From a 5-acre neighborhood park to a 22-acre multiuse area, the development of Greer Park offers a prime example of how a change in housing density can affect recreational facilities. The original five acres were acquired in 1963 and dedicated as Amarillo Park in September 1965. It was renamed John Lucas Greer Park in 1967, in keeping with the policy of honoring Palo Alto historical figures. Originally created as a neighborhood walk-in park, it was expanded to a district-sized park when the area’s population increased drastically with the construction of several large apartment complexes.
Captain John Lucas Greer, an Irish seafarer, was born in 1808. He plied the coasts of South Africa for 20 years, before sailing the brigantine Wild Duck into San Francisco Bay in 1849. While his men rushed off to the gold fields, he boarded a small skiff to explore the southern part of the bay. He sailed up San Francisquito Creek, decided to settle in the area, and leased some acreage for farming. The land, part of Rancho Rinconada del Arroyo de San Francisquito, once belonged to Don Rafael Soto, son of Ygnacio Soto, a member of the 1776 De Anza party. Maria Luisa, Don Rafael’s daughter and heir, had returned to the family ranch after the death of her husband John Copinger, a British Navy lieutenant.
In 1850, Greer and Maria Luisa were married and went to live on Rancho Canada de Raimondo (now Woodside), which Marisa Luisa had inherited from Copinger. Greer became a successful rancher, founded the Woodside Library, and was a trustee of the Woodside School. He and Maria Luisa had three sons and two daughters. The family moved to Palo Alto in the 1860s. Their house first stood on the northeast corner of Churchill and Alma, but was moved in 1867 to Embarcadero and El Camino. John Greer died in 1885. His eldest son, John Lucas Greer, lived in the same house until 1945. The Town and Country Village shopping center replaced the Greer house in 1952.