The mission of the Baywood Owners Improvement Association (BOIA) is to enrich our Baywood neighborhood through civic representation, local initiatives, community involvement and a partnership with the City of San Mateo.
Baywood: A History
Adapted from Conrad C. Rankin’s "Baywood History" (date unknown)
The neighborhood known as Baywood was originally part of the Rancho de las Pulgas land grant from Spain to a distinguished Arguello family. The Pulgas Rancho was noted for the fertility of its soil and the richness of its grazing lands. And the part which we know as “Baywood” was the favorite place in all the countryside for fiestas; senoritas danced beneath its shade trees and caballeros spurred their horses over the open spaces.
Eventual landowners Frederick W. Macondray and his wife sold a 377 acre plot of the rancho to John Parrott on February 1, 1860 for $30,000. Legend says John Parrott fell in love with this area years before, when he and William D.M. Howard camped on the banks of San Mateo Creek after being chased by a bear. Besides a stand of oak and bay trees (on what is now approximately 120 West Third Avenue), John Parrott built his beloved “Baywood” mansion in 1868.
John Parrott (1811-1884) was a Virginia gentleman who served as U.S. Consul in Mazatlan, Mexico from 1837 to 1850, made his fortune in banking and merchandising after having settled in San Francisco in 1850. While living on his spacious Baywood estate, Mr. Parrott and his wife, Abbey Meagher Parrott (1829-1917) and seven children, had a deep love for horses, trees and flower gardens. John Parrott brought from his native Virginia a deep love of trees and flowers. Baywood's fertile soil and golden sunshine inspired him to transform several acres around his mansion into spacious flower beds with trim hedges and ground cover with shrubs and grasses. And he supplemented the estate’s native bay and oak trees with redwood, eucalyptus, acacias, magnolias, sycamores, chestnut, palm, spruce and pine trees. In fact, John Parrott named his beloved estate “Baywood” in honor of a cluster of Bay trees on the property. Famous since the earliest Spanish days, Parrott was enamored with the trees’ enormous height and spread of branches. Besides being a horticulturist, Mr. Parrott maintained a well stocked horse ranch on what is now the Baywood Subdivision of San Mateo.
Before Baywood could be built into a subdivision, it had to cede from Hillsborough and be annexed to the City of San Mateo. This was accomplished when the gardeners and Parrott family members living on the country estate cast five votes to give San Mateo one of its most valuable subdivisions on June 15, 1927. The Dunn Williams Company purchased the 377 acre Baywood Estate from the Parrott Investment Company for $850,000. Baywood’s first subdivision consisted of 114 acres, which produced 445 lots for single family dwellings and 27 acres for apartment house sites. Groundbreaking for Baywood’s first model home also occurred on July 6, 1927. Lots sales were managed by Raybould & Johnson and ranged in price from $3,000 to $5,500 each.
The Bay tree located at Fifth and Dartmouth Avenues was honored with the establishment and dedication of a 35,000 square foot mini park by the City of San Mateo on May 12, 1979. The enormous Bay tree measures 20 feet in circumference and stands 70 feet tall. It is over 300 hundred years old and is one of the three oldest Bay trees in California. The mini park was purchased by the City for $143,000 in 1973. Part of the funds to purchase this park came from donations by individuals and organizations, who purchased one square foot parcels in the park for $7.62.
Baywood is a delightful place to live. The avenues of Baywood follow natural contours, curving between stately trees, broad green lawns and gardens. Families of taste find Baywood the home of their dreams, in an area of architecturally distinct homes. There will never be another Baywood.