The Bright Eagle – Menlo’s 2nd oldest structure

by Scott Loftesness on January 25, 2010

The Bright Eagle - Noel Drive - Menlo Park, California

Over on Noel Drive, just a short distance from The Gatehouse at Ravenswood and Laurel, stands the Bright Eagle – reported to be the second oldest surviving structure in Menlo Park. It was built by San Francisco businessman Lemmon T. Meyer as a summer house in 1869 – 140 years ago!

Since then, the building has served many different roles including a gambling and poker parlor in the 1870’s, a family home, an officers’ club for Camp Fremont during WW I and a military academy. In the late 1930’s, it became a hotel – known originally as the Laurel Grove Hotel and later as the Marie Antoinette Inn. In the early 1960’s, it was purchased by Mary J. Rafferty who converted it to an antique parlor and tea room. She gave the building its name: Bright Eagle. In the 1970’s it was converted to offices and continues in that role to today.

Photo by Scott Loftesness

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Delia December 22, 2010 at 12:26 am

What year was the home converted from a military academy to a hotel?


Arturo Gomez Rubio L.M. December 29, 2010 at 11:41 am

Good history on The Bright Eagle. A small but meaningful correction: the name of the businessman that built it is incorrect. The correct name is Theodor Lemmen Meyer. Born in Hamburg in 1832. Emigrated to America in 1853. You can check his genealogy and his descendants in

I happen to be one of them.


Arturo Gomez-Rubio Lemmen Meyer


bb May 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm

In the 80’s you could rent the space for parties. I had my wedding reception there in 1986 and it was the perfect setting for a most memorable wedding!


B. Green October 9, 2011 at 11:35 pm

I ran into your post of a wedding at Bright Eagle Mansion in 1986. I was the manager and caterer during the years of 1984 thru 1988. I guess we met each other during that time. Thanks for the nice comment. Hope you’re living happily ever after.
B. Green


SeaMoore June 11, 2015 at 8:57 am

Hey, B. Green and others. We probably met too. We had our rehearsal dinner there on Sept. 26th, 1986. Great memories.


Jim Hamilton August 21, 2015 at 11:51 am

My wife Judy Terhune of Menlo park and I had our wedding reception there May 24, 1969. Our photographer Gordon Ingersoll of Menlo Park took our pictures. The grand staircase was a great spot for throwing the bouquet and we drove off in a 1937 Packard owned by Ingersoll. I know he photographed many of the local families over the years.


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