The above photo of Lillian Ferguson at her home, Three Groves, was taken in 1922. She was at that time a nationally-known Western writer, one of 30 “Literary Lions” honored by Sunset magazine. She had previously been a reporter and Sunday Edition editor of the San Francisco Examiner before becoming an assistant editor at Sunset.
In 1904 while living in San Francisco, she purchased three acres at the west end of Montford and built the house shown in the photo. She named her Homestead Valley secondary residence “Three Groves” for the three groups of trees there: oak, redwood and buckeye. When the 1906 earthquake and fire made her San Francisco home uninhabitable, she moved to Three Groves and commuted to the city.
She designed the garden in the buckeye grove as an oriental tribute with meandering brick walks, a Mandarin Chinese bench, a Moon Gate, a fountain and an oriental cooking facility. Electric lanterns hanging from the trees illuminated the garden at night.
In 1930, she sold Three Groves to George Sandy. He constructed dams on the creek to create a large swimming pool as well as a lake with a sandy beach.
Today, Lillian Ferguson’s house and the magnificent garden in the buckeye grove are privately owned. But the redwood and oak groves plus the adjacent Stolte Grove are part of Homestead’s park land.
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.