Last Sunday, Candice and I spent the afternoon with our daughter Claire at Filoli, the National Trust historic site in Woodside, California. We were visiting before the two of us headed off to Southeast Asia for a National Trust Tour where I’m one of the study tour leaders. It was a very satisfying afternoon.
For readers not familiar with Filoli, here’s the basic description of the estate from the National Trust website:
Filoli is an expansive landscape situated on the unceded ancestral lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone. Today, this estate serves as a community cultural center open daily to the public. The estate boasts 654 acres of beauty nestled along the slopes of California’s coastal range.
Originally built as a private residence in 1917, Filoli was opened to the public in 1977 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The property is considered one of the finest remaining country estates of the 20th century, featuring a 54,000+ square-foot Georgian revival-style mansion, 16 acres of exquisite English Renaissance gardens, a 6.8-acre Gentleman’s Orchard, and a nature preserve with eight miles of hiking trails.
Filoli is dedicated to connecting our rich history with a vibrant future through beauty, nature and shared stories, so that one day all people will honor nature, value unique experiences, and appreciate beauty in everyday life. Filoli’s mission and vision strive to live Mr. Bourn’s original credo authentically: to fight for a just cause, love your fellow man, and live a good life.
While I’ve been to Filoli many times, the new interpretation entitled Blue Gold told the site’s story in ways that opened it up for so many more people to understand. The place was packed — we parked in the overflow parking lot — and the visitors who came learned about how the privilege of water helped build this magnificent home and estate.
Not only did the exhibit provide great historical detail, but many panels brought the story up to the present and helped us look toward the impacts of climate change in the future. There were interpretive panels on drought and sustainable gardening techniques, among many others. The new interpretation was funded by a grant from the NTHP Interpretation and Education Fund.
This is a big step forward in understanding Filoli’s past and its relevance for today. Kudos to Filoli CEO Kara Newport and all involved.
More to come…