Greene & Greene Virtual Archives
Mortimer Fleishhacker Estate
Woodside, California, 1911-12
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Mortimer Fleishhacker, Sr. Estate
Woodside, California

The Fleishhacker family's country estate south of San Francisco stands intact today as the most extensive design ever conceived by Greene & Greene. Ironically, the Fleishhackers did not particularly like the Greenes' Pasadena houses, which they thought “too Japanese.” The Fleishhackers specifically requested that the Greenes design for them an English-style house, with a "thatched roof, if possible," and included the landscaping and gardens with the commission. The main residence, designed primarily for summer use, was constructed around a dog-leg plan under a hipped roof, the main axis parallel to the front elevation and the rear terrace. The Fleishhackers did not care for the Greenes' legendary wooden interiors, but requested instead a white-tinted plaster finish throughout, with any wood trim also to be painted white. Furniture was not part of the Greenes' initial commission, the family preferring to engage the decorating services of Elsie de Wolfe for the bedrooms, and Vickery, Atkins & Torrey for the furnishing of the dining room. A game room addition was designed and furnished by Charles Greene in 1923-25. The genius of the Fleishhacker estate plan is in the harmony between the house and its gardens. On the south side of the house, a deep and broad terrace surrounded the immense oak tree against which the house was originally sited. Beyond a brick balustrade, steps lead past platforms with Greene-designed planters to a formal terraced lawn. Two long gravel paths, several feet below the level of the terrace, divide the main lawn into three sections and create separate axial views from the hall and the dining room. These views terminate at a reflecting pool, beyond which lie the stone stairs and retaining wall that lead to the spectacular, Italian-inspired water garden and arcade below.