Contact Filoli | eNewsletter Sign Upshopping cart

donate now login
login
Filoli is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Garden History

The Bourns' Vision

Mr. and Mrs. William Bowers Bourn had, for many years, anticipated building an estate in the country where they could finally enjoy their retirement; but the War, travels, business, and family obligations had kept them from realizing their dream. Then, in 1915, after years of collecting ideas, they were ready to apply their vision towards planning a project that, in Mr. Bourn's own words, “might be interesting a few hundred years from now.”

Explore FiloliView Towards Sundial in Walled Garden, cir. 1930's

Compared to many other country places being built on the San Francisco Peninsula, Filoli was more of a gentleman's farm. Located outside the town of Woodside, it was considered quite remote compared to the more popular suburban locations of Hillsborough and Burlingame, both linked to San Francisco by a commuter rail line. The scale of the House and Garden was also smaller in comparison, but the acreage was larger.

Filoli was designed to include many of the elements you would expect on an English country estate. In addition to a formal garden, plenty of space was allocated for a large working kitchen garden with espaliered fruits, berry cages, vegetable garden, cutting garden and greenhouses. There was a farm group constructed with a superintendent's house, stable for draft horses, cook house and dormitory for the men. The 10-acre gentlemen's orchard, with its rare collection of fruit and cellar, was a significant feature placed in a prominent location right along the entry drive. A stone corporation yard was built to house farm vehicles and there were fowl houses for raising Mr. Bourn's favorite breed of Chanticleer chickens. There were two cow barns on the site and pasture for Mr. Bourn's flocks of sheep which not only added landscape value, but kept the vegetation down, reduced fire hazard and helped keep the landscape views open.

Filoli had the distinction of being one of the last country places built on the San Francisco Peninsula and the one that survived the longest in its original design.