Friday, September 16, 2016


Filoli was built between 1915-1917 by William Bowers Bourn II in the beautiful hills of Woodside, just 30 minutes south of San Francisco. He inherited one of California's richest gold mines and owned the Spring Valley Water Company, supplying water to San Francisco. The family wanted a country home away from San Francisco so they built this magnificent 36,000 square foot mansion on 654 acres. The name of the estate is an acronym formed by combining the first two letters from the key words of William Bourn's personal credo: Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life. Earlier in the month we visited Filoli with my mother. We LOVED it so please join me for a little tour.

The dining room is set up for a dinner to celebrate the repeal of the 18th Amendment. 

I love the thought of the Bourn's holding a "Drunk's Dinner" to celebrate the repeal of the 18th amendment! I would have loved an invitation to the formal dinner party. The dinner was the last large-scale event they held before their death. The Bourn's sister Ida acted as hostess as they were in ill health and stayed in their upstairs bedroom.

How would you like a butler's pantry this large? The appliances were modernized in the 1960's by the Roth family who purchased Filoli in 1936. Great color don't you think?

Everyone needs a silver vault this size. 

I really enjoyed this room which displays paintings and models depicting ships once owned by Captain William Matson and the Matson Line. Following the death of the Bourns in 1936 the estate was sold to Mr. William P. Roth & his wife, Mrs. Lurline Matson Roth, heiress to the Matson Navigation company. "Filoli" was donated in its entirety to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975, with an endowment for operating expenses. 

This is a model of one of the first ships purchased by Captain Matson in 1887. This was the first ship owned by Matson Navigation Company to bear the name "Lurline."

The Roth's stove and was supposed to go on a ship but it ended up in the kitchen of Filoli instead. 

Marla and my Mother pass through the "French Room."

The drawing room was very beautiful and decorated with interesting antiques. Most of the fine antiques and furniture seen today did not belong to the Bourn and Roth families. Estate sales left only 64 lots of belongings for "Filoli." A wealthy private collector from Palos Verdes, Melville Martin, toured "Filoli" and was heard saying, "I'm in love." "This is it. This is what I would have built." His 600 piece collection of antique furniture and rare decorative art was given to Filoli after he died in 1998. 

The library was a favorite room of William Bourn.

We really enjoyed the study, a favorite room of Mrs. Lurline Roth. The picture above the fireplace is Mrs. Roth walking in her favorite garden. There was a room behind a secret door for storing wines. Mrs. Roth and her son purchased & renovated Ghirardelli Square in 1964. They wanted to save it from the being torn down by developers. She died in 1985 at 95 years old.

The ballroom is massive in size and has a raised area for concert performances.

The sunken formal gardens are magnificent and beautifully maintained. There are almost 1000 volunteers who work as docents in the home and help in the garden.

Why yes,...I would enjoy a little swim!

We say goodbye to wonderful "Filoli." I am so glad we toured the estate and gardens. There are many magnificent historic homes throughout the U.S. and I would put "Filoli" in the 10 Must See lists. If you visit they have a very nice cafe for lunch. We had a piece of fabulous "Princess Cake." It is a favorite of mine as I love marzipan!

As a side note you may be interested in this image of "Muckross House" and its surrounding 11,000 acres near County Kerry Ireland which the Bourn family purchased in 1910. They gave it as a present to their daughter after she was married. After the death of their daughter Maude, the Bourns and their son-in-law gave the estate to the Ireland in 1932. It became their first national park and is known as "Killarney National Park."

***Check out this aerial view of "Filoli."

***All Images except Muckross House by Dick Gentry.

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