Photos Courtesy of Green Gables LLC
One of California’s largest and most interesting estates, historic Green Gables in Woodside, was the summer residence of the entrepreneurial Fleishhacker family of San Francisco.
After the 1906 earthquake and a family trip to England, the family began buying land to build a compound that would emulate the thatched-roof homes they had seen on their vacation. At 74 acres, and still in the Fleishhacker family, the property with its multiple homes and supporting buildings – 110 years after it was built – is for sale priced at $110 million.
Money was no problem for one of the busiest and wealthiest families in California when it came to creating a big and comfortable summer estate. Mortimer Fleishhacker, Sr. owned a paper company, and an electric company, and was one of the country’s leading bankers.
Documents show that the estate grew through close collaboration between Mortimer and architect/landscape architect Charles Sumner Greene of the famous architectural firm of Greene and Greene.
The goal for the design was that it appear natural to its landscape. It was a property of California firsts: first to have exterior walls of gunite, to have a free-form swimming pool, and the first to have a shingle roof that replicated the thatched roofs of England.
The property grew over the years to include seven homes, extensive gardens, woodlands, and a Roman-style pool that is the size of a football field. The last home to be built on the property was completed in 1970, showing how the structures have expanded across the landscape since the main house was constructed.
Green Gables has hosted dignitaries from European royalty, U.S. senators, congressional representatives, governors, and business leaders. In 1965, the United Nations selected Green Gables as the site for its 20th-anniversary commemoration gala.
Today, especially with its proximity to Silicon Valley, the estate would make an excellent corporate retreat and meeting center or continue as a large family compound. Historians and architectural students will appreciate the extensive documentation on the estate located in the Documents Collection of the College of Environmental Design, University of California Berkeley.
The historic Green Gables estate is listed by Mauricio Umansky of The Agency.
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