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Bay Area mansions to rent for special occasions.

Bay Area mansions to rent for special occasions Once they were homes of the wealthy and influential, some with well-known names like Rockefeller, Flood, and Phelan. Now they serve as private schools, or headquarters for historical societies and volunteer groups. In the San Francisco Bay Area, 17 of these mansions--all built before World War I--are available for weddings, private dinners, or parties.

We've published reports on some of them before (in 1983 and 1985). These two articles are among our most requested. Here's an update.

All the houses are big (most able to handle at least 75 guests--some up to 3,000) and offer an opulent setting; many have historical significance. You must reserve well ahead--a year or more at popular sites, especially for weekend days. Now, after the busy summer season, is a good time to check them out.

Costs vary widely and depend on the type of event, number of guests, and other factors. A deposit is always required. Some houses restrict certain activities, such as smoking, drinking, dancing, or playing music, and some rooms may not be included in the rental.

Restrictions on food also vary. Some houses work only with specific caterers, while others allow you to prepare your own food. Ask about kitchen facilities, cleanup, and whether tables and chairs are available or need to be rented. Some require you to use a valet parking service. To see the houses you're considering, call for an appointment. Unless noted, area code is 415.

(For a wide range of smaller old homes to rent, consider bed-and-breakfast inns or small historic hotels; many are listed in B & B guidebooks.)

San Francisco

Bourn Mansion, 2550 Webster St., 94115; 929-7500 (if you can't get through at first, keep trying). This four-story clinker-brick home in Pacific Heights was designed by Willis Polk for William B. Bourn (the same architect and client who later created the Peninsula's famous Filoli estate). You can rent the first and second floors for up to 300 guests (125 seated); cost is up to $3,000 per event. Limited parking.

Brune House, 824 Grove St., 94117; 346-8669. Three-story 1886 Italianate offers an ornate interior with player pianos and mechanical novelties. You can rent it for up to 125 guests (25 seated) for $150 per hour. Limited parking, and located in an area where guests might not feel safe walking to cars at night.

Haas-Lilienthal House, 2007 Franklin St., 94109; 441-3011. In Pacific Heights, this well-kept 1886 Victorian has many of its original furnishings. House holds up to 200 guests (80 seated); cost is $650 to $2,000 for 8 hours. Limited parking.

Hamlin School, 2120 Broadway, 94115; 331-0544. Built in 1901, this Italian palazzo in Pacific Heights has an art glass skylight, a solarium with Golden Gate view, and a balcony over the great hall. Up to 250 guests; $3,000 to $4,000 for 7 hours. Valet parking included.

Schools of the Sacred Heart, 2222 Broadway, 94115; 563-2900. Built in 1914 in Italian Renaissance style, the former Flood Mansion offers a courtyard and six spacious rooms, some with a Golden Gate view. Up to 600 guests (200 seated); $6,000 for 6 to 8 hours. Valet parking required.

The Trocadero (Stern Grove Clubhouse), 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard, 94116; 666-7035. Nestled in tall redwoods, this Victorian gingerbread-decorated house is comfortable for family groups. It has a big main room, commercial kitchen, and wide veranda. Up to 125 people; $300 weekends, $200 weekdays for 6 hours.

North Bay

Falkirk Mansion, 1408 Mission Ave., San Rafael 94901; 485-3328. Turreted and gabled 1888 house was steamship baron Robert Dollar's estate. Holds 75 inside, up to 125 outside; $90 per hour winter, $115 per hour summer; 6-hour minimum.

Fischer-Hanlon Home, 135 West G St., Benicia 94510; (707) 745-3385. Once a gold rush-era hotel, it was moved next to the old capitol (now a state park) and expanded. The period-furnished parlor suits small weddings (up to 25); country garden can hold up to 100. Rates are low: $25 to $100.

Lyford House, 376 Greenwood Cove Rd., Tiburon 94920; 388-0717. This yellow-trimmed Victorian boasts a lookout atop its mansard roof and views of Richardson Bay and San Francisco. Available May through October, it holds up to 125 using deck and house; $850 per event.

East Bay

Camron-Stanford House, 1418 Lakeside Dr., Oakland 94612; 836-1976. This stately white 1876 house is the last of the homes that once ringed Lake Merritt. It has a veranda, lawns, period furnishings. Up to 200 guests; $475 for 4 hours.

Dunsmuir House, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland 94605; 562-0328. White-columned 1899 classical revival house looks onto 48 acres of forested park in the East Oakland hills. Many events are held on the grounds or in remodeled stables or the carriage house, some in the house itself (decorated with period furniture). Can take up to 3,000 guests. Costs from $150 to $350 per hour. Horse-drawn carriage available.

Hacienda de las Flores, 2100 Donald Dr., Moraga 94556; 376-2520. Oil wealth built this scaled-down San Simeon of the East Bay around an earlier adobe rancho; it's noted for its pavilion and gardens. Up to 200 guests in house and gardens; from $875 for pavilion to $1,025 for hacienda itself (Moraga residents pay less).

Rockefeller Lodge, 2650 Market Ave., San Pablo 94806; 235-7344. Rustic exterior of John D. Rockefeller's 1800s West Coast hunting retreat belies its spaciousness; house and garden can accommodate up to 1,000 people (250 seated). Costs $400 Fridays, $500 weekends for 5 hours.


Kohl Mansion, 2750 Adeline Dr., Burlingame 94010; 591-7422. Shown on page 20, this Tudor-style residence (now a private school) offers three ornate rooms, a huge ballroom, and an expanse of lawn and patio. Holds up to 500 for reception, 250 seated indoors, 450 seated outdoors. From $2,100 to $4,500 for 8 hours.

Latham-Hopkins Gatehouse, 555 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park 94025; 858-3470 (Menlo Park Recreation Department). Well-maintained mid-1800s Victorian holds up to 40 guests indoors, up to 100 including small garden and deck. From $45 to $54 per hour.

Ralston Hall, 1500 Ralston Ave., Belmont 94002; 593-1601. Now part of College of Notre Dame, this 55,000-square-foot modified Italianate villa was a summer home built in the 1860s by banker William Chapman Ralston. Parlors, solarium, and dining room have period furnishings. Up to 250 guests seated, plus lawn and gardens; $1,200 to $3,300 for 8 hours.

Villa Montalvo, Box 158, Saratoga 95071; (408) 741-3421. The country estate of Senator James Phelan, this 1912 Mediterranean-style villa is set in 175 acres including formal gardens. Meetings and smaller weddings inside, up to 200 guests in Oval Garden in summer; $700 for 2 hours to $1,800 for 4 hours.
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Date:Nov 1, 1989
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