carriage-house-550Holbrook-Palmer Park Carriage House

Help Restore the Historic Gen Merrill Carriage House

in Holbrook-Palmer Park!

The Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park have embarked on a significant and one-of-a-kind undertaking for a complete restoration and renovation of the Carriage House. Please join us on this journey as we work not only to preserve our history, but to also protect our community’s future.


Gen Merril Carriage House

Gen Merril Carriage House

The Carriage House was built in 1896 by Charles Holbrook as part of his summer estate in Atherton. The Carriage House was an accessory building to the main house on the 22 acre Elmwood Estate purchased by Mr. Holbrook in 1881. The Elmwood Estate was bequeathed to the Town of Atherton in 1964 and is now known as Holbrook-Palmer Park. The Carriage House is one of two original structures built by the Holbrook Family which still stand at the Park today – the other structure is the 140+ year old Water Tower. Aside from the Water Tower, the Carriage House is the most identifiable feature of the Park. It is a unique and special building for this area. On November 9, 2000, the Carriage House was renamed to honor a dedicated Atherton Dame (The Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park were formerly known as “The Dames”) and Holbrook-Palmer Park Foundation member named Genevieve Merrill (aka “Gen Merrill”) who was the President of the Atherton Dames from 1972-1973 and again from 1992-1993. Read the full history of Holbrook-Palmer Park.

Project Description

In 2011-12, the Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park embarked on their most significant project and fundraising goal, $2.5 million restoration and renovation of the 118 year old, historic Gen Merrill Carriage House. While the Carriage House still retains its structural and historical bearings, it has lost most of its grandeur and stateliness. Over the decades, it has become run down and neglected. There is a need to preserve and restore the Carriage House because it is one of the few historic buildings in Atherton which is still available to the public. In the past, there have been many attempts to improve the Carriage House, but these actions were narrow in scope and did not maintain the authenticity of the building. Until now, there has never been a complete and comprehensive plan to restore and renovate the Carriage House. Today, the Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park have retained the services of renowned architect Adolf Rosekrans who over a course of a year has prepared thoughtful plans to restore, renovate, and remodel the Carriage House. Mr. Rosekrans is the architect who assisted in the complete restoration and renovation of the historic Folger Stable in Woodside and he also serves on the Woodside Planning Commission. Mr. Rosekrans has a commitment to preserving historical buildings and the Friends are pleased that he is committed to the Carriage House Project. The current design plans outline a careful restoration of the authentic and historical elements of the Carriage House so that its heritage can be enjoyed and preserved for generations to come.

Carriage_House-plans-600 Draft Design Schematic for Carriage House

The plans provide for:

  • New seismic plywood bracing at all four corners of both floors
  • New accessible entrance ramp
  • New full-height doors
  • New code compliant stairs in Entry (removed from Carriage Room)
  • Remodeled kitchen
  • Refurbished Carriage Room with new wood ceiling to conceal sprinklers
  • Refurbished historic tie-stalls
  • New accessible bathrooms
  • New code compliant second exit from first floor
  • Existing trusses to be removed to create a second large activity space.
  • New roof and insulation
  • Remodeled space for meetings and classes
  • New accessible bathrooms
  • New landscaping for Courtyard in connection with walking path
  • New Elevator/Stair Tower to Second Floor.

Once restored and renovated, the Carriage House will offer an intimate environment for embracing history while offering the luxuries needed for hosting meetings, parties, seminars, classes and/or workshops. The Carriage House is a unique building as it presides over Atherton’s greatest treasure – our community Park. Once restored, the Carriage House will offer a beautiful venue opportunity for public while at the same time be a monument to our local heritage. With the design in hand, the Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park are now in the planning stages for a $2.5 million capital campaign to support this vital project. The restoration and renovation of the Carriage House is a significant and one-of-a-kind undertaking by the Friends. There is a need to preserve the Carriage House because it is an icon representing the unique history of Atherton—a one of a kind remaining turn of the century Carriage Houses in the Bay Area. As such, the Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park recognize that the restoration and renovation of the Carriage House will be a meaningful contribution to the Park, to the Town, and to the entire Peninsula community. The Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park invite you to join us in our journey of preserving the past for generations to come.


The Friends have reached out to many local community leaders and groups and have received the following endorsements for the Carriage House Restoration Project:

  • Atherton Heritage Association
  • Atherton Park & Recreation Commission
  • Holbrook-Palmer Park Recreation Foundation
  • Atherton Town Council Member Bill Widmer
  • Atherton Town Council Member & Vice-Mayor Rick DeGolia
  • San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley (3rd District)
  • San Mateo County Supervisor Warren Slocum (4th District)
  • California State Representative Richard Gordon (District 24)
  • California State Senator Jerry Hill (13th District)


Thank you for supporting the Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park’s Carriage House Restoration & Renovation Project

If you have any questions, please contact Susan from the Capital Campaign Committee.

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