History

Post image for Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula hosts historic Barron-Latham-Hopkins Gatehouse tours

The Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula (JLPA•MP) is opening up the historic Barron-Latham-Hopkins Gatehouse to the public for tours on Saturday, May 13. The Gatehouse is the oldest existing structure in Menlo Park and the last surviving gatehouse in the state of California.

The Gatehouse is one of only three buildings in Menlo Park to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The JLPA•MP has leased the building from the City of Menlo Park since the mid-1990s and it has rarely been seen by the public. It is important as a last remnant of the fabulous country estates that were built in the area during the 1860s.

A gatehouse is the building which stands at the entrance gate to a large estate. In this case, it was the 280-acre estate founded in 1864 by W. E. Barron, which included a 40 room mansion. Although this estate was purchased or inherited by different successful businessmen, the expenses of maintaining such a large estate thwarted their intentions to keep it intact.

By 1942, all the estate buildings had deteriorated and were removed, except for the gatehouse. It was preserved by Menlo Park’s city manager and the women of the Junior League.

Tours will run from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and tickets are $9 per person. Proceeds from the tour benefit the Junior League of Palo Alto•Mid Peninsula. Tickets can be purchased online  or in person on the day of the event.

Photo courtesy of JLPA•MP

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Spotted: Warlocks’ first gig at Magoo’s 52 years ago today

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Scott Fortlage posted this photo on Do You Remember the Old Menlo Park today, noting that the Warlocks (which became the Grateful Dead) played their first gig on May 5, 1965 at Magoo’s Pizza Parlor in downtown Menlo Park. Wow, over 50 years ago…

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Enchanting stone buildings are all that remains of Willowbrook Farm in Portola Valley

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Some of the most intriguing buildings in Portola Valley are the quaint stone houses at 451 Portola that look like castles from a Grimm Brothers story. Was that window in the tower the one where Rapunzel stood and hung down her hair for the prince?  Was it the castle where Cinderella, dressed in her finery, went to […]

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Learn more about Woodside’s history at First Friday event April 7

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Learn about St. Dennis, Greersburg and the real name of Whiskey Hill Road at a First Friday event on April 7 at the Woodside Town Hall (2955 Woodside Rd.). Author Bo Crane will tell the tale of Dennis Martin, whose 1846 pre-Searsville ranch and hand-built Catholic Church fell victim to a Mexican Land Grant dispute that […]

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Grateful Dead in Ladera? Yes, it really happened 50 years ago

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Although some might not believe it because it does not appear in any official Grateful Dead chronologies, the famous Bay Area band played at Ladera School for the Ladera Christmas Dance on the night of December 17, 1966. We have neighbors’ recollections and newspaper accounts to prove that the event was a wildly successful evening. Barbara Rusmore, […]

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Historian Caroline Winterer searches for truth about the American Enlightenment

If you attended school after World War II, you learned about the American Enlightenment. This, we were taught, was a period of intellectual ferment in the 13 American colonies that rejected monarchy and led to the establishment of a new republic in the United States. You probably took this as fact, little knowing the term “American Enlightenment” was first coined during the Cold […]

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

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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 […]

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

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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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Great estates of the Peninsula is topic of recent talk sponsored by the Menlo Park Historical Association

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Earlier this fall, Carmen J. Blair, Deputy Director of the San Mateo County Historical Association, gave a talk at the Menlo Park Library entitled The Great Estates of the Peninsula. Carmen was invited by the Menlo Park Historical Association, and her talk was part of that organization’s annual meeting. Carmen’s talk explored the Mid-Peninsula lifestyle during the late […]

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Menlo Park Library celebrates its centennial by bringing books to life

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Menlo Park’s library held a birthday party for itself today, celebrating its 100th year by bringing books to life with costumed characters, to the delight of kids and adults alike. There were mini sets from The Great Gatsby (where you could grab a glass of “champagne” aka sparkling cider) and Treasure Island (with a big pirate ship), among […]

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Menlo Park gates to live again – if enough money can be raised

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“Portals of Early Days’ at Menlo Park Laid Low; Landmark of 1854 Falls.” Thus headlined an article in the July 7, 1922, Palo Alto Times. “The landmark…was struck early this morning by two automobiles, filled with singing passengers, which careened down the highway and crashed into the old arch…” The wood “…was rotted and scarcely […]

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