Hidden Portola Valley

Post image for Intriguing history of the little wooden house in Portola Valley’s Blue Oaks neighborhood

In the 1870s, Charles and Maria Luisa Martinez Freeman built a wooden house in which they raised their nine children. In 1890, Maria Luisa, granddaughter of the grantee of Rancho el Corte de Madera, inherited the surrounding 132 acres from her father Antonio Martinez.

In 1907, Stephen Mariani, a wealthy San Francisco hardware merchant, purchased the property. It then became known as the Mariani Ranch. The family used the house for a summer residence.


In 1974, when he was a graduate student at Menlo College, Saudi Arabian Prince Faissal al Saud became the owner. He added second-story space and ornate decorations. When his plans for an elaborate Middle-Eastern style residence changed, he sold the property, and modern sub-division plans began.

The house has been rehabilitated and is a part of the Blue Oaks subdivision in Portola Valley.

Nancy Lund is the Portola Valley town historian.

Photos by Linda Hubbard (c) 2016

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A replica windmill and a school have a combined history in Portola Valley

Thumbnail image for A replica windmill and a school have a combined history in Portola Valley

Everyone who travels on Portola Road in Portola Valley notices the whimsical windmill that has stood on the corner of Georgia Lane for 99 years. Some probably know that it isn’t really a windmill; rather it’s a structure placed atop a well by William Fitzhugh, the owner of an estate called Catoctin, today’s Grove and Stonegate. […]

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