After the 1906 earthquake, Mortimer Fleishhacker, an investor in power companies, paper box and chemical companies and eventually banker, began purchasing land to construct his country estate. For this he hired Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene – two acclaimed architects of the Arts and Crafts movement – as architects.
They designed the main house and landscaped its surroundings to blend together, which you’ll see today at Green Gables.
Early Life and Education
Mortimer Fleishhacker was an influential businessman in San Francisco who owned both paper and electric companies as well as being one of the country’s premier bankers. Additionally, he was active in many civic and cultural organizations of his community such as being one of its founders when creating what later became the United Way.
In 1911 he engaged Greene & Greene – Charles and Henry Greene of famed Craftsman-era architect partners who were brothers – to design his summer house in Woodside, California. These acclaimed architects created an environmentally sensitive building which seamlessly blended in with its surroundings.
Green Gables, is a two-story English manor-style building featuring ivy-draped walls and an attractive roof featuring steam-bent wave-course shingles, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, this property contains barns, lily ponds, tennis courts, an artist studio and Roman reflecting pools – each listing their own individual identity on this historic property.
Mortimer Fleishhacker (1866-1953) was an acclaimed lumber, paper, and banking entrepreneur who is best remembered as founding the Great Western Power Company and serving on its Board. Additionally he ventured into hydroelectric power, the Anglo California Bank, hydroelectricity generation projects, hydroelectric transmission networks, hydroelectricity storage projects and several other ventures besides being active with San Francisco civic and cultural institutions such as founding Community Chest (forerunner to United Way) and being appointed trustee by University of California.
He was also a significant philanthropist who funded public television (KQED), the San Francisco Symphony, SPUR and many other institutions – often guided by his interest in arts such as American Conservatory Theater bringing into the city. Additionally, he was an active member of Temple Emanu-El and served on San Francisco Planning Commission.
Achievement and Honors
Mortimer Fleishhacker was an influential entrepreneur, visionary, family man and philanthropist from northern California who purchased property in Woodside enclave beginning in 1911 with the intention of creating a country estate for his family. Charles Greene from Pasadena’s Greene and Greene firm was hired to design this estate property.
Green Gables is now a 75-acre estate that serves as a link between Silicon Valley’s technology industry and California’s pioneering past. The Fleishhacker Foundation prioritizes community, innovation, diversity, equity and inclusion as its guiding principles; their arts and culture grantmaking program supports organizations that support local artists while their literacy grantmaking supports K-5 educational literacy programs. Brief letters of inquiry may be submitted throughout the year with specific guidelines posted online for consideration.
Mortimer Fleishhacker was an esteemed businessman, civic leader and philanthropist in San Francisco. He founded or supported many cultural and non-profit organizations throughout San Francisco – such as public television station KQED (Kansas Quality Educational Distance Network), The Asia Foundation SPUR Berkeley International House among others – through his many charitable endeavors.
Fleishhacker and Bella Gerstle commissioned Greene and Greene in 1911 to design them an English-manor style country house in Woodside with a gunite concrete surface and an imitation thatch roof made up of hand-cut redwood shingles steamed and arranged into rolling curves to emulate an actual thatched roof.
Fleishhacker purchased property to expand her estate, which now spans 74 acres in Woodside. Her estate promotes sustainable living while creating an idyllic experience of closeness with nature, serving to promote oneness with nature and support local community efforts and educational institutions.
Mortimer Fleishhacker owned both a power company and paper mill in California, was one of California’s leading bankers, and also had an eye for real estate development.
He purchased land in Woodside, Northern California where he constructed Green Gables; an estate that has remained within the family for generations since. On its 74-acre estate sits the main home designed by architects Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene (known as Greene & Greene) as their main house was completed during their partnership.
Fleishhacker’s heirs wanted to ensure the property would always remain undisturbed, so they put in place a conservation easement on both house and landscape to preserve it and have transferred the property into trusts to prevent ever being sold off for profit. Your help ensures we bring local news you can depend on!