|The Library on the main floor of the House will be closed until late June.|
The Roths at Filoli
In 1937 the Roths purchased Filoli and its furnishings from the Bourn estate, selling excess furnishings at auction in San Francisco. Keeping Why Worry Farm for the stabling and tending of the horses, the family moved in to Filoli. At age 19, young Bill, although already at college, had the suite of rooms off the main staircase landing. The twins' bedroom had an adjoining sitting room. Because the twins had a wonderful screened-in sleeping porch at Why Worry Farm, Mrs. Roth had an upstairs porch at Filoli enclosed for them. However, because it was directly over the noisy kitchen and overlooked the garage, the sleeping porch was rarely used. It later was used as an aviary for Mrs. Roth's many caged birds. (The porch enclosure has since been removed.)
Filoli was very much a family home for the Roths and their three children. The debut party of the twins on their eighteenth birthday in September 1939 was one of many memorable balls at Filoli. Other grand occasions included Berenice's wedding and reception in September 1941 (Filoli's only wedding), and Lurline's wedding reception in November 1943.
At Filoli Mrs. Roth took a great interest in her garden. She ordered seeds, kept records of everything she planted and began adding new plants to the gardens. Bella Worn, who worked with the Bourns on the original selection of plants for the gardens, came out of semi-retirement to work with Mrs. Roth and continued to come to Filoli weekly until just before her death at age 81 in 1950. Some of Mrs. Roth's favorite new acquisitions were magnolias, maples, roses, rhododendrons and camellias. She filled the house with arrangements of flowers from the gardens and plants from the greenhouses, a tradition that continues today.
Mr. Roth loved walking through the garden each morning before work, talking with Louis Mariconi, the head gardener, and getting the “first bloom” for his lapel. He loved to cook and especially to barbecue for the family.
Roth had a minor stroke in 1943. In 1946 the swimming pool was added for his exercise and rehabilitation, and quickly became a favorite summer gathering spot. Designed and developed by Mrs. Roth and Bella Worn to fit into the overall garden plan, the pool and its surrounding plantings seem today to have been part of the original design.
Bill Roth continued to have small strokes. In 1945 he was named Chairman of the Board of Matson Navigation Company. He retired from the company in 1962 and died in 1963 at age 83.
During these years the twins would come to Filoli with their own families on Thursdays and Sundays for dinner and to stay the night. Grandchildren played in the upstairs hall, using bolsters for horse jumps and the basement and attic for hide-and-seek.
All of the Roth family rode, and the children had horses from the time they were very young. At Filoli each member of the family had a trail horse or pony (often a Christmas present from Mrs. Roth) for local riding.
Mrs. Roth made the Filoli Garden known worldwide and hosted many distinguished visitors, including botanical and horticultural societies, garden clubs and other organizations. In 1973 Mrs. Roth was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal of the Garden Clubs of America for her achievements as a collector.