Last updated
Exterior of Filoli, used as the Carrington Mansion on the television series Dynasty
Location86 Cañada Road, Woodside, California
Coordinates 37°28′13″N122°18′39″W / 37.4704°N 122.310703°W / 37.4704; -122.310703 Coordinates: 37°28′13″N122°18′39″W / 37.4704°N 122.310703°W / 37.4704; -122.310703
Built for William Bowers Bourn II
Architect Willis Polk
Architectural style(s) Georgian Revival
Governing body National Trust for Historic Preservation
Official nameBourn-Roth Estate
DesignatedAugust 28, 1975
Reference no.75000479 [1]
DesignatedFebruary 8, 1977
Reference no.907 [2]
USA California location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Filoli in California
Usa edcp location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Filoli (the United States)

Filoli, also known as the Bourn-Roth Estate, is a country house set in 16 acres (6.5  ha ) of formal gardens surrounded by a 654-acre (265 ha) estate, located in Woodside, California, about 25 miles (40 km) south of San Francisco, at the southern end of Crystal Springs Reservoir, on the eastern slope of the Santa Cruz Mountains. [3] Now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Filoli is open to the public. The site is both a California Historical Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [1] [2]



Bourn family

Filoli was built between 1915 and 1917 for William Bowers Bourn II, owner of one of California's richest gold mines and president of Spring Valley Water Company, supplying San Francisco's water, [4] and his wife, Agnes Moody Bourn. They wanted a country estate nearer to their home in San Francisco. [5] The principal designer, San Francisco architect Willis Polk, used a free Georgian style that incorporated the tiled roofs characteristic of California. [6] Polk had previously designed Bourn's houses in Grass Valley and on Webster Street in San Francisco. [7] Polk's friend, artist and designer Bruce Porter was commissioned to collaborate with the Bourns in planning the gardens, which were laid out between 1917 and 1922. The horticulturist who designed the plantings and fixed the original color schemes was Isabella Worn; she supervised the garden's maintenance for 35 years. [5]

Filoli served as one of the Bourns' residences from 1917 to 1936. The name of the estate is an acronym formed by combining the first two letters from the key words of William Bourn's credo: "Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life." [8]

Bourn's Spring Valley Water Company owned Crystal Springs Reservoir and the surrounding area. Bourn called the Crystal Springs Reservoirs "Spring Valley Lakes" for his company. The original Spring Valley was between Mason and Taylor Streets, and Washington and Broadway Streets in San Francisco, where the water company started. When the company went south for more water, the Spring Valley name was carried south too. [9]

Bourn also owned Muckross House in Ireland and is reputed to have used Muckross as a model for Filoli.

Roth family

Following the deaths of William and Agnes Bourn in 1936, the estate was sold the following year to Mr. William P. Roth and Mrs. Lurline Matson Roth, heiress to the Matson Navigation Company. The Roth family built Filoli's botanic collections of camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas, notably in the Woodland Garden, and added the serene swimming pool and the screened-in teahouse. [10]

Current status

In 1975, Mrs. Roth donated the estate in its entirety to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, with an endowment that helps support annual operating expenses. [11] The estate operates as Filoli Center, a private, non-profit organization with its own Board of Governors, staff and volunteers.


The house is 54,256 square feet,and has 56 rooms total. This includes a ballroom, a reception room, a dining room, cozier family rooms, and servants quarters. While the home was empty when it reached the National Trust, much of the original furniture and art has been donated, to help them recreate the original appearance of the home. [12] This is an ongoing effort; in 2022 they restructured the gentleman's lounge to include new period typical additions to the room and add a recreation of the original wallpaper. [13]


Filoli houses two libraries with resources related to the families and the estate; the Friends Library Collection and the Sterling Library Collection. The Friends Library is a circulation library that holds 1,500 books, 125 videos, lectures, or oral histories, and several copies of movies filmed on the estate. The Sterling Library is a research library with 1,800 books and 40 journals. Both libraries are only open to Filoli members or researchers. [14]


