pahavit (pahavit) wrote,

Fremont Older Woodhills Open House

Fremont Older Woodhills Open House

Before Fremont Older Open Space Preserve was a preserve, some rich newspaper editor guy named Fremont Older and his wife Cora built a nice house there. Designed and built in 1914 by architect Frank Delos Wolfe, the house was quite unusual for the time. Instead of the Edwardian style common during that era, the house looks remarkably mid-(20th)century modern. The Olders hosted many literary, artistic, and political guests during their years in the home. It has been painstakingly restored by a retired Cupertino newspaperman and his family. Now a private residence, it is opened once a year for an open house. On Sunday D. and I took a tour, and I took these pics.

As the tour van pulls up to the house, we see the pond out in front.

Docent Susan consults her notes in the living room as she tells us about the property's restoration efforts.

The house had been vacant and in disrepair when the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District obtained the property and it almost got razed.  Not all of the original furnishings could be located, so French-style antique furniture had to be purchased to complete the look of the living room.  Here's some of the stuff in it.

The sconces are original, though.

This is Cora Older's desk in the living room, with the guest book open to some famous signatures (noted author and poet Carl Sandberg among them).

This is the "communications center," with the original hand-crank telephone (no longer in use).

Who shot Liberty Valance? This valance in the dining room was recreated from historic photographs by the Saratoga Stitchery Guild.

Here's the centerpiece in the dining room.

Here's an eclectic statue in the dining room

As we cross through the living room to the rest of the house, we get a peek at the garden, with another tour group ahead of us in it.

The music room.

The Levines, who live there now, are big opera buffs and the room is full of opera CDs and magazines.

A Greek-looking bust in the music room.

This is a private residence, not a museum, so there are no tags or labels on the art.  I have no idea who this is a bust of or who the artist is.

Likewise with this poster.

A corner of the music room has an intriguing statue.

Her face is so utterly serene and inner-directed.

*envious sigh*

Here's an embroidered folk art pillow in the music room

Here's Fremont Older's study.

Here's a copy of the December 12, 1912 edition of the San Francisco Bulletin newspaper, which Fremont Older edited.  He was very forward-thinking and he brought some innovative and pioneering concepts to his term, such as the use of large, bold headlines, and spinning news stories to appeal to the reader's emotions.  He was a crusader for social fairness and was open-minded to changing his stance on issues if presented with rational reasons to change.

Some of the items in the news that day:
'Legal Murder Is Denounced, Begin Battle For Humanity'
'Little Boy Is Killed While Playing Cowboy'
'Noted Pianiste To Play In Concert'

And a couple of the ads:
Boys' Suits $4.95
Full Quart Golden Wedding rye whisky $1.10

Fremont Older.

Cora Older.

A painting in the hallway.

In the guest room known as the Blue Room, a fake Romanian princess once visited for several years (she was broke and had no place else to go, and Cora had a kind heart).  Here's some of the art in that room.

(Holy smokes, that's one fugly painting. )

On our way upstairs we pass by the master bedroom, where the Levines live, and which is off-limits to the tour.

After seeing a couple of other unremarkable rooms, we step onto a rooftop terrace.

Next we visit the garden.

This ceramic art piece commemorates Cora Older's deceased brother and companion animals.

Cora Older liked ceramic stuff.  She liked to visit a San Jose tile factory to pick up broken pieces to incorporate into the garden.  Here are some of the funkier things in the garden.

Don't ask what's in this bottle. I have absolutely no idea WTH this is, and I'm not about to ask the docent. 

A lion fountain.

Looking at the house from the end of the garden.

Taking a path up the hill in back of the house we get a sense of what the view must have been like for the Olders before all the trees grew up so tall.

Some of the plants growing along the path behind the house.

Along a wisteria-covered walkway, we see a series of stone benches with the odd broken crockery mosaics that Cora Older apparently loved so much.


Looking back along the wisteria walkway toward the house.

A couple more stone benches.

Cherub looks a little bleary-eyed to me. 

The garden and some of the paths have stone steps and walls built by Italian stonemasons.

As we head back toward the front of the house we pass by some lovely mystery fleurs.

Another view of the pond we saw when we first arrived at the house.

The blossoms on this smoke tree really do look like puffs of smoke.

Manzanita means little apple, and it's easy to see how the shrub got its common name.

Cora Older loved Lady Banksia roses, and one of the original plants is still growing near the entryway.

Late afternoon sun slants across the entrance steps at the conclusion of the tour.

Tags: bench, california poppy, chair, cherub, field trip, fountain, fremont older, garden, house, lion, mystery plant, pond, poppy, rose, sign, statue, step, woodhills

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