Vignette > Torii

 On the corner of Corte Madera Ave. and Winwood Place in Blithedale Canyon there is a Torii, a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance to or within a shrine where it symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred. Japanese carpenters built it in 1920 for Charles and Donna Cole who had bought the property in 1906. Their house is up the hill on the back of their lot. Donna Cole was a globetrotting author. [Several of her novels are in the library’s History Room.]  Her interest in Asian architecture led her to have the Torii built.   Charles Cole was an owner of the Sterling Furniture Company on Market Street in San Francisco, a stockbroker and a rancher.  The Coles owned a walnut ranch in St. Helena in the Napa Valley. When the 1929 Mill Valley Conflagration damaged the Coles house, they took refuge with their neighbors, the Costigans.  The Torii survived. The Coles remained in their home for the rest of their lives.  Not far from the Cole’s Torii was another Japanese gate in Blithedale Canyon at the entrance to Miyajima George T. Marsh’s Japanese village. [see Vignette #169 sent out on December 19, 2019.]