Living Under A Rock? Reflections on Filoli House….

Have I been living under rock?  I like to think of myself as “in the know” but somehow this place escaped me all of these years.  This past weekend I was introduced to Filoli House and Gardens located about 40 minutes south of San Francisco in Woodside, CA.  We happily spent many hours wandering the house and the grounds.  There was so much inspiration that I decided to divide my photos into two blog entries.  This first is focusing on the house alone.  Please check back for the garden shots…

The story goes that after the 1906 earthquake it was popular for the wealthy San Francisco families to relocate to the “Peninsula” to build large estates.  It was common that these wealthy families made their living in railroad, mining, and mercantile.  Filoli is the last of the estates remaining on its original 654 acres…that’s right…654 acres!

Filoli was built by Mr. & Mrs. William Bowers Bourn II between 1917-1919.  The Bourns were owners of the Empire Gold Mine (where I attended a wedding at many years ago!).  Mr. Bourn selected this site on Crystal Springs Lake because it reminded him of Muckross, an Irish estate he bought for his daughter Maud as a wedding gift in 1910 – can you imagine?  He named the estate Filoli by combining the first two letters from the key words of his credo:  “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life”  (now I am obsessed with finding my own credo…isn’t it too great?)

Bourn hired San Francisco architect Willis Polk (famous in these parts) to design his country estate.  The style is considered California eclectic that borrows elements from many different architectural eras.

With the death of the Bourns in 1936, Mr. & Mrs. William P. Roth, owners of Matson Navigation Company, bought the estate.  Mrs. Roth was a noted horticulturalist and brought recognition to the Garden.  She lived at Filoli unitl 1975 when she donated the House, Gardens, and acreage to the National Trust for Historic Preservation so that future generations could enjoy it.

Mrs. Roth was the daughter of the founder of Matson Shipping.  Her husband went to work for her father.  His legacy to Matson were the passenger ships that brought tourists to the Hawaiian islands and other parts of the South Pacific.  In the ship room (which included ship models, sailor art, and other collectibles), were three Goyard trunks belonging to the Roth’s that she used on her travels.  I just love Goyard!  Reminds me of a wonderful trip to the Paris outpost where these would have been made, hand painted, and personalized before the Roth’s purchased them.

This is the butler’s pantry!  Isn’t it divine?  The wonderful turquoise appliances, checkerboard linoleum, and subway tile hold up today, in my opinion.

This is a view into their silver safe.  Can you imagine?  A huge safe in your butler’s pantry for all of that silver?

I was just fascinated by this servant’s call board.  There are lights for every room in the house so that the servant’s knew where they were needed.

Here is as shot of the kitchen, separate from the butler’s pantry.  The old mixing bowls and cooking instruments are on display.  Above the cabinets are framed menu covers from aboard Matson cruise ships.

Another shot of the kitchen.  Notice that this wall of cabinetry features stainless steel counter tops.

Here is the range.  Isn’t it wonderful?  So enormous and I love all of the copper pots.  A dream stove, really.

I thought this picture was just adorable.  The Roth’s chef cooked for them for something like 40 years, if I recall.  They had such a close relationship that the Roth’s sent his son to college.

There is a separate pastry kitchen in a citrus yellow color with coordinating linoleum counter tops and floors.  So cheery and fresh!

Here is a wide shot of the ballroom.  It is quite grand.  32′ wide x 70′ long.  The walls are the original “watergreen” paint trimmed with gold leaf.  Apparently the French crystal chandeliers cost $1500 back in the day and have been appraised for $25,000 for modern time.  I’m surprised they aren’t more actually.

The Bourn’s commissioned Ernest Peixotto, a prominent San Francisco muralist to paint scenes depicting Muckross House and abbey and the Lakes of Killarney in Ireland.  This 1100 acre estate was a gift to the Bourn’s daughter Maud for her wedding to Arthur Vincent.  After her death in 1929, the estate was deeded to the Irish nation and is today known as Bourn Vincent Memorial Park…how cool.

Note this gorgeous staircase made of black Belgian marble with filigree-style black iron baluster.

Perhaps my favorite room, The Study.  Wood paneling gives an intimate feel and the scale of the room is more in proportion with today’s houses.  A portrait of Mrs. Roth, who gifted the House and Estate, hangs above the mantel.

The floors were a favorite of mine!  Oak flooring that have been carved into and stained to add a rich and interesting texture.

I adore this little bar built into a closet in the study.  This horse wallpaper could not be any more charming.  I love how they cut around the horses and allowed the paper to trail onto the ceiling!

I was tickled to see this safe turned into a wine room!  The Bourn’s used the safe for their mining fortune.  When the Roth’s moved in they turned the safe into a wine closet.  It so reminded me of my recent project for a client

As you can probably tell, I loved my visit to Filoli.  Check back, the tour continues with my impressions of the wonderful gardens!



Filed under Inspiration all around

3 responses to “Living Under A Rock? Reflections on Filoli House….

  1. Just getting caught up after my return from Paris and wanted to stop in and thank you for your recent comment. I love your site and congrats on completing your first year. I also have never been to Filoli but it is a definite on my list. Thanks for the virtual tour.


  2. Thanks Selena! It really is wonderful. You MUST go back to see the house. It is AMAZING!

  3. Selena

    What a great post! A dear friend of mine took me there years ago.. and I am thinking we just did the gardens… now I have to go back to see the estate! WOW!

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