Los Altos, CA – The Los Altos History Museum will explore the legacy of Joseph L. Eichler’s architectural vision in a new exhibition in the Main Gallery, from April 29 – October 8, 2017. The exhibition will include photos, mid-modern iconic furniture, memorabilia and history of Eichler’s impact on the Bay area between 1949 and 1966. Grandson Steven Eichler has curated the exhibition with graphic design by his wife Judi.
“… Architectural modernism that followed World War II… had an appeal to middle-class buyers, and it was produced affordably,” wrote California architect and historian Alan Hess. It was in this environment that Eichler embraced the principles of modernism in an effort to provide progressive and affordable housing to middle income families.
With an office in Palo Alto, merchant builder Eichler was inspired to work closely with several innovative architects, including Robert Anshen, Steve Allen, and Claude Oakland from San Francisco, and A. Quincy Jones from Los Angeles. Eichler Homes, as the company was known, built more than 10,000 homes in the San Francisco Bay Area and about 900 in Southern California. The distinctive contemporary mid-century “Eichler’s” remain unique, desirable and celebrated to this day, sixty-five years later!
The first Eichler tract of homes was built in the City of Sunnyvale. Other subdivisions followed in Palo Alto and on up the Peninsula, also in Oakland, Marin County, and towards the end of Eichler’s career, in Los Altos. The almost fifty homes Eichler constructed in Los Altos in the 1960s are located off Fremont Avenue, plus an additional eight-home court was built off San Antonio Road in the early 70s. Joe Eichler and his wife Lillian lived in the larger Los Altos subdivision for a period of time. Mountain View homes are located off Miramonte Avenue. The Palo Alto area contains almost 2,750 homes within several subdivisions. Two of the Palo Alto tracts of homes have been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Eichler homeowners are not only very protective of their neighborhoods, but have a passion for the custom design layouts including the indoor/outdoor living experience, mid-century modern style, and the originality that they represent. They generally share a mutual love and respect for the architectural integrity of their homes. They also value the sense of community building and that special way of living Joseph Eichler worked to create.
“The Los Altos History Museum is proud to be partnering with the grandson of Joe Eichler to create this exhibition that celebrates an early effort to bring style and affordability to the masses,” said Dr. Elisabeth Ward, the Museum’s new executive director. The public opening reception for Eichler Homes: Modernism for the Masses, will be held Friday, May 5th, 5-7:30pm, featuring the Kirk Abe’s Jazz Trio. A mini speakers series will also be part of the exhibition programming, forthcoming details will be posted on the Museum’s website.
The Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collections, permanent and changing exhibits, store and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.
The Museum and J. Gilbert Smith House are open Thursday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, go to www.losaltoshistory.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.