Local scribe John Horgan reminds us in his Mercury News column that the Carolands mansion in H'borough has just turned 100
As 2016 comes to a rapid close (some might say mercifully so), it’s worth pointing out a San Mateo County historical footnote. The opening of the Carolands Chateau, located on Remillard Drive in Hillsborough, occurred 100 years ago.
The massive structure’s centennial has passed without much fanfare. Comprising 98 rooms, the mansion remains one of the largest residential buildings in the western U.S., a classic example of a pre-Depression Era gilded age.
Decades ago, the magnificent dwelling on a prominent hilltop had fallen into serious disrepair. The brainchild of railroad heiress Harriett Pullman Carolan, the huge home, which towers just under five-floors-high, had become a neighborhood eyesore and an attractive nuisance.
John left out one of the gorier stories from the '70s when two girls sneaked into the rundown pile and were attacked inside. Only one survived. That led to calls to demolish it and that in turn led to several efforts to save the landmark with the Johnsons eventually being the ones to save it.
I had a chance to tour the house from top to bottom before the restoration started and it was amazing. I've also toured some of the great mansions of Newport, RI and the Carolands easily stands as a peer to them. For a good view, the San Mateo County Historical Museum published a coffee table book on the house by Michael Dwyer back in 2006. It shows the renovations done by the Johnsons and is well worth a read. If you go up the hill to see it, this is what you are looking for.