Sunnyvale is often known to be the “home of the Eichlers”, as it is where Joseph Eichler pioneered and developed his distinctive mid-century modern homes. There are 1,100 Eichler homes in Sunnyvale spread throughout at least 16 Eichler tracts, all slightly different, representing Joe Eichler’s efforts to stay with the changing times and buyer needs. The city of Sunnyvale is renowned for its progressive community, prestigious public schools, prize-winning parks and high quality city services, so it is no surprise that it is one of the most popular destinations for Eichler buyers. Sunnyvale Manor I was where Eichler built his first homes in 1949, near N Bayview and E Maude Avenue. These early mid-century modern homes were characterized by flat and mono-pitched roofs and central heating (very different from his later signature radiant heating feature). Eichler’s second development called Sunnymount Gardens followed a month later, and was actually the first development Joe Eichler built under the new “Eichler Homes” business name. It consisted of 36 homes on Sunnymount Ave and Dawn Ave, near Las Palmas Park. Aesthetically, it was an extension of the basic design of the Manor.
In 1950, Eichler returned to his original Sunnyvale Manor subdivision to develop Sunnyvale Manor II, just two blocks away. But the major difference was that he had now brought on architects Anshen & Allen. Together they built 51 homes on Morse Ave, Maple Ave, E Arbor and E Duane. Although the homes in this tract are not widely recognized as “true” Eichlers because they are very different from the more common and widely accepted atrium and courtyard models, they nevertheless represented a major breakthrough at the time in mid-century modern design.
His next project in Fairorchard consisted of 54 homes located in the southwest corner of Sunnyvale – on Wright Ave, Edmonton Ave, La Salle Dr, Homestead Rd and Helena Dr. Homes range from 3 bedroom, 1370 sq ft to 4 bedroom, 1890 sq ft floor plans, with both courtyard and atrium models. Responding to buyer demand, these homes were distinctly larger than Eichler’s previous tracts. Apple founder Steve Wozniak actually grew up in a Fairorchard Eichler home on Edmonton Ave, similar to this one on Edmonton Ave. The schools here are the most coveted in Sunnyvale, with West Valley Elementary (which is actually within the Cupertino School District), Cupertino Middle and Homestead High. The Fairbrae tract came shortly after in 1958 and consisted of 78 homes on Pome Ave, Sheraton Dr, Pomegranate Ct, Pulora Ct, Quince Ave and Hollenbeck Ave. The emphasis here was on making it more of an upscale development. While there are many courtyard model Eichlers (shaped like an “L”), today there are several non-courtyard models that owners have built fences around in order to create the same courtyard feel.
Fairbrae Addition was a continuation to this project and consisted of 275 homes built in 1959 to 1960, on Hollenbeck Ave, Vanderbilt Dr, Vanderbilt Ct, Winggate Dr, Sesame Dr, Sesame Ct, Torrington Dr, Regia Ct, Ribier Ct, Strawberry Ct, Spinosa Dr, Templeton Dr, Templeton Ct, Tangerine Way, Rockport Dr, Royal Ann Dr, Tiffany Ct, Sheraton Dr, Royal Ann Ct, N Sage Ct, S Sage Ct, Smyrna Ct and W Remington Dr. The big draw here is the local Fairbrae Swim and Tennis Club within walking distance to most Eichler homes. All the Eichler homes were originally 4 bedroom-2 bathroom floor plans, a mix of courtyard and atrium models with many variations of both. Adjacent to Fairbrae lies the 140 homes that make up the Rancho Verde tract, which was built in 1960 on S Mary Ave, Ticonderoga Dr, McIntosh Ave, Mcintosh Ct, Nelis Ct, Navlet Ct, Trenton Dr, Pimento Ave, Somerset Dr, Shenandoah Dr, Revere Dr and Plum Ave. The Rancho Verde Addition followed shortly after in 1962 as a smaller, more upscale project consisting of 40 homes, on S Mary Ave, Ticonderoga Dr, Sherwood Dr, Sherwood Ct, Maraschino Dr and Susquehanna Ct. Here we begin to see the first appearance of Gallery models, a design led by Claude Oakland. And of course you’ll also find the usual courtyard and atrium models with flat tops, slightly pitched roofs and Double A frames.
Fairwood was built in 1961-1962 and consists of 215 homes located on S Wolfe Rd, Dartshire Way, Mallard Way, Kingfisher Way, Carlisle Way, Coventry Ct, Cornwall Ct, Devonshire Way, Duncardine Way, Flicker Way, Flamingo Way, Firebird Way and Dunholme Way. Today, the huge draw to this neighborhood is the fact that it’s within one mile of the Apple Campus and thus very popular with Apple employees who wish to avoid commuting, most even ride their bikes to work. Around the same time Joe Eichler was constructing the Fairwood tract, he was spending a lot of time working on inner-city projects in San Francisco. It is said this loss of focus on Fairwood reflected a shift downmarket and toward economies of scale. In the years that followed, Eichler Homes would go bankrupt and Eichler knew he had to make a switch from Fairwood-style mass production to more semi-custom homes. This transition spearheaded a new mentality for Eichler Homes that focused on the quality rather than the quantity.
In 1967 Eichler built 42 homes that make up the Parmer Place tract, on Cumberland Dr, Piper Ave, Pear Ave and Brookline Dr. They featured eleven different floor plans ranging from 1750 to 2411 sq ft, with mostly atrium models and even one rare Loggia model. Caution here as some of the larger lots are built right underneath the high voltage power lines. Built the following year in 1968, Rancho Sans Souci tract was another infill project consisting of 35 homes on Mackenzie Dr, Laurentian Way, Olympus Ct and Pendleton Ave. Here you’ll find some of the largest and most stunning Eichlers in Sunnyvale, and many of the favored Double A Frame models. Another 35 home tract project began in Primewood from 1968 to 1970, and signifies an escalation in the floor plan race. There were ten different floor plans, which were again fairly large in size ranging from 1750 to 2300 sq ft. Lot sizes were also larger starting at 8000 sq ft and as large as 12,000 sq ft on the cul-de-sac lots. These homes can be found on Alison Way, Lennox Wa, Lennox Ct, Blanchard Way and Beaverton Ct.
Eichler then went a little off the map and started the Midtown tract in 1969, with only 15 homes located north of El Camino, on W Iowa Ave, Vasquez Ave and Polk Ave. Homes in this tract rarely come on the market, but are very popular because they fall within the Homestead High School boundary but are within the 94086 zip code. With a nostalgic nod, Eichler went back to Fairwood to build another 20 homes known as the Fairwood Addition in 1971 on Chukar Ct and Chickadee Ct. These homes were surprisingly small, ranging from 1545 sq ft courtyard models to 1800 sq ft atrium models. He then finished off his development in Sunnyvale with 20 homes on Homestead Rd and Lorne Way, known as the Fairpark Addition.
Due to the monumental impact Eichler had on the city, the City of Sunnyvale approved Eichler Guidelines, in order to preserve the distinctive features of these homes for residents looking to perform remodels or renovations.