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Room by Room
Explore the House,
room by room. Click on the map numbers to the left to learn more about each room or click on any of the names in the list below.
Filoli's portico exhibits a classical transition from the courtyard to a semi-enclosed space with alcoves and a decorated ceiling. Its two columns are Tuscan order style - simple and rustic, representing agriculture. The selection of the "order" of the columns was the owner's statement about what sort of place it was. (In contrast, Corinthian style represents sophistication.) The columns are made of white Tavernelle marble. The other four half-columns, the elaborate cornice at the intersection of the walls and roof, and the water table used at the main floor line of the house are all made of glazed terra cotta units provided by Gladding, McBean and Company. There are two pocket or siege doors that can be closed to cover the main doors. The two birdbaths on either side of the portico, copied from those found in Pompeii, came from the Bourn's San Francisco house. Potted plants of the season from Filoli greenhouses decorate the portico.
Inside, the uncluttered, oval, high-domed entrance foyer has a beige Tavernelle marble floor edged with Belgian black marble. The walls and ceiling are scored to resemble masonry, making a transition from the portico. Two large cachepots on tall black iron stands (originals from the Bourn time) filled with flowering plants flank the large double doors that lead to the transverse hall and reception room. These doors are oak on the foyer facing side and mahogany on the hall side. To the right is the ladies' waiting/cloak room and to the left is the men's waiting/cloak room.
Ladies' & Men's Waiting Rooms (Cloak Rooms)
Ladies' Waiting Room (Cloak Room)
Mens' Waiting Room (Cloak Room)
Ladies' & Men's Waiting Rooms (Cloak Rooms)
Visitors to Filoli would be ushered into the appropriate waiting room to freshen themselves and leave their coats before being shown in to meet their host and hostess. Each room has a guest bath and closet. In the ladies' waiting room, the north door leads to a room used for storage and flower arranging. Still used for this purpose, it is known as the Flower Arranging Room. It is not open to the public.
The hallway acts as a connector for all major rooms of the house except the ballroom. On the original blueprints, the reception room is considered one with the transverse hall; they are simply called "the hall." The transverse hallway is 174 feet (including the dining room), running the length of the house on a north-south axis. Its length is visually reduced by alternating flat and vaulted ceiling treatments and by the placement of several archways. Note the pineapple (a symbol of hospitality) within the pediment over the entry to the dining room.
The reception room was used for receiving guests and for small scale entertaining. Located directly in front of the main entrance, it is open and spacious, reminiscent of the great halls of earlier times. The concept of the reception room is borrowed from the great hall in the English country house. The aedicules (or door surrounds) in the far corners are the dominant feature of the room. The French doors opposite the main door were the main entrance to the garden from the house. The beautiful parquet floor of the reception room is laid in Louis XIV Versailles mosaic style. The wall covering is similar to grasscloth with a silkscreen Italian Renaissance pattern and is the original 1917 wall covering. The draperies are original from 1917. The fireplace has an 18th century Italian mantel of classic design of white Carrara marble with quarter-inch inlay of fossiliferous orange-red Verona marble. The doors that lead to the library and the drawing room are magnificent architectural pieces with Corinthian columns on either side, mounted by a pillow-block-style entablature and a swan-neck pediment with carved scrolls. The walls and ceiling are joined by a carved frieze and cornice of carved modillions. On the wall above the fireplace is a tapestry that belonged to both the Bourns and the Roths.
Breakfast Room (Ship Room)
Breakfast Room (Ship Room).
Breakfast Room (Ship Room)
This room was designated the "breakfast room" on the original blueprints. It was undoubtedly used as a vantage point by the butler in order to observe the front door and arriving guests. Access to the entrance foyer is through a semi-hidden door (called a "jib door") leading into the men's waiting room. The breakfast room, now known as the "ship room," offers visitors an interesting collection of ship models from the Melville Martin collection (see Appendix 7: House Reference Materials for more details) to emphasize the maritime background of the Roths. Lurline Matson Roth's father, Captain William Matson, was the founder of Matson Navigation Company in the late 1800s. Memorabilia from Matson Lines luxury cruises to Hawaii and Tahiti before 1960 are often displayed in the large cabinet.
