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The Landmark Flood Estate

331 Greer Road, Woodside California

History of the Flood Family and the Flood Estate

The Flood Family legacy is a significant part of California history.  It begins with the birth of James Clair Flood in 1826 in Staten Island, New York to Irish immigrant parents.  In 1849 he sailed for San Francisco and the Gold Rush  After some success he returned east to marry Mary Emma Leary of Wexford County, Ireland.  They were back in San Francisco in 1854.


In 1857, he opened a saloon called the Auction Lunch on Washington Street with partner William O’Brien.  In 1858 they sold the saloon and went into business as stockbrokers.  After the discovery of silver in Nevada in 1859, the partners began investing in mining stocks.  The following year they formed the Bonanza Firm  with  James Graham Fair, a mine superintendent and  John William Mackay, a mining engineer.  Mackay and Fair had the mining knowledge and Flood and O’Brien raised the money.  In 1873  the new firm gained control of the Consolidated Virginia Mining Company which operated California claims in the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada.    It is in this mine that the greatest silver bonanza in history was discovered.   The four became known as  “Bonanza Kings”   The “Bonanza Kings” profited, however, in late 1875 Flood and O’Brien sought to become leaders in finance and eventually started the Bank of Nevada which was eventually sold to Wells Fargo Bank


Not only was James Clair Flood a financier but he invested in real estate. He built his home on Nob Hill known as the Flood Mansion, now the Pacific Union Club, and also purchased 600 acres in Atherton where he built an extravagant mansion known as Linden Towers for his country home. This was later torn down and the area is now known as Lindenwood plus the adjacent 21- acre Flood Park.

James Clair’s son, James Leary Flood, constructed a mansion on Broadway, now Convent of Sacred Heart, and his daughter, Cora Jane Flood lived in a second Broadway mansion, which today is the Hamlin School. James Leary also built the Flood Building on Market at Powell and 5th, deemed by many as one of the most significant buildings in San Francisco. His son, James Flood (grandson of James Clair) built the Flood Estate in Woodside after marrying Elizabeth Dresser in 1938. Their four children still own the property today.

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