From the obituary: “Mrs. Lillian Ferguson, for many years a resident of Mill Valley, died June 23, 1938 in Oakland where she had made her home with her son, Walter Plunkett, for two years. …a woman of remarkable qualities … at one time a reporter on the San Francisco Examiner, later rising to the position of editor of the Sunday edition .. still later assistant editor of Sunset magazine. … she bought property in Homestead, greatly beautifying it and naming it, ‘The Three Groves’ because of the groups of trees upon it.”
Several of her articles appeared in Sunset magazine between 1917 and 1928. In 1919, she was one of 30 nationally-known Western writers designated as Sunset’s Rodeo of Literary Lions.
In 1904, while living at 643 Waller St. in San Francisco, she purchased the property in Homestead and built a secondary residence there. On weekends, her boarder, Fred Stolte, helped her with various tasks at Three Groves. He became so enchanted with the area that he bought a lot across the street and built a weekend cabin for himself. The 1906 earthquake made her San Francisco home uninhabitable – both Lillian and Fred moved to Homestead.
The 1910 census for Homestead: “Lillian Ferguson, head of household, single, age 45, born in Illinois, father born in Kentucky, mother born in New Hampshire, writer for newspaper, owned home.” Her home was Three Groves, a three-acre estate with redwood, oak and buckeye groves. In the 1920s she designed the garden as an oriental tribute: meandering brick walks, Chinese bench, Moon Gate, fountain and outdoor cooking structure.
In 1930, she bought a house on Ethel and sold Three Groves to George Sandy. He constructed dams on the creek creating a swimming pool and a lake for swimming, boating and fishing. In 1931 she bought and beautified a home at 90 Miller Ave. She retired from editorial work in about 1933.
Today, Lillian Ferguson’s house with its magnificent garden is privately owned. The remaining two acres of gardens, orchards, lawns and oak and redwood groves are maintained by the Homestead Valley Land Trust for public use.
If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.