Real Estate

Old Los Altos

Italianate Revival, Craftsman, Tutor, Victorian homes dominate the streetscape

Every couple of months, Sip & Stitch potlucks bring women together to get to know their neighbors in Old Los Altos. And a couple of times a year, the guys hang out at Burp & Slurp, sometimes to watch a sporting event.

Located just west of Foothill Expressway and an easy walk to downtown Los Altos, Old Los Altos is no post-war tract. Instead, homes range from a mega-million-dollar Italianate Revival to Craftsman, Tudor, Spanish and a few Victorians.

Although Nomi Trapnell served on the board of the Los Altos History Museum and now on the Los Altos Historical Commission, she and her husband Frederick (Fritz) weren't drawn to Old Los Altos in 1993 because of its historical significance, but rather its location. They spent the next two years building their new home.

With two teenagers at home, they soon jumped into getting to know their neighbors.

Trapnell noted that "before, in north Los Altos, we knew a few neighbors but there were few events. (Here) neighbors know each other."

She has hosted Sip & Stitch, where "no stitching goes on, mostly sipping and food." Participants range from their 30s to their 80s, she added.

It was nature camp at Redwood Grove Nature Preserve that introduced Nancy and Christian Bremeau to Old Los Altos. Each day, as she dropped off their 5-year-old son, she'd get a good glimpse of the neighborhood. Soon she spotted an overgrown lot -- and the Bremeaus also built a new home and moved in, in 2011.

"We loved the proximity to downtown," Nancy Bremeau said, adding that their son, now a teenager, often heads downtown with friends. "That independence that they have. ... Los Altos is such a safe town. Everyone knows everyone, looks out for each other's kids," she added.

Bremeau also has hosted Sip & Stitch, which attracts from 10 to 40 people each time.

"We use it to talk about issues," she said. Recently she made a presentation to the group about creating an Emergency Preparedness group and becoming a Block Action Team (BAT) leader. She recruited six more BAT leaders on the spot.

Expressing concern for her elderly neighbors who may have mobility issues, Bremeau said, "We want to make sure homes are covered in an emergency."

Other social events bring the neighbors together. Both Trapnell and Bremeau mentioned the "alley party" behind homes that face Orange and Palm avenues. Typically held on Labor Day, the party features a big potluck, karaoke and games.

And when it comes to issues, both Trapnell and Bremeau mentioned traffic caused by commuters trying to avoid Foothill Expressway backups, with cars zipping through their quiet enclave.

Today signs that read "DRIVE LIKE YOUR KIDS LIVE HERE" dot the streets, along with speed bumps to slow people down.

Bremeau, who recently joined the Los Altos Arts Commission, is brimming with ideas about how to beautify Old Los Altos. She would like to see the many utility lines undergrounded, so the trees wouldn't need to be trimmed so radically.

One thing she would never change is Shoup Park, a hidden gem in Old Los Altos that boasts two children's play areas, a meandering creek and grass lawn, as well as a war memorial statute, "Cradle of Liberty."

FACTS

child care: Children's House of Los Altos - Gardner Bullis, 25890 Fremont Road, Los Altos Hills

FIRE STATION: No. 15, 10 Almond Ave.

LIBRARY: Los Altos, 13 S. San Antonio Road

LOCATION: between El Monte and Edith avenues, Foothill Expressway and Los Altos Hills border

PARKS: Village Park, W. Edith Avenue at San Antonio Road; Shoup Park, 400 University Ave.; Lincoln Park, W. Edith and University avenues; Redwood Grove Nature Preserve, 482 University Ave.

POST OFFICE: 221 Main St.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Los Altos School District Gardner Bullis School, Egan Junior High School; Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District Los Altos High School; Bullis Charter School

SHOPPING: The Village (the triangle bordered by Edith, San Antonio and Foothill)

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