By Barbara Wood
Special to The Almanac
One of Woodside's oldest estates, the 75-acre Fleishhacker property known as Green Gables, is for sale.
The property has been quietly on the market since 2015 (with agents and potential buyers all asked to sign nondisclosure agreements to view the property) at a listing price said to be $160 million. Realtor Michael Dreyfus of the Sotheby's International Realty franchise in Palo Alto recently went public with the fact that the historic estate is on the market, but without a listing price.
The property comes encumbered with a conservation easement held by the Garden Conservancy barring it in perpetuity from subdivision, any commercial use except rental of the homes on the property or educational uses, and restricting the expansion or replacement of the existing structures.
The property, located in central Woodside near the intersection of Albion and Manuella avenues, includes seven houses, three swimming pools, and an 18,000-square-foot reflecting pool surrounded by a faux Roman stone arcade.
The main home, designed by Charles Greene of the architectural firm Greene and Greene, has been listed on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1986. The property has been used by the descendants of banker and businessman Mortimer Fleishhacker and artist Bella Gerstle Fleishhacker as a summer retreat for more than a century.
While the property is a short walk from Woodside's small commercial area and elementary school, and a five-minute drive from Sand Hill Road's venture capital offices, almost no sign of surrounding Silicon Valley is visible from the grounds. The main house sits on a knoll with a view of an expansive lawn and reflecting pool, backed by the Santa Cruz Mountains. Apart from a few visible power lines and glimpses of parts of a couple of homes, the main house could be in the midst of a wilderness area.
Greene worked on the main house, its landscaping and some of the accessory structures on the property between 1911 and 1935. He even hand-carved a table and chairs and decorative woodwork for the main home's card room, which replaced what had previously been a porch in the 1920s.
Another of the homes on the property was designed by architect William Wurster in 1931.
Dreyfus said the property's potential buyers include Silicon Valley tech executives, company founders and international clients like Softbank founder Masayoshi Son, who paid $117 million — reportedly the current record for a California residential property — for a home on Woodside's Mountain Home Road, or Israeli-Russian venture capitalist Yuri Milner, who paid $100 million for an estate in Los Altos Hills.
"We do vet everybody" who asks to see the property, Dreyfus said.
As befits a property that could set a sales record for the state, its marketing materials include a bound book with the property's history and lush photos, a brochure that upon opening plays a video with musical accompaniment on a built-in screen, and a website that can be accessed only with a password.
The 2003 conservation easement says the Garden Conservancy will get 1 percent of the total of any sale, up to $1 million. The easement's purpose, according to the document, is "to assure that the Property will be retained forever as a natural, scenic, historic and horticultural resource, and to prevent any use of the Property that will significantly impair or interfere with the Conservation Values of the Property."
The easement document says the main home and the Wurster-designed home may not be expanded; but the easement does allow expanding or replacing the estate's other homes by no more than 33 percent.