Two developers, Trousdale and Murchison, built 200 homes in Mills Estate. Later, other developers joined the party. Today, Mills Estate has a population of more than 6,000. The large (1.5 square miles) district includes within its boundaries well-regarded Mills High School and Franklin Elementary School, along with a pair of large shopping centers on El Camino Real.
Mills Estate real estate is at the top of the Millbrae market. Large homes, with three, four or five bedrooms, built between 1954 and 1970, with 2,000 square feet of living space and above, large lots and bay views, tend to command prices of $1.2 million and up.
Mills Estate is not a pedestrian-friendly “streetcar suburb.” The neighborhood as a whole has a walkscore of 22, though it’s still just around five minutes by car down the hill. Nor is it a place for those who love traditional, early 20th-century architectural styles. Its popularity is based on more recent lifestyle ideals — space, luxury and privacy – that are proving to be just as lasting.
Prior to development, the land south of Millbrae Avenue, from the eastern marshes to Skyline Drive was the property of one man – Millbrae’s namesake, Darius Ogden Mills. Mills, founder of the Bank of California, purchased a large portion of the Buri Buri Rancho in the 1860s. Some of it he leased to his grandson to be used as Mills Field (now the San Francisco International Airport). Some of it became a dairy, operated by Mills and Alfred Green, which continued operations into the 1930s.
Some of it Mills set aside for her personal use. Mills built himself a 42-room mansion and gave his estate a name. Combining his name and the Scottish word for “rolling hills,” he called it “Millbrae.” Though Mills eventually moved to New York, Millbrae became his family’s gathering place, remaining so long after Darius Mills’ death, in 1910.
Subdivision came in the 1950s, two decades after Burlingame’s attempt to annex Mills Estate helped kick-start the process that led to Millbrae’s 1948 incorporation. The Mills family sold 1,100 acres plus the family mansion to a pair of developers, Paul Trousdale and Clint Murchison (later the founder of the Dallas Cowboys), for $3 million. Trousdale and Murchison, whose names now grace Mills Estate’ two major east-west thoroughfares, completed their first homes, on Sequoia Avenue, in December, 1954. By then the Mills mansion was gone, having burned to the ground the previous June.
Mills Estate is one of most desirable neighborhoods in Millbrae
Mills Estate is a high-end residential neighborhood located in the hills at the border between Millbrae and Burlingame (not to be confused with the adjacent Mills Estates neighborhood in Burlingame). Since 1954, when the first single-family Mills Estate home was completed, the neighborhood has become one of Millbrae’s most desirable, thanks to a combination of large, stylish homes and often breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay. Millbrae Highlands was the neighborhood that created Millbrae; Mills Estate is the one that put Millbrae on the map.