The grounds of Adolph Sutro's former estate occupy a striking promontory overlooking Cliff House and Ocean Beach. Although the residence was demolished in 1939, the property remains a paradise of well-tended lawns and stately groves of distinctive trees.Sutro chanced upon the commanding site in 1881 during a leisurely buggy ride and purchased it forthwith. The original small cottage was enlarged to a comfortable, though not opulent, country home. Sutro lavished his attention on the grounds, importing drought-resistant flowers and trees from all over the world, including Norfolk Island pines, Canary Island date palms and Monterey cypresses. He designed a wind-powered watering system, built a large glass conservatory for delicate plants, and installed more than 200 statues of mythical and historical figures, many of questionable artistic merit. Ever the populist, Sutro placed a sign at the entrance inviting the public to walk, ride, and drive therein. After his death in 1898, Sutro's daughter Emma continued this open-door policy, bequeathing the estate to the city as a public park in 1938. In 1976, the National Park Service acquired Sutro Heights; it is now administered as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
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