San Francisco Chronicle: House and gardens, traditions and innovation come together at Filoli during holidays

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For many on the Bay Area Peninsula, the year isn’t complete without a visit to Filoli. The 107-year-old historic landmark in Woodside is best remembered in popular culture as the stately mansion used in the 1980s prime-time soap opera “Dynasty,” but locals know that the Willis Polk-designed Georgian Revival house and 16 acres of majestic English Renaissance style gardens get transformed into a holiday wonderland every November.

“When people come, they expect us to live up to our motto,” said Kevin Wisney, Filoli’s director of museums collections and curator. “The holidays at Filoli aren’t done until they’re overdone.”

At the helm of the seasonal transformation are Wisney, who is also in charge of decorating the interior of the house, and formal garden manager Haley O’Connor, who oversees the outdoors. Since the estate was gifted to California by Lurline Matson Roth and opened to the public as a nonprofit in 1975, spectacular holiday decor has been a staple. Both the gardens and house are decked out with ornaments, garlands and lights in a process that takes almost the entire month of November.

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