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Villa Montalvo, a historic landmark built in 1912 by James Duval Phelan (1861-1930).  Phelan, a passionate Californian who had been a three-term progressive mayor of San Francisco, went on to become California’s first popularly-elected U.S. Senator.

Senator Phelan’s favorite home was Villa Montalvo, a center of artistic, political and social life in Northern California.  Phelan invited leading writers and artists to Villa Montalvo to work on individual artistic projects in an environment rich in dialogue and fellowship.  Jack London, Ethel Barrymore, Mary Pickford, Douglass Fairbanks, and Edwin Markham were among Phelan’s many guests.

At his death, Senator Phelan was explicit in his bequest of Villa Montalvo.  “I would like the property at Saratoga, California, known as Villa Montalvo, to be maintained as a public park.”

Villa Montalvo is nestled in the beautiful foothills above Saratoga with 175 acres of hiking trails.  After hiking in the hills we discovered gardens with rare and wonderful specimens of trees throughout the grounds.  My favorite were the gardens showcasing a wide variety of exotic succulents with a combination of textures, shapes and colors.

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