When Linda Hubbard Gulker wrote an article about Menlo Oaks for InMenlo several years ago, she called it “Menlo Park’s most oak-filled neighborhood.” That captures much of what makes Menlo Oaks unique. Distinctive oaks fill the streets. How many is unclear, but they add to the bucolic ambience of the neighborhood.
There are almost 300 households in Menlo Oaks—some, at the end of driveways winding back to flag lots, you don’t even know they are there. Adjacent to the city of Atherton, Menlo Oaks is unincorporated and relies on San Mateo County for its services. The County, through various rules and regulations, is responsible for how are trees are managed.
Part of Menlo Oaks charm is its no sidewalks, few street lamps, and narrow streets—all shaded by a thick canopy of mature oaks, redwoods, eucalyptus and evergreen trees. Most lot sizes are large. The style of homes range from original rancher and Eichlers to newly built mansions. While the make-up of homeowners has been changing, getting younger and wealthier as each year passes, the homes have mostly avoided the wrecking ball and have instead undergone major renovations.
The largest presence in Menlo Oaks is the private Peninsula School. While Menlo Park schools are well known for their academic excellence, Peninsula School offers a striking alternative with its progressive, parent-cooperative curriculum. The 80-year old academic institution resides in an iconic Victorian manor on a sprawling campus.
A Little History
Like other parts of the area, Menlo Oaks was once part of Rancho de Las Pulgas. In 1882, the Coleman mansion, now Peninsula School, was built on a 165-acre parcel by Maria Coleman for her son James and his wife Carmelita. The couple never lived there; James sold it to Livingston Jenks in 1905 for a subdivision following the death of Coleman’s wife, which was ruled an accidental. According to Beyond the Gate, Carmelita’s spirit has appeared at the school “in a diaphanous green dress.”
To learn more about Menlo Oaks, please visit our neighborhood association, MODA.
To learn more about the Coleman Mansion, visit the Palo Alto Stanford Heritage website.