Pat Abshire, Jim Walberg & Ann Marie Nugent Present
Magnificent Hillsborough Mansion - Offered at: $29,000,000
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The Estate: Originally designed by the noted architect David Adler for Mrs. Celia Tobin Clark, one of the Peninsula’s most prominent families of the early 20th Century, this magnificent estate evokes all the ambience and grandeur of another era. Featured as a Decorator Showcase in the early 1990's, this circa 1930 mansion has been meticulously renovated with a superb level of fine craftsmanship, architectural design and interior finishes.
Secluded from view behind classic wrought-iron gates, one enters the grounds of this estate through a dramatic lighted cobblestone drive into a large motor court with a spectacular stone fountain- a truly grand entrance for the most elegant of galas.
An elegant black and white marble reception foyer greets guests, with a carved balustrade staircase leading to opulent public rooms- a banquet-sized formal dining room with carved marble fireplace and oversized French Doors leading to the Loggia and Grand Terrace, a cozy Library with 17th Century English paneling and the crowning glory- the Music Room. This spectacular chamber, which is 55 feet long and is crowned by 15 foot ceilings with exquisite three dimensional decorations, features antique parquet-de-Versailles floorings, triple gold-gilt moldings, matching fireplaces, Bay Windows and French doors leading to the Grand Terrace.
Other features of the mansion include 12 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, four kitchens, four luxurious master quarters, a VIP suite (host in Presidents and past to Heads of State), a handsome Bar Room, separate Guest Apartment, Wine Vault, Exercise Room and a huge Recreation/Media Room. The property also enjoys a six car garage and state-of-the-art systems, including sound, lighting, security and intercom throughout.
Viewing the city lights surrounding San Francisco Bay, the 6-acre grounds featuring a Grand Terrace, rolling lawns, pool with guest house, a Rose Garden and manicured formal gardens with statuary. The exquisitely landscaped grounds are also fully lighted, wired for sound throughout and completely secured and gated. We would be glad to arrange a private showing for only the most discriminating and qualified buyer.
The Location: The town of Hillsborough was founded in the late 19th Century, when San Francisco’s most prominent families flocked to the area to build summer estates, drawn by its scenic beauty. Some of the world’s greatest estates were built in the early days of Hillsborough, of which a few rare precious ones remain today- an irreplaceable testament to an era of architectural greatness. Since that time, Hillsborough has become one of the world’s most exclusive enclaves treasured for its scenic beauty and relaxed California lifestyle - truly an idyllic oasis in the midst of one of the world’s most important financial, technological and cultural centers.
History of the Tobin Clark Estate: In the gallery, the floor is marble, laid without mortar, point to point, to create a deep pattern of optical illusion. The walls are dowel-joined Jacobean paneling, purchased through Stair and Andrew in London. Eighteenth-Century English oak surrounds the gentleman’s cloak room, where special shallow cupboards were fashioned to hold shaving mugs. For the master sitting room, the owner and architect chose oak paneling, circa 1724, from Royal House Cononley; and the chandelier, constructed a few years later, is Waterford, purchased from a descendant of the actor Edmund Kean. Pine carving attributed to Grinling Gibbons, woodcarver to St. Paul’s Cathedral under Sir Christopher Wren, and matching eighteenth-century pine bookcases grace to library, featured in Helen Comstock’s one hundred Most Beautiful Rooms in America.
For more than sixty years, the Hillsborough Mansion with the unassuming name “House-on-Hill” has been cited as one of the most spectacular private residences ever created, and one that is certainly without peer in its fine antique English style. In the 1920s, Mrs. Tobin Clark, an heiress to the Hibernia Bank fortune, commissioned architect David Adler to create a Cotswold Tudor Mansion on a secluded hilltop of some four hundred acres just south of San Francisco. Full-grown trees were transplanted from as far away as the Monterey Peninsula, rose terraces and formal courtyards were laid out amid the oak groves and lawns, and multiple-trunk olive trees were pruned to dip low over matching reflecting pools set in a stone terrace. Completely by hand,,, an architectural treasure was built- all mellowed brick, Carmel stone and half timbers on the outside, with thirty-five thousand square feet of honey-colored woods, silver, crystal, leaded glass and four hundred year old parquetry on the inside.
It has been written that for several years prior to building the Mansion, Mrs. Clark had been collecting ideas, clippings, photographs and other inspirations for her home. And it is known that during its somewhat lengthy construction, the estate pulled many local laborers and one failing planning mill right through the Depression. In two years alone, more than on million dollars was poured into the local economy, and at least three area firms were spared from bankruptcy.
Upon completion in 1931, the home was filled with interior decor by Syrie Maugham (wife of Somerset), paintings by Van Dyke and Sir Joshua Reynolds, Queen Anne paneling, eighteenth century Chinese wall coverings, a rare Dubois writing table and over two hundred other items sent from England and the Continent. In the first gala she hosted at House-on-Hill, Mrs. Clark hired the Pro Arte Quartet of Brussels to play in the fifty-five foot grand salon. One subsequent autumn evening, two baffled journalists, who mistakenly had been sent by LIFE Magazine to do a feature on the “typical” American Home, arrived to find a busy staff preparing for a private concert that was to be given that night by the Budapest String Quartet.
Nothing ordinary happened here, even in the kitchen which, it has been written, “was inviolate except to the cook, who presented meals with the help of a two-story pantry and walk-in silver vault, with daily menus hand-lettered in French by the butler”. Many today still remember the night when Karine Albert, Mrs. Clark’s granddaughter, made her debut into society. Hundreds of guests were surrounded in a scene of Elizabethan finery, complete with verdant swags of ivy, sculpted topiary, pillars trailing satin ribbons and heraldic devices, wines from the estate cellar and food which this night, like another, was nothing less than superb. It was considered the party of the decade.
Though it has been more than twenty-five years since Mrs. Tobin Clark’s death, the estate still exudes a spectacular energy and elegance. Walking through the thirty room interior with its eleven fireplaces, sitting beneath the archways of the loggia, strolling about the gardens or basking by the pool, one is awed by the decades of labor and love devoted to the estate. It has been called a “priceless monument to the better things in life”.
With a prized view overlooking San Francisco’s Lower Bay and the rolling landscape for to the west, House-on-Hill now rests on a more manageable six acres, without the original Adler-designed sixteen-stall stables, ten-car garage and “laundry group”. Little else, though, has been sacrificed, and the house remains quietly tucked away behind the espaliered magnolias and majestic pines of a cherished Hillsborough setting.