The 16 acres (6.5 ha) of gardens are structured as a series of formally enclosed spaces framed within brick walls and clipped hedges, which open one from another, providing long axial views, in which profuse naturalized plantings of hardy and annual plants contrast with lawns, brick and gravel paths, formal reflecting pools, framed in walls and clipped hedging in box, holly, laurel and yew (illustration, right) and punctuated by massive terracotta pots and many narrowly columnar Irish yews, originally grown on the estate from cuttings. Filoli is an outstanding example of the Anglo-American gardening style reintroducing Italian formality, that was pioneered at the end of the nineteenth century by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll in British gardens and exemplified in the U.S. by designs of Charles A. Platt and Beatrix Farrand. [15]

The gardens extend southeast of the house running up an easy slope. The sunken garden is the first of four main rooms; the rectangular pool at its center that houses hardy and tropical water lilies is flanked by twin panels of lawn and two olive trees, within the hedge of clipped Japanese yew. The walled garden consists of a series of enclosures, including the stained glass window design outlined in clipped box

After it was acquired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975, Filoli has been open for public tours. Attractions include self-guided tours, guided tours, and nature hikes.

The formal gardens include several areas, including the Wedding Place, named for Berenice Roth's wedding location in 1941. Lurline and Berenice both had their wedding receptions at Filoli, but Berenice's wedding is the only one that has ever taken place at Filoli when it was a private home. The largest gardens are working gardens for the production of cut flowers for the mansion and for the growing of some vegetables.


Filoli Gentlemen's Orchard was started by Bourn family in the early 20th century, however the Roth family did not maintain the orchard and by the 1970s it was in poor condition. [16] In 1997, the California Rare Fruit Growers began donating rare plants to restore the orchard. [16] Many of the current 650+ trees in the orchard are lost varieties of fruit and include: 275 varieties of apple trees, 59 pear varieties, 42 peach varieties, 6 medlar, and many more. [16] [17]

Ecology and conservation

Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) on Laguna Creek tower over the oaks (just below Filoli's lower parking lot on main entrance road). Redwoods on Laguna Creek 2012-09-26.jpg
Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) on Laguna Creek tower over the oaks (just below Filoli's lower parking lot on main entrance road).

Laguna Creek, locally known as "Orchard Creek", flows northwest from its origin on the western slope of Edgewood County Park to Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir where its waters eventually join San Mateo Creek, and descend to San Francisco Bay. [18] In November 1769, Laguna Creek was the route of the Portolà expedition as they descended from their discovery of San Francisco Bay on Sweeney Ridge down San Andreas Creek to Laguna Creek and then southeast down the San Francisquito Creek watershed to El Palo Alto. After crossing to the west side of Cañada Road, Laguna Creek is joined on the left (heading downstream) by the South Fork Laguna Creek, then after crossing under the main entrance road to Filoli it is joined by locally named Fault Creek, then Spring Creek (possibly named by Bourn for his Spring Valley Water Company), then on the right by an unnamed creek, then by waters from the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct and Pulgas Water Temple just before entering Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir. Historically, the San Mateo Creek watershed hosted runs of anadromous salmonids, including coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and steelhead trout (coastal rainbow trout) (Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus) coming up from the Bay. In 1877, Laguna Grande, a natural lake on Laguna Creek, was dammed with an earthen causeway [19] (now crossed by Highway 92) blocking further salmonid migration up into Laguna Creek and its tributaries on Filoli. Stream resident rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), continue to run up the creeks of Filoli from the reservoir to spawn. [20]

San Mateo County historian Frank Stanger cited sizeable groves of redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) in the Laguna Creek watershed. In the area around Filoli he described two historic lumber mills. The historic "Smith Mill" on Fault Creek was destroyed by fire in 1854. Pinckney's mill in "the largest gulch", which would be Spring Creek, was built in 1855 and later purchased by S. L. Mastic. Although information on these mills is limited, they support the idea that "the area was thoroughly logged". [21] A large redwood tree remains on Laguna Creek just below the lower Filoli parking lot and on the main entrance road.

