“Community Center is a neighborhood brimming with family-oriented amenities, charm and convenience.”
Community Center (MLS #240) was crowned as such based on its immediacy to Palo Alto’s Lucie Stern Community Center. Also nestled within its borders are the Junior Museum and Zoo, the Palo Alto Main Library and the Children’s Library and Palo Alto’s Rinconada Park. The city’s downtown shopping district on University Avenue is a pleasant 15 minute stroll while highway 101 is a mere 2 miles away. All of these town jewels afford Community Center residents with a myriad of family-oriented features right in their own backyard.
The majority of the borough was constructed in the 1920s and 1930s and offers a wide range of housing options. The emblematic ranch homes are found scattered among older dwellings and new or renovated residences. Community Center includes one of Joseph Eichler’s final developments constructed in 1973 on the former Harker School location.
A section of Community Center bordered by Middlefield, Embarcadero and Newell Roads and Channing Avenue draws in homebuyers who desire a deep sense of neighborliness. Residents here know each other by name, host numerous annual block parties and are proud of the fact that their safe, quiet lanes are filled with children playing and riding their bicycles.
Although not as grand as the houses in Crescent Park, Community Center homes offer much in the way of architectural style and vintage. Most dwellings are below 2,000 square feet and have one to two bathrooms. Compliments of the ‘raze and rebuild’ phenomena, there are a few larger, more modern residences in the area.
Overall, Community Center is a model borough for families looking for traditional homes, a close community and a multitude of recreational opportunities.
History of Community Center, Palo Alto
The neighborhood of Community Center was part of the original University Park subdivision, created in anticipation of the pending Stanford University founded by mogul Leland Stanford. On Stanford’s behalf, right-hand man, Timothy Hopkins, purchased 697 acres of wheat fields from owners and brothers, Henry and Thomas Seale. The Seales acquired the property in the mid-1850s from then owner, Maria Luisa Soto. Soto owned acreage of the former Rancho Rinconada del Arroyo de San Franciscquito. The brothers assisted her in fending off claims to her portion of the land and Soto rewarded the pair with 1,4000 acres as payment.
The name “University Park” was given to the area by Hopkins based on a misunderstanding between him and Stanford. In the meantime, Edward Barron named his district “The Tract of Palo Alto”, the name Stanford had chosen. Stanford eventually had to pay $1,000 to Barron for the right to use “Palo Alto” as the name of his town while Barron renamed his borough Barron Park.
Residential development in Community Center harkens back to the 1920s and 1930s when the town of Palo Alto was much more subdued. Tiny cottages on equally small lots were the norm and a few still exist in this neighborhood. Some of these dwellings have maintained their original shared driveways, which harkens back to the initial “four homes to a lot” configuration.
Key among its many amenities as well as its namesake is the Lucie Stern Community Center. Built in 1934, the center was designed by “Palo Alto’s best-loved architect”, Birge Clark, renown for his Spanish Colonial Revival style.