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Menlo Gates

The Menlo Gates Project



This is one of several existing photos of the gates that in 1854-55 were erected at the entrance to the cattle ranch of Dennis Oliver and Daniel McGlynn. The gates were located on County Road (El Camino Real) about where the parking lot just south of Menlo Avenue is today. At the top of the main gate was written in large letters the name of their ranch, Menlo Park. In the early 1860s, when the peninsula railroad was being planned, it was decided to have a stop just north of the San Francisquito Creek and to give it the name seen on this nearby gate.

At least twice (1886 and 1905) the gates were re-erected after being blown down during storms. Finally on the morning of July 7, 1922, they were completely destroyed by two speeding autos filled with singing passengers.

Today there is a great deal of interest in reproducing the Menlo Gates to serve as a visible symbol of Menlo Park’s origin. Local architect Ernst Meisner and daughter Melina have produced detailed drawings for construction. Keith Willig, a local landscape architect, has produced detailed drawings for utilities and landscaping. The current drawings package can be found HERE.


Above is a preliminary drawing of the Menlo Gates is shown here superimposed on a photograph of the Menlo Park Library as seen from Ravenswood Avenue (the Gate House is just to the left). The original location was almost exactly across El Camino Real on the west corner of the intersection with Menlo Avenue (now the parking lot for a small row of shops). The main gate is approximately 13’ wide, apparently intended for passage of wagons. The smaller gates on each side are sized for pedestrians. There is some evidence that the date 1854 was painted top center and possibly the names Oliver and McGlynn were above the smaller gates, but only the words MENLO PARK in distinctive lettering are visible in existing photographs.  (Drawing by Melina Meissner)

A tri-fold with the information above is available from MPHA.

You can print your own copy from the PDF file HERE.


Menlo Park: City helps foot bill for historic momument by Kevin Kelly, The Mercury News (10/27/2016)

Project to rebuild Menlo Park Gates moving ahead by Kate Bradshaw, The Almanac (12/27/2017)

Click here to see Notes on Gate History

Comment on date Oliver/McGlynn purchased their land and details of Menlo Gates

Per Oliver's diary of  (see Dennis Oliver page), the Gates were completed in 1855. "MENLO PARK" in foot-high letters is still (barely) visible (with a high-resolution iMac) in at least 1 photo of the Gates. The subsequent newspaper commentary (see Notes on Gate History) lends credence to the Gates also having a date under this name. The date may have been the date Oliver/McGlynn purchased their ranch. From Oliver's 1855 diary, the bulk of the land was obtained by assuming a mortgage held by (George C.) Johnson. How and when did Johnson acquire the land?  Based on the letter from Roscoe D. Wyatt to Dr. F. M. Stranger dated January 24, 1939, the date on the Gates was likely "1852," perhaps abbreviated to just "52" because of space limitations. There is little evidence that the two smaller arches had the names Oliver and McGlynn, although the idea is plausible. Did Oliver or McGlynn ever live on the ranch, even if just in summers? Unlikely given the long commute  time from San Francisco and the fact that they were active businessmen in the City. Did they ever even build houses for themselves? Again unlikely, although the 1855 diary does have them riding over to Woodside to investigate possible purchase of lumber that could be used for a house.

The 1905 report (see Notes on Gate History
) that the old Johnson barn, built in 1850, burned down, contains a lot of ambiguities. The barn may have actually been built by Oliver/McGlynn, and the date could equally well have been 1852, 53 or 54. Note that in Oliver's 1855 diary (see Dennis Oliver page), he describes a trip he and McGlynn made to the ranch in early 1855. There were 10 men plus one woman working on the ranch. They were then living in a common structure, which could plausibly be the same as "the old Johnson barn."

The Fund-Raising Campaign

The construction drawings for the Gates have been done pro bono by Menlo Park architect Ernst Meisner (now deceased) and his architect daughter Melina Meisner. The landscaping design has been done (also pro bono) by Menlo Park landscape architect Keith Willig. The campaign is asking those who want to join in this honoring of Menlo Park's history to fund the construction and installation, which is expected to cost on the order of $90,000. See estimate details. The City of Menlo Park has agreed to waive any charges on their part, which is an estimated savings of $5,000.

As of February 2018, the Menlo Gates Project has received 56 donations (including pledges) totaling $42,000.

There will be a plaque at the Gates with a short history of the Gates and the names of major donors to the reproduction. The donor categories are:

                   Gate Keepers       $10,000 or more
                   Historians             $5,000 - 9,999
                   Pioneers               $1,000 - 4,999
                   Donors                 Below $1,000

There are 3 ways to make a donation to this project:

1) Send a check* (made payable to MPHA) directly to
                 Menlo Park Historical Association
                 800 Alma Street
                 Menlo Park, CA 94025

*Make checks payable to MPHA and indicate it is for the Menlo Gates Project.

2) With your PayPal or your credit card, use the donate button on the MPHA Home Page (indicate it is for the Menlo Gates Project).

3) Or donate through our GoFundMe site at .

Menlo Park Historical Association is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

                                                                  The Menlo Gates Project Committee

                 Ernst Meissner, Architect (deceased)
                 Sam Sinnott, Architect
                 Keith Willig, Landscape Architect
Jym Clendenin, MPHA, Chair
Michael Demeter, MPHA
Bill Weseloh (deceased)
Dick Angus, MPHA
Dexter Chow, Cheeky Monkey Toys
Brian Flegel, Flegels Home Furnishings
Bobby Carcioni, MPHA

Earlier Campaign

1974 was the centennial celebration of the first (brief) incorporation of Menlo Park. At that time, the name Menlo Park included today's Atherton, East Palo Alto, and associated unincorporated areas. During the centennial period, some local citizens came up with the idea of reproducing the Menlo Gates and installing them on Ravenswood Ave between the Library and the Gate House--the same plan as the current campaign. Read about it HERE.

Interestingly enough, when publicity began to spread about the present campaign, a local resident came forward with construction drawings that as a new graduate of Stanford University (about 1974) he was commissioned to do of the Gates based on existing photographs. He preserved his drawings and has now loaned them to MPHA.

Last Updated: 29 December 2017
Subpages (1): Notes on Menlo Gates
Jym Clendenin,
Feb 14, 2018, 4:34 PM
Jym Clendenin,
Aug 21, 2016, 8:08 PM
Jym Clendenin,
Aug 12, 2017, 9:52 AM