Ella Park Builds a House


Ella Nichols Park inherited $100,000 outright and $15,000 a year for life, and with this small fortune she returned to the scenes of her childhood. In late 1884, she wrote her friend Eliza Park McCullough, "I am so much healthier in San Rafael... I bought a lot near Father's and Mother's and thought of building but... I had better leave well enough alone... The property is a good investment, so I am not sorry I have it."

In July of 1886 she bought the J. D. Walker estate for the then-extravagant sum of $20,000 and made plans to remove the house Walker had built. Later that summer, she sold all the Walker furniture at auction. A lull followed this flurry of activity; it was not until February of 1888 that she hired E. F. Chisolm, a San Rafael contractor, to build her a house to be completed by August of that year.

Falkirk, the house you see today, went up at lightning speed, despite its wealth of carefully crafted interiors and intricate facade. On August 23rd, 1888, the Marin Journal declared, "Mrs. Park's new residence, on the old Walker lot, is completed so far as the contractor, Mr. Chisolm, is concerned, and will be occupied next month. It is one of the most ornamental and best built mansions in this place of beautiful homes. The architecture is conglomerate, Queen and Eastlake, As You Like It, the effect being harmonious and pleasing."

Clinton Day was the architect, as all who know his work would recognize. The ceilings below are all finished in natural woods, and the walls of the hall, reception, and dining rooms are paneled in Sierra pine, burled ash, and redwood and the library in matting and bamboo. The plan is unique, original, itself alone, and one is impressed with its comfort, roominess, elegance, and perfection.