The kitchen was used for the preparation of all food for family, guests, and staff. At times three meals were prepared for dinner: an early one for the children, one for the family (and guests), and one for the staff. Family and guests were served from the butler's pantry into the dining room and staff meals were served from a small pantry located in the staff wing beyond the service porch. There are two small rooms in the kitchen: the one on the left was a walk-in cold storage ice room, the other a pastry room. Tony, the Woodside iceman, delivered ice daily in the 1920s to Filoli. (Even though Filoli always had electricity, originally it did not have electrical refrigeration.) In the kitchen, the high 17-foot coved ceiling keeps the room cool. The large electric stove, destined for one of the Matson ships, was installed at Filoli during World War II after the original oil-fired stove could not be repaired. The framed pictures are menu covers from the Matson Navigation Company. They have been donated to Filoli by friends who enjoyed the luxury of a trip to Hawaii aboard the Lurline or the Monterey. The wing beyond the kitchen contained servants quarters: 10 bedrooms, 3 baths, and a combined living/dining room. This part of the house is now used for membership and administrative offices.
From the staff's viewpoint, the Butler's Pantry was the operational heart of the house. This room was used to plate and serve the food, wash and store the china and stemware, and to polish and store the silver. The callboard still bears the names of the Roth family. A family member would press a button which would ring a bell and light up the board, indicating the room location, and someone would be sent immediately to that room. The cupboards and safe contain a variety of plates, glasses, pewter and silver. Most are donations to Filoli Center by a variety of donors. A 1896 Tiffany silver service for 18 made for Mr. and Mrs. Bourn is kept elsewhere. The dumbwaiter in the corner was used to send food and laundry to the second floor. The center table has practical storage for linens in drawers that go all the way through the table. The Roths installed the turquoise-blue linoleum floor, metal cabinets, dishwasher, and an additional stove between 1959-61 in order to modernize the kitchen and butler's pantry. The plate warmer is an original appliance.
The dining room was used both for daily informal dining and for formal dinners requiring a long table. The room is paneled in dark-stained oak with carved moldings. Eight Louis XIV style sconces on the walls match the chandelier in the center of the ceiling. The oak wood floor has a wide edging band of parquet in a basket weave pattern. The large fireplace has a French Escalette marble surround with carved belicion corners. A large three-paneled screen hides the two swinging doors to the butler's pantry. The screen frame once contained a French tapestry. It was sold at auction and has been replaced by a needlepoint design depicting scenes from the gardens done by the Tuesday Stitchers of the Assistance League of San Mateo County. The dining table and painting over the fireplace are original to the Bourn era. The china cupboard belonged to Mrs. Roth's mother. The curtains are 1917 Italian silk in a mauve floral pattern. The painting above the fireplace is Still Life with Dead Game by the Dutch artist, Jan Weenix, painted in 1703. This type of painting was typical in country homes, reflecting the owner's wealth and status.
The Drawing Room was designed as a ladies' withdrawing room after dinner while the men remained at the dining table for brandy and cigars. This room has had several names through the years, reflecting its various uses. Mrs. Bourn, an accomplished pianist, used it as a music room. Later it became known as the French room because of the French furniture and the many 19th century French mezzotints that once hung on the walls. A concealed door, called a jib door, in the south corner of the wall permitted staff access to the room to serve the ladies coffee while the men were still in the dining room. The floor is quarter-sawn oak, Louis XV parquet pattern, and the walls are covered in a textured, beige linen. The delicately carved Carrara marble fireplace mantel is low in proportion to the room and gives a feeling of intimacy. The light, airy twin crystal chandeliers are Louis XV design with bronze bobeches (collars to catch dripping wax). Equally delicate matching sconces hang on either side of the fireplace and between the windows. The original 1917 draperies are Italian silk and woven with an exuberant pattern of colorful flowers. The Adam style mirror that hangs over the fireplace, chandeliers, sconces, and drapes are original to the house.
