Cover Story - September 15, 2010

Showpiece stable

Historic Folger Stable gets $5 million restoration

by Dave Boyce

A large and elegant Woodside horse stable, built in 1905 and listed in the National Registry of Historic Places, has a new lease on life that could keep it in operation for another 105 years.

At a cost of about $5 million to restore and renew this stable and carriage room, Folger Stable at 4040 Woodside Road in Wunderlich Park is no longer a dusty, debilitated, termite-ridden echo of its former glamorous self, but a gleaming showpiece.

A three-hour open house for the public is set for the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 19, said Susan Lang, co-chair with Jill Daly of the Folger Stable Project, which raised money to restore the complex.

The 974-acre property was the former estate of coffee magnate James A. Folger II, was donated to San Mateo County in 1974 and forms what is now Wunderlich Park.

The open house will include a blacksmith display, agricultural exhibits, a reproduction of the original enclosed hitching-rail area — called a tie stall — and a self-guided tour of still-standing stone walls built by Chinese laborers in the late 19th century.

The stable's architect was Arthur Brown Jr., who designed notable buildings all over the Bay Area, including the city hall and Coit Tower in San Francisco, and the Bancroft Library at the University of California.

Mr. Brown's design for the stable "draws upon seventeenth-century French Baroque, with Craftsman influences," said Nicole Ervin Barsetti of San Carlos-based Gonsalves & Stronck Construction Corp., which rehabilitated the building over 18 months.

The horses living in this Beaux Arts-influenced stable during its prime "led opulent lives," according to stable spokeswoman Nan Chapman. "Pink marble baseboards, century old bricks, cast iron fenders, and wrought iron window grates are evidence that no detail was spared."

The "ornate" carriage room is rare for a stable in the United States, Ms. Chapman added. The interior is graced by redwood columns, beveled crown moldings, double hung windows and skylights, she said.

During the restoration, workers discovered parts of an old railway under the foundation, Ms. Barsetti said. The theory is that in the late 19th century, carts full of home-grown grapes traveled this railway on their way to becoming raisins. A section of the railway is being preserved and will be on exhibit.

"There has been a phenomenal amount of support from community groups, especially equestrian organizations, families, as well as private and corporate foundations," Ms. Lang said, noting longtime major support from the late Bill Lane and his wife Jean of Portola Valley, and Woodside residents Sonja and Bill Davidow.

Go to or call 851-2660 for more information.


An open house for the public to tour the renovated Folger Stable is set to run from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, at the stable, 4040 Woodside Road in Wunderlich Park in Woodside. In addition to docent-guided tours, there will be pony rides, a petting zoo, leathercrafts, a blacksmith display, and light refreshments.


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