Le Petit Trianon is named after two separate French estates, the first being Louis XIV’s Grand Trianon (1688) and Louis XV’s smaller version, Petit Trianon which was completed in 1768. Built as a country estate in 1892 by Charles Baldwin and his wife, Ellen Hobart Baldwin, Le Petit Trianon served as both a winery and entertainment venue. It was named due to its scaled-down architectural similarities to Le Grand Trianon and passed through various owners prior to falling into disrepair. It is now home to the California History Center, a program of the Social Science Division of De Anza College, and the California History Center Foundation. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Built as a
country estate by the Baldwins, Le Petit
Trianon featured a main house, vineyards, underground cellars, and various
outbuildings. The main house was modeled
after Louis XIV’s Grand Trianon to
include its columnns, pilasters, windows and shutters. Architect Willis Polk designed a house with
Ionic columnns, arched windows, and ornate dining room, grand salon, and
library. It also featured a sunken
garden complete with reflecting pool.
Its out-buildings included a barn and cottages for the ranch hands and
guests. The Baldwin’s used their country
estate to hold elaborate parties, complete with electricity and the area’s
estate was later sold to Harriet Pullman Carolan, the daughter of railroad
magnate, George Pullman, and her husband Francis. Francis passed a short time later and Harriet
then married Arthur Schermerhorn. The
Carolans and Schermerhorns continued the legacy begun by the Baldwins and used Le Petit Trianon as a country
entertainment venue. The vineyard was
then sold to canning magnate, E. F. Euphrat in 1940 who, in turn, sold it to
Foothill College in 1959 and the large stone winery became a bookstore.
has been the home of De Anza College since 1965. However, by the late 1960s the buildings had
fallen into disrepair and local officials began plans for their demolition. Local historian Louis Stocklmeir and college
trustee Mary Levine created the Trianon Foundation to raise funds to save the
venerable estate. Together, they raised
funds and had the estate listed on the National Register of Historic Places,
effectively saving it from the wrecking ball.
building was then moved to make room for the Flint Center for the Performing
Arts and sat on railroad ties until 1974 when a permanent location was finally
secured. The remaining buildings then
went through extensive rehabilitation efforts that were completed in 1982. Le
Petit Trianon now offers public, local, and state exhibits, lectures, and
workshops in conjunction with De Anza College.
It is now also home to the California History Center and the Stocklmeir
Library that features material related to California and Santa Clara
history. It also features various
exhibits, to include its annual “Day of Remembrance,” which examines the impact
and legacy of Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 which established
Japanese internment camps during World War II.
It also hosts temporary exhibits such as “A Woman’s Fight: The History
of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.