Thirty miles south of San Francisco, the Filoli Estate and Gardens is an
elegant oasis in the South Bay Area.
What's In A Name?
First, the name. While "Filoli" sounds like a typically mellifluous
Italian surname, it was not named for its original owner, nor was the owner
Italian. William Bowers Bourn was a mining baron who began construction of the
estate in 1915. He chose a building site at the southern end of Crystal Springs
Lake, which was part of his property holdings (Mr. Bourn also owned the Spring
Valley Water Company). He named it Filoli by combining the first two letters
(FI-LO-LI) of the verbs "fight, love, live," from his personal motto,
"Fight for a just cause, love your fellow man, and live a good life."
Filoli is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from mid-February until
late October, closed on holidays. Standard admission is $12 for adults, $5 for
students, and free for children under the age of 4; higher admission is charged
for certain festival and event days. The estate is a California State Historic
Landmark as well as being listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
It is protected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The home has 43 rooms, not counting closets and bathrooms, and 17
fireplaces. Ceilings are 17-foot or higher throughout, lending a soaring
grandeur (and a bit of a draft!) to every room.
The formal gardens were divided
between a distinctly Georgian style in the north section and an English
Renaissance style to the south. The original gardens took over a decade to
construct and are rather unique in that they have maintained their design
integrity for nearly a century. The home changed hands to owners Mr. and Mrs.
William P. Roth in 1936, but the integrity of the gardens was maintained. The
only substantive change during the 40 years the Roths owned the home was the
addition of a swimming pool and its surrounding gardens. The Roths turned the
home over to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975.
From the East Bay, take Highway 92 west, then Highway 280 south to the
Edgewood Road exit and proceed as above.
For more information, including special events and holiday closures, phone
650-364-8300, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out the official website at
Sally O'Neal is a travel and outdoor writer who lives and writes in the
Pacific Northwest, but considers the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area her second
home. She writes weekly for sportsmansguide.com.