Filoli's library is a copy of the library at Denham Place, England. The plan and arrangement of wall panels, bookcases, and borders carved in a floral pattern were copied from this English house built in 1690. The reproduction of the room was produced by Lenygon and Morant and purchased by Mr. Bourn. The panels were purchased from the East Coast and shipped to Filoli. The wall paneling and floor of the library are black American walnut. The floor is laid in an alternating herringbone pattern to create a changing effect of light and dark stripes depending on the position of the viewer. Additional shelving and storage is provided behind the closed panel doors. The double doors leading to the transverse hall have intricately carved paneling, and the moldings around the door frames are a charming pattern of roses, tulips, and daisies intertwined with leaves. The fireplace mantel is a light Tavernelle marble. The Isfahan patterned rug was hand-woven in Agra, India for Queen Victoria's home, Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight. It was purchased in England by the Bourns. The library contains some books that belonged to the Bourns (including the classics and books on World War I) and the Roths (especially horse-related publications). The rest were donated.
Mr. Bourn used the Study as his home office. It is the most intimate room in the downstairs area and was a favorite room of the Roth family. The oak paneled walls set off the delicately carved statuary and white Carrara marble fireplace surround. The floor is oak, patterned with a gouging plane and stained in a popular style from the early 1900s. This technique was done once the floorboards had been laid into place. Concealed in the paneling to the right of the fireplace is a door to a safe that was converted to a wine cellar by the Roth family. On the left side of the fireplace concealed in the paneling is a closet where Mr. Bourn kept his business records. In 1946 the Roths made this closet into a convenient bar with a sink and small refrigerator. The Irish red deer head over the door was shot at Muckross by Arthur Vincent in October, 1910. Over the fireplace is a portrait of Mrs. Roth painted in 1981 by Lloyd Sexton, a well-known Hawaiian painter and friend of Mrs. Roth.
The grand staircase is the most important architectural element at the north end of the transverse hall. Its impact is stronger because it is unseen from the main entrance and must be discovered. The forty risers leading up to the second floor are of black Belgian marble with a balustrade of filigree wrought iron. Each of the first four steps is carved from a solid piece of marble. The rest of the stairs are made of two-inch-thick marble treads and risers. On the wall by the stairs hangs a Flemish tapestry depicting the end of the Greek tale of the Sabine women, a gift of the Bourns' grandson, AWB Vincent. On the left side of the stair landing on the mezzanine floor is a suite of rooms - bedroom, sitting room and bath labeled on the original plans as the "first best guest bedroom." The door in the center of the landing between the Corinthian columns leads to a small sheltered patio. The door on the right of the landing leads to a storeroom.
Card Room (Trophy Room)
Card Room (Trophy Room).
Mr. Bourn originally used this as a card room and lounge. The Roths converted the room into a display area for a growing collection of silver horseshow trophies, some of which were donated back to Filoli by the Roth family. Through the door is a hallway displaying pictures and objects from "Why Worry Farm," the Roths' horse farm in Woodside. The farm had no name and that seemed to bother people. Mrs. Matson (Mrs. Roth's mother) said, "Why worry about it?" Hence, the name. The floor is oak with a bow-tie inlay pattern. The fireplace of rouge marble is in French Empire style.
This small room was used by the Roths as a preparation and holding room for food that was to be served in the Ballroom. Originally the room was a sitting room, or retreat, for ladies attending a party. Today the room is used to display rotating portions of the Filoli collections.
The ballroom is the largest room in the house, measuring 70' x 32' with a ceiling height of approximately 22' 6". The Bourns and Roths used the room for large-scale entertaining.
The decoration of the ballroom was not complete when the Bourns moved into Filoli in September, 1917. The walls were a cream-colored base paint waiting to be finished but Mr. Bourn's interests lay in the planting of the garden and in his many business enterprises. In the summer of 1921 Bourn had a stroke while visiting the Empire Mine and had just recovered when he had a second stroke, which left him paralyzed without the use of his legs or voice. Mrs. Bourn, with the help of her daughter, Maud Vincent, and Ernest Peixotto, planned the completion of the ballroom as Bourn was not well enough to cope with it. The scenes of Muckross were chosen because Mr. Bourn was not well enough to travel to this special place.
