AKA: Carolands, Hillsborough, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Polk, Willis, and Company (firm); Sanson, Ernest, Architect (firm); Achille Duchene (landscape architect); Willis Jefferson Polk (architect); Ernest Sanson (architect)

Dates: constructed 1914-1915

3 stories, total floor area: 65,000 sq. ft.

565 Remillard Drive
Hillsborough, CA 94010-6739

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Francis J Carolan (c. 1861-1923) and his wife, Harriet Pullman Carolan (1869-1956), daughter of George M. Pullman (1831-1897), the fantastically rich railroad sleeping car inventor and manufacturer, previously built Crossways Farm, before planning the huge and costly mansion "Carolands." The Carolans separated two years after their giant French chateau had been completed; disputes over the cost of the residence contributed to their break-up. He resettled at the familiar Crossways Farm, she transplanted herself to New York, NY. Four years after Francis's death in 1923, she married the wealthy insurance broker Arthur Friedrich Schermerhorn (born c. 1859 in NY). Habitation of Carolands was sporadic after 1927. Countess Lillian Remillard Dandini (born c. 1880-1973), heiress of the Remillard Brick Company fortune, lived in the chateau between 1950-1973; a series of owners followed, none of whom could maintain or restore the house. For much of the 1970s-1990s, the house was vacant and home to transients and thrill-seekers. Charles Bartlett Johnson and and his wife, Dr. Ann Johnson, heirs to the Franklin Templeton mutual fund fortune, bought the property for the bargain price of $6 million in 1998, and set about its restoration. Doug Wilson, proprietor of Doug Wilson Construction, headquartered in Gardnerville, NV, supervised this careful restoration.

Owner Harriet Pullman Carolan, in an effort to outdo her neighbors, retained a real, live French architect to design her second lavish estate. Paul-Ernest Sanson (1836-1918) was her choice, a Parisian designer then at the twilight of his career. He was best known for his production of fashionable urban residences or hôtels for wealthy Parisian families beginning in the 1880s until his death in 1918. He also designed country houses or chateaux in France and city dwellings for clients outside France. The Carolands was one of his last large-scale residences. Sanson never traveled to the Hillsborough, CA, site, and relied on topographical maps and his local associated architect, Willis Polk (1867-1924), to interpret his drawings. Landscape architect Achille Duchêne (1866-1947) laid out the elaborate French gardens for the Carolands which, due to the cost of the house and the marital instability it caused, were never completed.

National Register of Historic Places (October 21, 1975): 75000478 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 9688