#36 – The Runnymede Sculpture Garden

Ok, so it’s just a stone’s throw from the border of Redwood City and Woodside, but it’s worth a mention because it’s so unique.

As someone once wrote “a 65 mph glance is all most people get” of the Sculpture Garden. Or if you happen to be driving down the backside of Canada College, taking a glance across the freeway lets you see just a few of the over 160 sculptures here.  Or if going for a run on Runnymede Trail, looking west you can spot some.  Or even if taking the Farm Hill Blvd. exit off southbound 280, right before turning left onto Farm Hill, glance to your right to see some unique sculptures.

Here’s the “aw bummer” part: it’s rarely open to the public.  When it is, it’s usually for a fundraiser of some sort, so you’d have to keep your eyes and ears open.  I did find one website here, where someone had taken some cool pictures of the rarely-seen grounds.

But here’s the interesting history of this little-known gem in the “94062”:

Runnymede Sculpture Farm is a vast landscape dotted with over 160 outdoor, often monolithic sculptures.  Some are placed in open spaces, where perspectives shift and fresh questions arise as observers move about and view the artworks from different positions. And others are situated among the oaks, or on trailsides just beyond a bend — waiting to be discovered. Waiting to surprise.

The property, with landmark stone barns and stables, has been in the Rosekrans family since 1930, when it was bought by Jack and Alma Rosekrans. Alma, the daughter of Adolph and Alma de Brettville Spreckels, used the grounds as home for her hunter and jumper horses.

Alma had a deep appreciation for oak trees, and was responsible for the abundance of the trees at Runnymede, according to a history of the property written by her son, the late John Rosekrans.

The couple had three sons — John, Adolph and Charles. It was John who, with his wife Dodie, established the sculpture farm in the mid-1980s.

In his Runnymede history, John Rosekrans writes that he was inspired by a visit in 1984 to the Storm King Sculpture Park in New York’s Hudson Valley. He was “inspired with how the creation of man, in the form of outdoor sculpture, blended and harmonized with the creation of nature. They seemed to have a synergistic effect on each other. This was the genesis for Runnymede Sculpture Farm.”

From then on, John and Dodie Rosekrans made a point of seeing as much sculpture as possible on their travels in this country and Europe, with the goal of collecting pieces for the Woodside property, according to Mary Maggini, former curator at Runnymede.

The sculptures were acquired only from living artists, and most pieces date from 1985 to the early to mid-1990s.

Since John’s death in 2001, his brother Adolph has taken over the role of overseeing the outdoor gallery. Although there are no plans to acquire more sculptures at this point, he says, the existing collection is regularly maintained by a crew of two: Sam Perry and Matthew Scheatzle.

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