Painting of the Ladies' View from the Upper Killarney Lake
at Muckross in Ireland.
Ernest Peixotto, a well-established, San Francisco-born artist and writer, was a good friend of Maud and well-known to the Bourns. Maud and Peixotto selected from Baques & Co. in Paris the magnificent crystal chandeliers, which are copies of those that hung in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles during the signing of the Peace Treaty in 1920. Maud and Peixotto were sent the Baques & Co. catalog and selected the two chandeliers with wooden cores as they were less expensive than glass versions. Six elaborate crystal wall sconces with amethyst colored crystal drops complete the illumination of the ballroom. The sconces however, do have glass cores.
Peixotto had visited Filoli for a week, during which time he studied the ballroom before he painted the murals. He also created to scale a maquette, a table-sized preliminary model of the ballroom, to gauge the general appearance of the room with his planned murals in place. This maquette was inherited by Peixotto's nephew, General Ernest D. Peixotto, who had no idea what room it represented until he saw the ballroom in the movie "Heaven Can Wait" and the movie credited Filoli, a property of The National Trust for Historic Preservation, as the setting. Through the National Trust, General Peixotto gave the maquette to Filoli Center, where it is displayed in the ballroom.
Painting of Brickeen Bridge, between
Upper Killarney Lake and Lower Killarney
Lake at Muckross Estate in Ireland.
The five murals were painted by Ernest Peixotto in his New York City studio on canvas from sketches made in a visit to Muckross. The completed murals were then rolled up and shipped by train to Filoli in 1925. Peixotto supervised their installation and completed the painted decorations in the Ballroom.
The two panels over the doors on either side of the fireplace are of the two major waterfalls which pour into the Killarney Lakes. The one on the left side is of Torc Waterfall and the one on the right is Sullivan's Cascade. The deer below the falls are large Irish red deer.
Painting of Muckross House.
The large French Baroque-style fireplace surround is carved brecciated Italian Machiavelli or Sarrancolin marble decorated with ormulu decorations of the head of Hercules and Nemean lions' heads molded to fit the marble. The surround was made to order by Baques & Co. to Peixotto's specifications and took seven months to complete. The two 18th century urns on the mantel piece are matching brecciated Italian Machiavelli or Sarrancolin marble and were selected by Maud and Peixotto in Paris.
The French cast iron fireback in the fireplace, added by the Roths, protects the fire bricks and gives additional heat into the room. To heat the Ballroom for entertaining during the winter, the fireplace was kept burning twenty-four hours in advance, making the room very comfortable. The one furnace vent in the room is below the window at the far end of the ballroom and keeps the room at the correct temperature for the murals during the winter months.
Painting of Muckross Abbey.
At the far end of the room, the mirrored doors lead to storage areas and stairs to the basement area under the Ballroom.
Maud selected the cut velvet draperies, woven with gold and silver metallic threads and edged with heavy metallic fringe. The weight of the material and its decoration causes the drapes to be very fragile and they have already undergone two rounds of conservation by Filoli Center.
The walls are a lovely water-green with gold decoration adding a feeling of richness and warmth to the stateliness of the room. Mrs. Bourn referred to the color of the walls as "water-green" in her letters to Peixotto. Mrs. Bourn, despite the intent of Peixotto, had "a tiny bit of gold leaf" added to the room.
The decoration of the ballroom was finally completed in 1926.
Please note: The upstairs, basement and attic are not currently open to the public. The Sterling Library and the Friends' Library located on the second floor are open to members of Filoli by appointment only.
There are two basement areas: one under the house and servants' wing, and the other under the ballroom, with a crawl space in between. The laundry rooms are located under the kitchen with access to the Service Courtyard. A wine cellar houses approximately 3,000 bottles of wine. The house is heated by two diesel oil fired boilers located in the basement, which also heat the circulating hot water throughout the house.
The attic is a large open area with six dormer windows for light. The fireplace flues lead to their appropriate chimneys in the attic.