‘Western White House’ in California with oval office, rose garden sells for $15M

A neoclassical Georgian Colonial — known as the “Western White House” in the Bay Area community of Hillsborough — has sold for $15 million.

The home, which was originally listed for $25 million, was designed by California’s first female architect. The Sacramento Bee wrote about the palatial 25,000-square-foot, 24-room residence when it hit the market in October 2021.

“With historic grandeur rarely seen, Hillsborough’s ‘Western White House’ ranks among the region’s finest legacy estates,” according to the official property listing.

Julia Morgan, the first female licensed architect in the state, was also the first woman admitted to the famous l’École des Beaux-Arts architecture program in Paris. She gained notoriety after designing Hearst Castle. Morgan designed the Western White House on commission by the Hearst family. Built in 1915, it was once owned by George Hearst, the oldest son of media tycoon William Randolph Hearst. In 1930, George Hearst brought in Morgan after the residence was badly damaged by fire.

The property in the exclusive San Mateo County town of Hillsborough sprawls across nearly 3 acres of manicured grounds and features 11 bedrooms, 11 full baths, four half-baths, a wine cellar, movie theater, gym and a library inspired by the Oval Office of the nation’s Capitol building in Washington, D.C., according to the listing.

The home is spread over three levels. Behind a gated entry, the estate’s yard presents fountains, trees, hedgerows and an expansive mosaic motorcourt offering ample parking. Towering pillars open to sprawling lawns, a rose garden and ivy arches surrounding a massive statue-studded pool, bathhouse and gazebo.

“Unmatched in pedigree and amenities, this is an estate truly fit for royalty,” the listing states.

“My favorite features are the rose garden (and) when walking around the perimeter you can take in the classic architecture from every angle, and the exterior features of the estate,” listing agent Jennifer Gilson of Golden Gate Sotheby’s told The Bee when the property first listed.

Shailesh Mehta, former chairman and CEO of credit card issuer Providian Financial, purchased the property in 1997 “with the vision of maintaining the property while remodeling to bring it up to today’s design and keeping its rich, cultural aesthetic,” Gilson said.

Mehta bought the mansion in 1997 for about $6 million, according to Zillow, and did some heavy remodeling.

“They made extensive renovations to the pool and interior while adding master suites at either end of the house to create a warm, luxurious environment for family and guests,” Gilson said

The new owner is listed as the California corporation Elieabad LLC, according to Property Shark.

The asking price dropped to $19.8 million in February 2022, and then fell to the eventual selling price of $15 million in September 2022.

Compass agent Alex Buljan, who represented the new buyer, told SFGate that the time the estate spent on the market was not unusual. The transaction was completed last month.

“The property, because of its size and significance, required a buyer willing to put time, effort and capital into preserving its rich history,” he said.

Buljan told the Wall Street Journal that the $15 million deal is the second highest sale in Hillsborough this year.