The Adobe Meadow neighborhood started as a site of rural half-acre lots off Middlefield Road in the late 1940s. It was located in the unincorporated farmland between Palo Alto and Mountain View at a time when Adobe Creek ran along East Charleston Road and the residents along Charleston and the south end of Grove Avenue crossed bridges to the Piers Dairy on Louis Road.
Grove Avenue, Mayview Avenue, and Ross Road were dirt roads where custom older homes first occupied corner lots. Some homes still survive on Middlefield Road at East Meadow, on Ross Road at both East Meadow and Mayview, and along Grove Avenue, while others have been thoroughly remodeled. The first homes had wells for drinking water, since municipal services had not yet reached south of Palo Alto.
One of the earliest residents was Bea Ellis on Grove Avenue, who worked for many years as a school cook. She remembers when the Corina Way and Nathan Way were a carrot field with fig and other fruit trees growing in mini-farms. Some of the trees and wells still survive.
Paul Berry remembers a December 1955 rain that created a lake in the area east of Middlefield Road so the dairy cows there were standing knee-deep in water. That Spring, Eichler, Brown & Kaufman and Mackay began building homes on that dairy site. The Brown and Kauffman development along Louis Road north of the new Adobe Creek flood channel was built in the mid-1950s, when Charleston Road was widened. Eichlers sprung up in 1956 on south side of the channel, a twin of a similar development off Miller Creek Road in Marin County called Lucas Valley. AMNA past-president Ken Allen grew up in that Lucas Valley subdivision. Ortega School and Ramos Park were built to serve the burgeoning population of school children.
In the 1950s, as Philco built its plant on Fabian Way and as the streets were paved and widened, the street level was lowered along Grove Avenue, leaving a lip along the property lines of the developed lots on both sides of the street and clipping front yards along expansive Ross Road and East Meadow.
City-owned trees were integrated into the front lawns on Grove Avenue rather than planted at the curb. The trees along the 3700 block of Grove Avenue were removed and replanted in the early 1970s, while the trees in the 3800 block of Grove Avenue have survived for over forty years.
From the late 1950s into the 1970s, the half-acre lots along Grove Avenue, Mayview Avenue and Ross Road were split, eventually leading to nearly-hidden flag lots behind every home. In 1956, a contractor created a cul de sac called Grove Court adjacent the Adobe Creek Channel . He and six of his Mormon friends built custom homes there — each with a room over the garage.
In the mid-1960s, May Court was fully developed and later the first solar-powered home was added to the neighborhood. In 1977, the largest undeveloped site along Middlefield Road–just south of the Adobe Creek channel, was slated for development as below-market-rate, high-density residences. Instead, the flood channel was upgraded: the entire ground level was filled, packed, and raised above flood grade to support the development of custom homes along Ensign Way and the construction of the LDS Meetinghouse for the large community of Palo Alto Mormons.
Two World War II vintage Quonset huts originally lined Middlefield adjacent the Adobe Creek channel, housing a ballet studio and an auto repair garage. In the 1980s, after the City forced their removal and closure, the lots were developed as residences. Lorna Affleck of May Court moved the ballet studio to the closed Cubberley High School, but closed it after conversion proved impractical.
Ortega Court is named after Ortega Elementary School which operated on the site until 1976. After the school was closed, it served as the home of the Jewish Community Center until 1983. At that time, the school district sold the site and several other school properties in the face of drastically reduced enrollment. Ramos Park was expanded with a strip of open field and the remaining land was sold for homes.
Grove Avenue and Corina Way held block parties starting in the early 1980s. The Grove Avenue block party was eventually subsumed into the annual Mitchell Park Chili Cookoff on July 4, and Arthur Keller, one of the early AMNA organizers, helped morph the Corina event at Ramos Park into a neighborhood association, joining the neighboring blocks in the early 2000s.
For more Palo Alto history, visit the Palo Alto Historical Association.