clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Please do not gut, renovate this exquisite $11.3 million Atherton Victorian

New, 2 comments

One of the city's oldest structures, it's also one of its most expensive

So stunning, so signifiant. One would hope that this intricate 1885 Victorian mansion at 151 Laurel, in the heart of Silicon Valley’s toniest city, would not only be able to find a buyer, but also be able to maintain its meticulous integrity. Alas, we won’t hold our breath for the latter.

Let’s go back a bit: the Fennwood Estate has been a part of Atherton since its beginnings. Originally christened La Foret, it’s had a history of ownership ranging from Peter Speckles, the 19th century heir, Captian Charles Goodall, the Pacific Coast Steamship Company founder, and Albert Hahn, founder of the elite members-only Circus Club.

During World War II, the home was sectioned off into four apartments, proving a home to for the US Army’s medical team. Later, in the acid-laced late ’60s, it housed a commune after its owners unknowingly rented it to a ragtag group of kids. God bless, that era.

Today it features nine bedrooms, seven and a half baths, and 8,380 square feet. The look is Victorian all the way, with its original 1885 lampposts greetings visitors as they arrive. The foyer and entry staircase is highlighted by a stained glass skylight hovering 26 feet above.

After all these years, it also boasts such period detailing as beading, brackets, and egg-and-dart moldings. A 1909 light fixture highlights the mahogany-paneled formal dining room. And because we’re a sucker for a top-drawer bathroom, the powder rooms here are as cheerful as any we’ve seen in quite some time, replete with stunning and vivid tile work.

Outside you will find Gothic-style towers adoring the top. And, of course, this mansion has a grand ballroom. How does one throw a party with so many twirling crinolines without a grand ballroom? It’s impossible. You can practically still smell faint wafts of Guerlain’s Jicky from parties of days gone by.

And while Fennwood does come with historic status from the city, that doesn’t mean the new owners will keep it as-is. According to The Peninsula, "Since Atherton has not placed restrictions on the preservation of residential striations, this means that once the home welcomes its new owners, they can update it to any level."

Which is to say, this could very well go the way so many, many, many other Bay Area Victorians—antiseptic, open-floor plan redo. But we hope that, should it sell (it’s been on the market for over a year), the new owners would want to preserve this gorgeous beast. That said, it could also use a touch-up with the most gentlest of hands. After all, 1885 was a long time ago.

Asking is $11,388,000.