and 4.
With an improved economy, San Mateo’s Highlands neighborhood decided it was time to once again exhibit its Eichler homes.
A tour, this past weekend, featured 10 of these homes. The neighborhood is composed of 700 single-story Eichler homes, and a handful of original two-story Eichler homes. The homes are defined by their post-and-beam construction, floor-to-ceiling panes of glass, skylights, aluminum sliding doors, in-floor radiant heating and open floor plans. Developer Joseph Eichler built most of the homes between 1956 and 1964 in a style now referred to as “California Modern.”
“It showcases our unique neighborhood,” said Linda Siguenza, the event chair. “It brings us all together and we’re really proud of how our neighborhood gets along. … We’re very proud of the Eichler family we’re related to from Mountain View to Oakland.”
Additionally, organizers are able to raise funds for Highlands Elementary School PTA and estimate they raised more than $70,000 this year. The event was held in 2007 and 2009 and will likely take place in another two to three years, Siguenza said. Docents and artists selling their work inhabited each of the homes.
The Highlands’ Eichlers are particularly unique since they’re the nation’s largest contiguous collection of Eichlers, said Mark Easterday, owner of Eichler Homes Reality, who was dubbed “The Eichler Guy” on HGTV. This means there’s a lot of homes with canyon views since the Highlands sits high in the hills.
“It’s kind of like the classic car of housing,” he said. “They draw people who believe in carving a unique home that’s a reflection of their lifestyle. … It’s a statement of personality.”
Unifying the indoors and outdoors is a key objective of Eichler’s architectural style. Some models feature his signature atrium, which further reinforces the inside-outside relationship. Most homes have high ceilings with flat or gently sloped roofs and are primarily single story modern-ranch homes.
Famous Eichlers in the neighborhood include the X-100 Eichler, the “Steel House of the Future,” designed by A. Quincy Jones built in the Highlands in 1956. The “Life House,” a multi-level home built by Eichler in 1958 based on a design by architect Pietro Belluschi, is also in the neighborhood and was featured in a Life Magazine in 1958.
The simplicity and open space is why Menghis Bairu, a Highlands resident who opened his home for the tour, likes living in an Eichler.
“We’re from Africa, so we love to entertain,” said Bairu, who removed the atrium from the home so there could be even more open space for the kitchen and living room to connect.
Another owner, Mark P., said he’s a big fan of modern art.
“I like looking at pictures of Eichlers in books,” he said. “I figured I might as well live in one.”
The tour also featured one home that wasn’t an Eichler and an exterior of an Eichler home. To find out more about the tour visit eichlerhometour.org.
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