AKA: Flood, James C., Estate, Atherton, CA; Linden Towers, Atherton, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Laver, Augustus, Architect (firm); Laver, Curlett and Lenzen, Architects (firm); Pottier and Stymus Manufacturing Company (firm); Ulrich, Rudolph, Landscape Designer (firm); Augustus Laver (architect); Auguste Pottier (cabinet maker); William Pierre Stymus Sr. (cabinet maker); Rudolph Ulrich (landscape designer)

Dates: constructed 1875-1878, demolished 1936

3 stories, total floor area: 45,000 sq. ft.

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1 Linden Avenue
Lindenwood, Atherton, CA 94027

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Originally, the James C. Flood residence was located in Menlo Park, CA, but this portion of the city was later annexed into the Town of Atherton. The entrance to the Flood Estate stood near the intersection of Middlefield Road and Linden Road.


One of America's grandest-scaled and most opulent private residences of the last-quarter of the nineteenth century, Linden Towers served two generations of the Flood Family, both its builder, James Clair Flood (1826-1889), his daughter, Cora Jane ("Jennie") Flood (1862-1929), and son, James Leary Flood (1857-1926). The residence, designed by the San Francisco architectural firm of Laver, Curlett and Lenzen, Architects, featured highly eclectic and complex ornamentation, mixing various popular styles including Eastlake, Chateauesque, Second Empire, and Italianate. It cost approximately $18 million to build, furnish and landscape, an utterly staggering amount, and took three years to complete from 1875 until 1878. Following the death of J.C. Flood, the Menlo Park property was willed to Jennie. She found the enornous mansion too much to maintain and donated the property to the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). UCB did not retain the property long before selling it back to James Leary Flood, who proceeded to pour more money into enlarging the grounds and ringing the property with a sustantial masonry wall. After J.L. Flood's death, his widow sold the 600-acre property to developers who sub-divided it beginning in the late 1930s.

Building History

The silver magnate James Clair Flood maintained palatial homes in San Francisco and the country, like most of the other lumber, mining or railroad moguls of the 1880s. Architectural historian Harold Kirker called Flood's remarkable, eclectic pile "an outstanding western example of conspicuous waste." (See Harold Kirker, California's Architectural Frontier, [Salt Lake City: Gibbs M. Smith, Incorporated, 1986], p. 92.) Eager to leave the cold, foggy summers of San Francisco, Flood, llike many other his wealthy neighbors, purchased extensive estates in San Mateo and northern Santa Clara Counties, what became called "the Peninsula." In the mid-1870s, J.C. Flood purchased what had been known as the Carroll Property in the sleepy village of Menlo Park, CA, south of San Francisco. The Santa Cruz Mountains insulated this area from dense fog, enabling it to become considerably warmer and sunnier than San Francisco during the summers. These huge estates included Darius Ogden Mills's "Millbrae," William Ralston's cleverly named "Ralston Hall," and Leland Stanford, Sr's 8,800-acre stock farm near Palo Alto, later to become Stanford University. Originally located in Menlo Park, the town of Atherton later obtained the property on which Linden Towers stood.

J.C. Flood commissioned the San Francisco architectural firm of Laver, Curlett and Lenzen to design this extravagant residential soufflé and had landscape gardener Rudolph Ulrich lay out its complex grounds. He enjoyed his country estate for 11 years, before passing away and willing it to his daughter, Jennie. After a few years, she did not want the burden of maintaining such a colossal enterprise, and donated the house and grounds to the University of California. The University, however, also could not support such a large property set so far away from the Berkeley campus, so it sold the mansion back to J. L. for $300,000. Writer Theron G. Cady, in his book, Tales of the San Francisco Peninsula, indicated: "[J.L.] added to the original holdings by buying out toward the bay, and later purchased all of what was known as the Adams tract. It was during this time that the old mine cable fence which ran along the entire frontage was replaced by the red-brick wall." (See Theron G. Cady, Tales of the San Francisco Peninsula, [San Carlos, CA: C-T Publishers, 1948].)

J.L. Flood occupied the residence periodically until his death in 1926. The US Census record of 05/06/1910 noted that James L. Flood, his wife, Maud, daughter, Mary, and son, James, lived in the residence along with 13 servants. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Township 3, San Mateo, California; Roll: T624_104; Page: 19B; Enumeration District: 0057; FHL microfilm: 1374117accessed 10/16/2015.) Additionally, the San Francisco Society Register Blue Books for 1913 and 1919 listed Linden Towers as the primary residence of J.L. and Maud Flood. In a US Passport application of 07/29/1920, James Leary Flood indicated that his permanent residence was in Menlo Park. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 - March 31, 1925; Roll #: 1319; Volume #: Roll 1319 - Certificates: 75876-76249, 31 Jul 1920-31 Jul 1920,accessed 10/15/2015.) Maud sold the residence after James Leary Flood's death in 1926; it was demolished about ten years later and replaced with the Lindenwood residential development.

Building Notes

Linden Towers had an exceptionally eclectic style merging the Second Empire and the Chateauesque. It had the mansard roof and widow's walk of the former and the wall dormers of the latter. The wall dormers were surrounded by scalloped parapets, curving forms suggesting Spanish Baroque sources. Quatrefoil windows also indicated Spanish influence; Mission San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo in Carmel, CA, prominently used the quatrefoil on its facade. Due to popular interest in the early Spanish missions spawned by Helen Hunt Jackson's book Ramona, restoration efforts of Mission San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo began about five years after the completion of the Flood Menlo Park mansion.

Furnishings from this lavish house were dispersed at auction in 1934. Some of the furnishings were designed by the New York interior design firm, Pottier and Stymus, who also produced furniture for railroad tycoon Leland Stanford's country estate near Palo Alto, CA, in 1875. In the same year, Flood paid an astonishing $78,000 to the pair to construct a rosewood bedroom suite, consisting of a heavy, intricately-carvedfootboard, headboard, marble-topped bureau, mirror, and bed canopy.


Developers had Linden Towers demolished in 1936.

PCAD id: 4490