Estate Trail

In 2017, Filoli added The Estate Trail, which gives visitors the opportunity to walk through the outer nature preserve of Filoli. This trail passes through the horse pasture, a field of native plants, the former horse barn, and a former barn that has been turned into the Sally MacBride Nature Center. [22] It also leads to a bridge over the San Andreas Fault, which cuts through the property. [23]

Film location

Filoli has served as the set for many Hollywood films. [24] Most famously, it is the mansion seen from the air in the opening credits of the television series Dynasty . The mansion's plush interiors were also featured in the first episodes of the series but were subsequently replicated on sound stages at the Fox Studios, Century City. However the entire mansion served as the setting for the 2006 CBS Television special Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar in which cast members reunited to discuss their memories of the series. It was the first time many of the cast members had been to the actual estate.

Among the many striking mature trees on the grounds are a row of immense Italian Stone Pines and scattered specimen native Coast Live Oaks over 250 years in age, the latter of which are the backdrop for Warren Beatty's outdoor scenes in Heaven Can Wait .

Filoli was featured in Bob Vila's A&E Network production, Guide to Historic Homes of America, [25] as well as in a November 1996 segment of A&E's America's Castles: Garden Estates, the latter being shown continuously at the visitor center. [26]

The house also served as the Stanhope residence in the 1997 film George of the Jungle and was featured in The Game in the same year.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Francisco Peninsula</span> Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Peninsula is a peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area that separates San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. On its northern tip is the City and County of San Francisco. Its southern base is Mountain View, south of Palo Alto and north of Sunnyvale and Los Altos. Most of the Peninsula is occupied by San Mateo County, between San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, and including the cities and towns of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, East Palo Alto, El Granada, Foster City, Hillsborough, Half Moon Bay, La Honda, Loma Mar, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, and Woodside.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Mateo County, California</span> County in California, United States

San Mateo County, officially the County of San Mateo, is a county located in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 764,442. Redwood City is the county seat, and the third most populated city following Daly City and San Mateo. San Mateo County is included in the San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA MSA, Silicon Valley, and is part of the San Francisco Bay Area, the nine counties bordering San Francisco Bay. It covers most of the San Francisco Peninsula. San Francisco International Airport is located in the northeastern area of the county and is approximately 7 miles south of the city and county limits of San Francisco, even though the airport itself is assigned a San Francisco postal address. The county's built-up areas are mostly suburban, and are home to several corporate campuses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Woodside, California</span> Town in California, United States

Woodside is a small incorporated town in San Mateo County, California, United States, on the San Francisco Peninsula. Woodside is among the wealthiest communities in the United States, home to many technology billionaires and investment managers, with average home prices exceeding 10 million dollars. It has a council–manager system of government. The population of the town was 5,309 at the 2020 census.

An estate is a large parcel of land under single ownership, which would historically generate income for its owner.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Willis Polk</span> American architect (1867–1924)

Willis Jefferson Polk was an American architect, best known for his work in San Francisco, California. For ten years, he was the West Coast representative of D.H. Burnham & Company. In 1915, Polk oversaw the architectural committee for the Panama–Pacific International Exposition (PPIE).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crystal Springs Reservoir</span> Northern California Lakes atop the San Andreas Fault

Crystal Springs Reservoir is a pair of artificial lakes located in the northern Santa Cruz Mountains of San Mateo County, California situated in the rift valley created by the San Andreas Fault just to the west of the cities of San Mateo and Hillsborough, and I-280. The lakes are part of the San Mateo Creek watershed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Andreas Lake</span> Reservoir in San Mateo County, California

San Andreas Lake is a reservoir adjacent to the San Francisco Peninsula cities of Millbrae and San Bruno in San Mateo County, California. It is situated directly on the San Andreas Fault, which is named after the valley it is in.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Francisquito Creek</span> River in California, United States

San Francisquito Creek is a creek that flows into southwest San Francisco Bay in California, United States. Historically it was called the Arroyo de San Francisco by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776. San Francisquito Creek courses through the towns of Portola Valley and Woodside, as well as the cities of Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto. The creek and its Los Trancos Creek tributary define the boundary between San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

