Green Gables Historic District
Period of Significance: 1950
Architects and Developers: Joseph Eichler, Steve Allen, Robert Anshen
Style: Mid-Century Modern
Features: single story, horizontal emphasis, floor-to-ceiling plate glass, post-and-beam/slab-on-grade construction, simple forms and detail, integration with nature
Contributing Resources: 45
Green Gables is one of Palo Alto’s several mid-century subdivisions designed by Joseph Eichler and the smaller of the two listed on the National Register of Historic Places (the other is Greenmeadow). While it is listed on the National Register, it is not a designated district on Palo Alto’s Inventory.
The area in which the Green Gables neighborhood developed was annexed by Palo Alto prior to World War II. The land was quickly developed after World War II by Joseph Eichler and all 46 of the contributing homes in the subdivision were built in 1950. Green Gables is significant as it is one of the most intact and earliest examples of a neighborhood of Eichler homes. Green Gables and other subdivisions designed by Eichler represent a crucial turn in both architectural style and homeownership. Eichler’s innovative and modern designs, using mass-produced materials, made his homes affordable to working and middle-class families. Furthermore, Eichler homes were particularly significant for the period because they did not conform to the practice of racially restricted-housing covenants, which was standard practice for nearly all suburban subdivisions built at the time.
The innovative and new design of Eichler homes won them numerous architectural awards and are beloved to this day. Eichler homes possess clean and simple designs with a horizontal emphasis. Common exterior features include float glass in steel frames, closed front facades, exposed beams, wood paneling, flat roofs, single-story frames, and one-car garages or carports. Common interior features include an open floor plan, built-in appliances, concrete slab floors, and radiant heating systems. Eichler homes, such as the ones in Green Gables, were influential in the larger national suburban and modern movement and served as models for the rapidly changing architectural and societal norms of the postwar era.