Photos: Landmark 74-acre ‘Green Gables’ estate asks $135 million in Silicon Valley

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Photos: Landmark 74-acre ‘Green Gables’ estate asks $135 million in Silicon Valley

By Wendy Bowman | Variety

Ever wish walls could talk? Well, if the ones within this historic Woodside, Calif., property built in the early 1900s for prominent San Francisco businessman and philanthropist Mortimer Fleishhacker Sr. could speak, they most assuredly would have their share of fascinating tales to spin. Think stories of distinguished guests roaming the halls during the compound’s heyday as the site of the United Nations’ 20th anniversary commemoration gala in 1965, for instance.

Or maybe those walls could offer some keen insight into the secret lives of the countless dignitaries who have visited the storied estate at some point during the past 100 years — from U.S. politicians and world leaders, to the Crown Prince of Sweden, numerous ambassadors and more.

So, who exactly is the man behind what would one day become one of the most extravagant private compounds in all of Silicon Valley? Fleishhacker was the founder of the Anglo California Bank and Great Western Power Co., as well as the Community Chest (now known as United Way). He also served as a trustee of the University of California, and shortly before his death in 1953, he formed a foundation to fund performing and visual arts groups, and literacy programs for disadvantaged students.

As for how the compound came into existence, he was simply seeking an idyllic place to escape San Francisco’s dreary foggy summers. According to his great grandson, Italian marketing executive Marc Fleishhacker, he headed south of the city to find a plot of land for a future vacation retreat in 1907 and settled on the perfect spot just 30 miles away. Then he set about to amass nine contiguous parcels to create what today is known as Green Gables (named for the popular children’s book).

And it is indeed the stuff of storybooks. Constructed in 1911, the compound has remained in the Fleishhacker family for five generations, with its members now deciding to part with their shares of the land for a whopping $135 million. For that price, the new owner will gain a spectacular English manor-style main residence (affectionately referred to as the “big house”) designed by celebrated Craftsman-style architects and brothers Charles and Henry Greene, along with six additional dwellings, and expansive grounds punctuated by formal gardens and natural woodlands teeming with native California shrubs and flowers.

Inspired by Fleishhacker and his wife Bella’s extensive travels to the English countryside, the estate’s design is based on the dreamy Tudor cottages the couple fell in love with in England’s Cotswold region. At nearly 10,000 square feet, the main home is ground zero for this beautiful design aesthetic, replete with a thatched roof, light-filled interiors and large windows offering views of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Many of the furnishings were selected by esteemed New York designer Elsie de Wolfe, whose clients included Amy Vanderbilt, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Surrounding the main home is a magnificent 60-by-300-foot Roman pool introduced by a lily pond, and framed by stone stairways and arched grottoes. Among the property’s other structures: a rustic, two-story tea and dairy house; six-bedroom, William Wurster-designed residence Fleishhacker built for his daughter in the 1930s; duo of existing 1860s homes that were updated and occupied by staff; and former butler’s residence now used by the estate manager. The final structure built on the property in the 1970s is known as the Oak Valley home, and it has its own pool and in-law suite.

“Green Gables is over a hundred years old, but it is an incomparable modern-day compound that meets the most exacting requirements of today’s most discerning buyers with its privacy, security, space and accessibility,” says listing agent Zackary Wright of Christie’s International Real Estate. “The family has carefully protected and maintained this grand estate.”

The probable future inhabitants perfectly suited to this peerless family compound, vacation getaway, or maybe even winery or corporate retreat? “Woodside’s proximity to the high-tech hub of Silicon Valley, combined with its climate and beautiful natural setting, makes it the ideal community for wealthy business leaders,” says Wright, “and the unique expanse of Green Gables specifically makes it a rare parcel, ideal for private living and well-being.” In essence: tech billionaires and venture capitalists, here’s your chance to own one of California’s legacy estates.

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Photos: Landmark 74-acre ‘Green Gables’ estate asks $135 million in Silicon Valley


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