San Leandro Creek is a 21.7-mile-long (34.9 km) year-round natural stream in the hills above Oakland in Alameda County and Contra Costa County of the East Bay in northern California.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Mateo Creek (San Francisco Bay Area)</span> River in California, United States

San Mateo Creek is a perennial stream whose watershed includes Crystal Springs Reservoir, for which it is the only natural outlet after passing Crystal Springs Dam.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Architectural Resources Group</span>

Architectural Resources Group is a firm that was founded in 1980 by Bruce Judd and Steve Farneth in San Francisco, CA. It began by providing professional services in the fields of architecture and urban planning with particular expertise in the area of historic preservation. In 2000, David Wessel, a Principal of ARG, founded a separate conservation-contracting division, ARG Conservation Services which operates under the same roof as ARG. By 2005, the firm had expanded to a full-service architecture firm with 50+ employees. ARG also opened offices in Pasadena serving Southern California, and Portland, Oregon, serving the Pacific Northwest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Bowers Bourn II</span>

William Bowers Bourn II was an American entrepreneur and socialite. Bourn ran and controlled the Empire Mine and the San Francisco Gas Company, he was an investor in Spring Valley Water Company, and he led a merger to what later became Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Bourn II was the builder of many estates in California, including Filoli, the country estate in San Mateo County, California.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Phleger Estate</span>

The Phleger Estate is a park in San Mateo County, California. The park is located outside the town of Woodside and adjacent to Huddart County Park. The park was acquired in 1991 by the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) for $25 million and is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).

Rancho Cañada de Raymundo was a 12,545-acre (50.77 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day San Mateo County, California given August 4, 1840 to Raimundo, a native of Baja California, who was sent out by the padres of Mission Santa Clara to capture runaway Mission Indians in 1797. On the 1856 Rancho de las Pulgas and 1868 Easton maps, the valley of Laguna Creek was referred to as the Cañada de Raymundo. Laguna Creek was also alternatively known as Cañada Raimundo Creek. In 1841 Rancho Cañada de Raymundo was granted to John Coppinger by Governor Juan Alvarado for helping in the revolt led by Alvarado against the Mexican authorities in Monterey. The two and one half league long by three-quarter league wide grant consisted the eastern slopes and valleys in the present-day Woodside area. The grant began at Alambique Creek, the north border of Rancho Corte de Madera, and extended north to Rancho Feliz. Rancho Cañada de Raymundo was bounded on the east by Rancho de las Pulgas. The rancho contained Laguna Grande, then a natural lake that was the campsite of the Portolà expedition on November 5, 1769, and was bisected by Laguna Creek, which flowed from southeast to northwest through the lake on its way to San Mateo Creek.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bear Creek (San Francisquito Creek tributary)</span> River in California, United States

Bear Creek, or Bear Gulch Creek, is a 6.6-mile-long (10.6 km) southeastward-flowing stream originating north of the summit of Sierra Morena in the Santa Cruz Mountains, near the community of Kings Mountain in San Mateo County, California, United States. It flows through the town of Woodside. Bear Creek and Corte Madera Creek join to become San Francisquito Creek in the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve at Stanford University.

Martin Creek, known locally as Dennis Martin Creek, is a 1.4-mile-long (2.3 km) north by northeastward-flowing stream originating just east of Skyline Boulevard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, near the community of Skylonda in San Mateo County, California. It flows through the town of Woodside before crossing Portola Road and joining Sausal Creek on Stanford University lands just across the border from Woodside. Sausal Creek enters Searsville Reservoir, which flows to San Francisco Bay via San Francisquito Creek.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Andreas Creek</span> River in California, United States

San Andrés Creek, now called San Andreas Creek, is a perennial stream that flows 5.9 miles (9.5 km) southeasterly along the San Andreas Fault from Sweeney Ridge in San Mateo County, California, providing the inflow to and outflow from San Andreas Reservoir, and then entering Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir, where it was a historic tributary to San Mateo Creek. San Mateo Creek then carries its waters over Crystal Springs Dam northeast to San Francisco Bay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laguna Creek (San Mateo County)</span> River in California, United States

