Summer Palace: The Montalvo Arts Center

Aug. 8, 2020, 9:05 p.m.

Dozens of masked visitors meander within The Montalvo Arts Center on a crisp summer morning.

The Montalvo Arts Center is a ground for the creative and artistic mind, as the center regularly hosts arts and cultural events and studies for the public. It also serves as a vibrant tourist attraction all year. 

The estate revolves around the historic Villa Montalvo, a 1912 Italian-Mediterranean style mansion burrowed in the Saratoga Hills. The lawn of the mansion encompasses a spacious grass field, two fountains and The Italianate Garden. The backyard of the Villa includes a theatre and hiking trails. At the peak of the trail, one can view the entire Bay Area.

The property was owned and constructed by James Duval Phelan, a former San Francisco mayor, U.S. senator and businessman. Construction of the property lasted between 1912 and 1914. Upon Phelan’s death, the estate was donated to California as a public park and arts center. 

“I would like the property at Saratoga, California, known as Villa Montalvo, to be maintained as a public park open under reasonable restrictions, the buildings and grounds immediately surrounding the same to be used as far as possible for the development of art, literature, music and architecture by promising students,” Phelan wrote in his will.

Although the mansion itself is closed for tours, visitors may view its surrounding gardens, scenery and trails under social distancing guidelines. 

I visited the Montalvo Arts Center on July 25 to capture the scenery through my photography, some of which you can find below. 

Contact Andy Wang at ‘at’

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