Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Filoli Estate and Gardens


View of Filoli house

View of Sunken Garden

Mural of Muckross House and Abbey

in Filoli ballroom

“Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life”

Filoli is a magnificent estate located on the Peninsula in Woodside. The estate, still remaining on all of its 654 acres, was built by Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II who lived on the estate from 1919 to 1936. The Bourn family owned the Empire Gold Mine, the Spring Valley Water Company and the Crystal Springs Reservoir and like many families during the early 20th century, prospered during America’s “Gilded Age”.

San Francisco architect Willis Polk designed this amazing estate using elements from different architectural eras and styles. The house, styled mainly in a modified-Georgian tradition has French and Spanish influenced architecture, with outstanding works of art from throughout the world. In the ballroom, Ernest Peixottoe, a San Francisco artist, was hired by the Bourn family to paint wall sized murals of their family estate, Muckross House and Abbey, with the surrounding Irish countryside, gifted to their daughter Maude on her wedding day.

The formal gardens at Filoli were designed by San Francisco artist and designer Bruce Porter and built between 1917 and 1921. The sixteen-acre garden is a true complement to the refinement of the estate and to the natural California countryside surrounding the home. The expansive gardens are divided into two parallel north-south walks, yet within each, walkways wrapping through gardens, doors and terraces give each division of the garden a feeling of total immersion and intimacy.

In 1937, Filoli was sold to Mr. and Mrs. William P. Roth, owners of the Matson Navigation Company. Mrs. Roth, a horticultural enthusiast, brought worldwide recognition to the Filoli gardens and to Isabella Worn, whom assisted with plant selection and design. Worn’s detail in selection and plating design brought remarkable color and life to the gardens.

Mrs. Roth donated the estate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975 in order to ensure the estate would be available for all to enjoy years later. Filoli is open Tuesday through Sunday, mid-February to late October and is a true pleasure for architectural, design and garden enthusiasts alike.

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