Open space district looking for partners, ideas for Hawthorns estate | March 12, 2014 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - March 12, 2014

Open space district looking for partners, ideas for Hawthorns estate

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District is looking for partners to collaborate on finding uses for the Hawthorns Historic Complex, a former estate that is home to a century-old mansion and several other structures. The estate is on 79 acres of steep meadows and forests between Los Trancos and Alpine roads in Portola Valley.

"Time is of the essence to develop a partnership, given that the buildings continue to be exposed and impacted by the elements," the district says in a statement. At the end of March, the district will issue a solicitation for letters of interest, which include information about the estate and parameters for establishing partnerships.

The district's website includes a study of the estate structures' history, which begins around 1875 with the building of a large barn and house. The two-story mansion followed in 1886, then a large garage in 1916, and a modern one-story home in 1952, the study says. The older structures clearly show the effects of decades of weathering. The mansion and other houses are boarded up and numerous out-buildings are in various stages of falling down.

District staff are looking for conceptual proposals and discussions to "narrow down the list of viable partnerships," the statement says. For more information, contact district Planner Ariel Shaw at (650) 691-1200.

Go to for links to the historic study and reports on the structural integrity of the buildings and the geological circumstances of the property. The notorious San Andreas fault runs through Portola Valley.

The district came into possession of the Hawthorns in 2011 and has attached it to the adjacent Windy Hill Open Space Preserve, one of 26 preserves on some 62,000 acres on both sides of the Coast Range from Woodside to Sunnyvale and Los Gatos.


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