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Greenmeadow Community Center and Nursery School, 1954

 

Joseph Eichler Green Meadow Community Center Thomas Church

Joseph Eichler

303 Parkside Drive, Palo Alto, California

Thomas Church

 

The Greenmeadow community center was built in 1954 to be the social center for this 270 home Eichler Utopia. As child rearing was an essential element in the invention of the suburb the center was built as a multipurpose space converting from day time daycare to adult entertainment and activity through the use of movable storage/cabinet partitions. Joseph Eichler,“social engineer” and developer thought that the center would help restore community that was lost as people dislocated from traditional “home towns” across the country to find employment in the Bay Area. The center was designed by the Award winning Los Angeles architecture firm of Jones and Emmons and the grounds were designed by Thomas Church.

The Greenmeadow Park adjacent to the center is reputed to be the prototype for the Sunset Magazine Garden in Menlo Park. Full height sliding glass doors define the perimeter of the center illustrating the importance of the landscape and building becoming “One”, in the words of A.Q.Jones. Outdoor living is a unique concept of Mid-Century Californian Modern design. Restoring the center in 2007 validated Joseph Eichler’s concepts in that it was a self- help effort that brought the community together and demonstrated the power that “old buildings” have to link people together. Thousands of staples and layers of pastel paint were removed from the solid redwood picture rails that run throughout the center, evidence of three generations of “kid art” and hard use. Contractors hired for more technical jobs would tell stories of having been last visited the center as 3 year old tots. Seniors looking in on the progress would relate stories of great events held there that had shaped their lives decades ago. Guided by architect K.C. Marcinik’s research of drawings made by A. Q. Jones and Thomas Church, the center was restored back to its simple modern design principles and the priceless solid redwood ceilings were cleaned and repaired. The original in-slab radiant heating is still working. Installing a “green” and practically edible real linoleum floor was the only major change to the centers original design. The restoration of a Thomas Church designed secret garden patio on the North side of the center is underway.

Mark Marcinik

Photo Gallery

Swim Club plantings View to other side pathinterior of meting space covered walk back yard view from meeting patio view of sky from covered wallkway covered walk Nursery school entry nursery school

 

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