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For Sale: Silicon Valley's Most Expensive Home

Green Gables in Silicon Valley, owned by a multi-generational banking family, has been listed for US$135 million. 

In California's golden enclave of Silicon Valley, home to discreet billionaires and tech entrepreneurs, the area's most expensive property has come to market. With a price tag of US$135m, it is also believed to be the fifth most expensive home in the world. 

Green Gables, as the property is known, is a serene 74-acre estate created at the turn of the last century by Mortimer Fleishhacker, banker and founder of Anglo California Bank and the Great Western Power Company.  

Mortimer Fleishhacker fell in love with the area in 1907 and spent the next few years assembling nine adjoining lots to create his family compound. He then commissioned Charles Sumner Greene with this brother Henry Mather Greene in 1911 to design the primary home. While they were leading Arts and Crafts architects in the early twentieth century, the Greenes modified the style to create the nearly 10,000-square-foot home reminiscent of a thatch-roofed cottage in the English countryside. Unlike traditional Arts and Crafts, the interiors are flooded with light and airiness, their large windows welcoming the expansive views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, said a representative from Christie's, the agency broking the sale in conjunction with US agent Compass.

The descendants of Mortimer Fleishhacker have been coming here in the summer months for five generations. It is now owned by 10 members of the Fleischhacker family, according to news reports, but every generation the shares are diluted making it harder to share ownership. 

With its marvelously landscaped gardens, Green Gables has long been a gathering place for global dignitaries, including European royalty, senators, congressmen, governors, business leaders and creative luminaries. In 1965, the United Nations held its 20th anniversary commemoration gala there. 

The estate comprises seven separate residences, the first built in 1911 and the other six built over time. These include a historic mansion built by the Greene brothers and a lovely 1930s home designed by acclaimed Modernist architect William Wurster. In the grounds there is also a rustic tea house, a two-story stone building situated on a quiet outpost with a meditative loggia above and kitchen below.

Green Gables also has three swimming pools, including a 60-by-300-foot Roman pool, with its aqueduct-like stone edifice, which is located in a copse of old-growth trees. This hidden treasure is revealed at the steep edge of a terrace 65 feet above, and accessed by dual grand and gently curving stone staircases edging a garden of succulents.

There is also a free-form pool, which is believed to be the first in the state, if not the country. The design is the result of the owners’ insistence that no trees be felled to construct a pool that would have otherwise exhibited a more conventional design.

The gardens are world renowned. There is an ornate edible garden, tennis court and an artist’s studio used back in the day by the talented matriarch Bella Gerstle Fleishhacker, whose family was equally noted as pioneers and entrepreneurs in of the Western United States. Since gardening was a passion of the family matriarch Bella, the estate is replete with orchards, an olive grove, vegetable and cutting flower gardens and an allée of trees with its canopy shading a walking path.

The estate has a total of 32 bedrooms across its numerous residences and is accessed off a country road and drive lined with fieldstone walls, initially revealing grasslands and forest views as well as a glimpse of the estate’s remote yet valuable lake. The meandering drive terminates at a motor court flanked by the historic main residence. A turf parterre leads to a gorgeous lily pond, which captures reflections of both the grand main residence and heritage pines against an enduring Western mountain backdrop.

Its abundant land provides a fresh canvas to add other features, which could include golf holes, an equestrian facility and/or winery, as well as endless opportunities for idyllic gardens, vines and orchards.

Dan Conn, CEO of Christie’s International Real Estate, said: “The undisputed lodestar in luxury real estate is, of course, location. Green Gables offers a prime expanse of land rivaled by few in the area. Rare in its beauty and scope, the property was purchased six generations ago and held by the same family, the Fleishhackers. The family has carefully protected and maintained this grand estate ever since, which presents an increasingly rare opportunity to acquire an abundance of land and extended family living spaces in Woodside, Silicon Valley's wealthiest ZIP code.”

Green Gables is also one of the only properties of its time to not have been divided up or made into a public attraction, he adds. An inimitable piece of history, for only a handful of lucky buyers.