beaux arts architecture


Carolands. I took these new exterior and interior photos of the Chateau before today’s tours… as you can see the gardens were looking beautiful today, especially the enormous dahlias in the Potager (kitchen garden). The second photogrid is of the rarely seen North Façade from four vantage points. Enjoy the most beautiful historical house in America…



Harriett Pullman Carolan Schermerhorn (1869-1956), heiress to her father George Pullman’s luxury railway car fortune was a woman of impeccable tastes and high standards that went beyond even her successful businessman father’s infamous exacting standards. She was a lover of Arts, Architecture, Gardening, Literature, Theater, Fashion and all things French.

After a lifetime of traveling and collecting the finest examples of these passions, she began the construction of her dream French Chateau here in San Francisco’s Bay Area. In 1914 she purchased 500 acres of land in the newly created exclusive town of Hillsborough, CA. She then commissioned the greatest Landscape Architect of her era, the Frenchmen Achilles Duchène to create an original french garden that would have rivaled those of European Royalty. Duchène selected the highest point in Hillsborough to place the chateau amidst his extensive parterred gardens which radiated from the chateau in three directions as far as the eyes could see.

Harriett then selected the great master Architect Ernest Sanson who also lived nearby her Paris mansion and whose acclaimed works she admired. Sanson’s only project here in the United States is considered to be amongst his greatest works. Like the Versailles Petit Trianon of Harriett’s adored heroine Marie-Antoinette, Sanson made a Chateau that had four uniquely remarkable façades. The 98 room mansion incorporated several exquisite period rooms Harriett bought in Paris along with newly carved boisserie created for the heiress. The construction of the Chateau was completed in two years thanks to the supervision of San Francisco Architect Willis Polk who acted as a project site manager/engineer.

The story of the heiress and her Chateau will be continued later on this blog or if you can’t wait, visit my work on the official website: CAROLANDS.ORG

Nicolaes Pietersz. Berchem and Jan Baptist Weenix - The Calling of St Matthew

circa 1655

oil on panel

Mauritshuis, The Hague


This beautiful Salon Doré from 18th Century France, now in San Francisco’s Palace of Legion of Honor - Fine Arts Museum was brought to California to furnish “La Dolphine” - Hillsborough, CA. It was originally created in 1792 for the Hôtel de la Trémeoil in Paris. It was at one point owned by Otto Khan and installed in his NYC Palazzo (now the Sacred Heart School). The room has been around a lot but now is home in San Francisco, CA ironically in a museum modelled after France’s famous Legion of Honor Palace. This Salon Doré has recently undergone an expensive and thorough restoration process that took several years making it a highlight of any tour of the Fine Arts Museum. (NOTE) Harriett Carolan ordered similar gilt boisserie for her Ballroom at her chateau, Carolands in 1914 but perhaps due to World War I, they never made it to the US.

Lower Manhattan’s Financial District old skyscrapers from the Cities Service Building looking west in 1938. At left is the Equitable Building (Ernest Graham, 1915) and the 48-story Singer tower (Ernest Flagg, 1908) are visible at center, at background with the Hudson River docks behind it.

Photo: Berenice Abbott

Source: Bonnie Yochelson “Berenice Abbott: Changing New York” (New York, The New Press, The Museum of the City of New York. 2008).

Pieter Jansz. Saenredam - St Mary’s Square and St Mary’s Church at Utrecht 


oil on canvas

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam