The Roth Family

2009 San Mateo County History Makers

Lurline Matson Roth was the daughter of Lillie Low Matson and Captain William Matson, founder of Matson Navigation Company. In 1913, Lurline met her husband William P. Roth, who would later become the president of Matson Navigation Company. They had three children, a son, William Matson Roth, and identical twin daughters, Lurline and Berenice.

In 1937, the Roth Family purchased the Filoli Estate in Woodside. The 36,000 square foot estate included a forty-three room home and sixteen acres of Italian Renaissance-styled gardens that were originally designed in 1917, by the original owners. Mrs. Roth’s interest in horticulture inspired her to enhance the gardens by adding new plants and structures. Her work and detail to the gardens attracted the attention of many distinguished groups including botanical and horticultural societies and garden clubs. Filoli Gardens became known worldwide. Mr. Roth died in 1963. Mrs. Roth remained at Filoli until 1973. She donated Filoli’s 125 acres, along with the house and gardens to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975.

In addition to the contribution of Filoli, Mrs. Roth and her son William played an important role in the restoration of Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. In 1962, they purchased Ghirardelli Square in fear that it would be torn down and replaced with condominiums. They hired a landscape architectural firm to convert the factory with its historic brick structure into a retail complex. It was considered to be the first major adaptive re-use project in the United States. Ghirardelli Square was later listed on the National Register of Historical Places to preserve for future generations.