#1 Gideon’s Lion sits in front of Tuscan Hall.
Provenance: Carved Stone – not cast cement – Gideon’s lion
(his name is Dandini) originally graced the front of Carolands, the California mansion that was evaluated for purchase by the US Government in 1939 to be used as a Western White House. It was considered again for this purpose during the Kennedy administration.
Harriet Pullman Carolan, born in 1869, was the daughter of George Pullman who became the wealthiest man in Chicago after creating the Pullman Palace railway car. The mansion was built on the highest local geographical point in order to “look down on the Hearsts and surpass the Crockers.”
The Chateau is occasionally called the “last of the great homes” in the U.S., a reference to a spree of mansion-building that began with the residence of W.K. Vanderbilt in 1881 and ended with this mansion, Carolands, just after the national income tax was enacted in 1913. Carolands would remain essentially uninhabited for its first 29 years.
Countess Lillian Remillard Dandini purchased Carolands in 1950, and in so doing, saved it from demolition by promoters more interested in developing the land than in its historic architecture and significance. The 23 years she lived in the chateau were a period of parties, of entertaining and holding charity benefits. Countess Lillian frequently invited the French Community to the Chateau and opened it annually to San Francisco bay area French students. The Countess’s generosity in sharing the house resulted in her receiving a “Woman of the Year” award from the city of Burlingame.
Sadly, when the Countess died in 1973, the Chateau was in greater risk of demolition than ever before, owing to its enormous upkeep (heating alone averaged $12,000.00/month) The Countess left the Chateau to the town of Hillsborough to be used as a French and Italian musical, artistic and literary cultural center. The Countess did not, unfortunately, leave an endowment to run such an undertaking, hoping that her establishment of a gift of this historical importance would spur the City of Hillsborough. The city fathers ruled out any such use, saying they could not afford to pay the necessary maintenance expenses and so they blithely sold the estate.
Princess Pennie and the wizard purchased the century-old lion from the Carolands Chateau (below) to adorn the front of Tuscan Hall on the campus of Wizard Academy.