Laguna Creek is a perennial stream that flows northwesterly for 2.6-mile (4.2 km) along the San Andreas Fault from Woodside in San Mateo County, California and, after crossing the Phleger Estate and Filoli, enters Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir, where it is a historic tributary to San Mateo Creek. San Mateo Creek then carries its waters over Crystal Springs Dam northeast to San Francisco Bay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lurline Matson Roth</span>

Lurline Matson Roth (1890–1985) was an American heiress, equestrian and philanthropist from San Francisco, California. She competed in horse shows in the United States, and bred award-winning horses. She donated her estate, Filoli, to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bourn Mansion</span> Historic house in San Francisco

Bourn Mansion is a historic home built in 1896, and located at 2550 Webster Street in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, California.


  1. 1 2 "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. 1 2 "Filoli". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-14.
  3. "Filoli Mansion and Gardens". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  4. McDermott, Jeanne (March 1984), "Filoli", Horticulture, pp. 28–35
  5. 1 2 McDermott 1984:30.
  6. Papoulias, Alexander (April 28, 2008), "'Country Elegance' in Woodside", Palo Alto Online
  7. Weinstein, Dave (2009-01-03). "Architect had designs on San Francisco". SFGate. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  8. DeVere, Julia Bly (2017). Filoli: Family Home; Historic Garden; Living Museum. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 11–13. ISBN   9781784421557.
  9. Erwin G. Gudde, William Bright (2004). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. University of California Press. p. 372. ISBN   978-0-520-24217-3 . Retrieved 2012-03-20.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  10. McDermott 1984:31.
  11. Seehaus, Karen (March 9, 2005), "Spring Fling: Ring in spring at one of the Bay Area's own historic treasures", The Wave Magazine, San Jose, California, vol. 05, no. 5, p. 30, archived from the original on September 27, 2007, retrieved July 18, 2007
  12. "The House | Filoli". 2020-09-03. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  13. "Gentlemen's Lounge Restoration | Filoli". 2022-03-19. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  14. "About Library | Filoli Historic House & Garden". Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  15. McDermott 1984.
  16. 1 2 3 Chapman, Robin (2017-01-18). "Silicon Valley Orchardists 2.0". Edible Silicon Valley. Retrieved 2019-06-13.
  17. Lee, Christine (2018). "From apples to oranges". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved 2019-06-13. He volunteers at the Filoli estate in Woodside, maintaining its orchard of more than 650 fruit trees
  18. Alan Hynding (1982). From Frontier to Suburb, The Story of the San Francisco Peninsula. Belmont, California: Star Publishing Company. p. 15. ISBN   978-0-89863-056-5.
  19. Ferol Egan (1998). Last bonanza kings: the Bourns of San Francisco . University of Nevada Press. p.  167. ISBN   978-0-87417-319-2 . Retrieved 2012-03-20.
  20. Christopher Wingate Lanman (2013). Beyond the Back Gate: Filoli's Wild Garden. Los Altos, California. p. 84. ISBN   978-0-615-81816-0 . Retrieved 2014-01-11.
  21. Frank M. Stanger (1967). Sawmills in the Redwoods: Logging on the San Francisco Peninsula, 1849–1967. San Mateo County Historical Association. pp. 56–51.
  22. "Explore Native Plants and the San Andreas Fault on Filoli's Estate Trail | National Trust for Historic Preservation". Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  23. "The Estate | Filoli". 2020-09-03. Retrieved 2022-04-05.
  24. It was the mansion featured in Heaven Can Wait and The Game . The garden was used as a set in George of the Jungle , The Joy Luck Club , and The Wedding Planner .
  25. Bob Vila (1996). "Guide to Historic Homes of America". A&E Network .
  26. America’s Castles "Garden Estates" was filmed at Filoli from April 14 to April 18, 1996. It was first aired on A&E November 24, 1996, Sunday, at 10 p.m. EST. The show featured three homes — Filoli in Woodside, California; Bellingrath Home and Gardens in Mobile, Alabama; and Maymont in Richmond, Virginia. America’s Castles was produced by S. Alex Alexander at Cinetel Productions.