I fell under the spell of Greystone Mansion seeing it in the pages of Veranda magazine as their showhouse in 2009. Designed by favorite talents Mary McDonald and Nathan Turner, the courtyard was transformed into a chinoiserie themed backdrop in crisp apple green and white for the opening gala. (Gala images via Veranda Magazine)
I finally had the chance to see the house and gardens with a group of fellow designers and was not only mesmerized by its beauty, but captivated by the story behind this grand estate filled with murder, mystery and intrigue. Special thanks to Tricia Jacobs and Leslie Newsom Rascoe for sharing their articles and stories about this incredible work of architectural history. Rumor has it that the ghost of Ned Doheney occasionally reveals himself…only to guests who appreciate the beauty of Greystone.
Greystone Mansion, and the surrounding grounds it shares its magnificent beauty with, are rich in California history. Edward Laurence Doheny, the original proprietor of the Greystone land, was born in 1856 in the small Midwestern town of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. By the time he was a young teen, Doheny’s adventuresome spirit and love of the wilderness led him to prospecting for gold and soon thereafter, oil. In 1892, Doheny and his friend Charles A. Canfield, were the first to strike oil in Los Angeles. They later discovered large oil deposits in Mexico which, combined with their Los Angeles holdings, made them the largest producers of oil in the world at that time.
Edward Doheny and his wife Carrie Louella Wilkins had two children. Their first, a daughter Eileen, passed away when she was just seven years old. On November 6, 1893, their only son, Edward “Ned” Laurence Doheny, Jr., was born and grew up as heir to one of the world’s great financial empires. Ned went on to marry Lucy Smith of Pasadena and in 1926 Edward Laurence Doheny Sr. gave his son as a wedding gift a premium parcel of land consisting of 12.58 acres with sweeping citywide views.
Construction of the palatial manor home began February 15, 1927 and although Ned, his wife Lucy, and their five children moved into the residence in September 1928, the estate took three years to complete at a cost of over $3 million, an almost unimaginable sum in real estate at the time.
The original cost to construct Greystone’s entire estate was $3,166,578.12, the Mansion alone cost $1,238,378.76. The extraordinary result became known as Greystone for its abundant use of stone construction and its rather somber gray appearance. In addition to the Mansion, originally located on the grounds were stables and kennels, tennis courts, a fire station, gatehouse, swimming pool and pavilion, a greenhouse, a lake, babbling brooks and cascading waterfalls.
But on the night of February 16, 1929, only five months after the family had moved in, Ned Doheny was found shot to death inside the home, at the age of 36 and the victim of an apparent murder-suicide perpetrated by his longtime personal friend and aid Hugh Plunket. Lucy continued living at Greystone until 1955, after which she and her second husband Leigh M. Battson sold the majority of the original land to the Paul Trousdale Corporation, developers of Beverly Hills’ prestigious “Trousdale Estate” homes. The following year Lucy and her husband sold for approximately $1.5 million the remaining 18.3 acre parcel, including Greystone Mansion, to Henry Crown of Chicago-based Park Grey Corporation. Mr. Crown, however, never formally occupied the site but instead leased it out as a popular filming location, a legacy Greystone still maintains today.
The City of Beverly Hills purchased the property from Mr. Crown in 1965 for approximately $1.3 million with plans to install a 19-million gallon water tank on the property as its hilltop site provided tremendous natural water pressure. This site continues to serve as the City of Beverly Hills’ largest reservoir. On September 16, 1971, the entire 18.3 acre site, including its centerpiece Greystone Mansion, was formally dedicated as a public park by the City of Beverly Hills. Five years later, on April 23, 1976, Greystone Estate was officially recognized as a historic landmark and was entered into the Registry of Historic Places.
Greystone Mansion was designed by the renowned Southern Californian architect Gordon B. Kaufmann and was constructed by the P.J. Walker Company. The landscape architect was Paul G. Thiene who used a potpourri of Gothic and neoclassic architectural styles.
The structure of Greystone Mansion was built of steel reinforced concrete, faced with Indiana limestone and is roofed of Welsh slate. Upon entering the Mansion, the hand railings and arch-framed stairway typify both the opulence and craftsmanship of the era and of the entire Greystone property. All of the oak banisters, balustrades and rafters were hand carved, while each of the seven chimneys was designed and crafted by a different artist. The floors of the grand hall showcased black and white inlaid marble and an elaborate living room held a balcony where musicians often performed on special occasions. The kitchen featured a pantry built to secure a large adjoining wall safe that was used to store the family’s silver and gold services. The Mansion was built with a servant’s quarters which occupied two floors of the east wing and accommodated a live-in staff of fifteen.
There are fifty-five livable rooms within the 46,054 square feet of living space in the Mansion. While the Mansion’s bedrooms were spread throughout the second floor, the master bedroom suite was located in the west wing and featured an accompanying sitting room, two baths, a dressing room and a massage room. All the rooms with southern exposure offered a panoramic view of the Los Angeles Basin, from downtown to the beaches of Santa Monica Bay. In the north wing where the two oldest boy’s bedrooms were located, a circular staircase led into an adjacent recreation wing that contained a movie theater room, an original Brunswick bowling alley, billiard room and a hidden bar.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again… or was it Wuthering Heights, or Henry James’ Bly House, home of the ghostly children of “Turn of the Screw?” No, it was not a fictional English country estate, filled with regrets and windswept gardens. And it was not a dream. It was Greystone, the awe-inspiring, grey-green estate built by the oil rich Doheny clan in the 1920s. Looking down on Beverly Hills, with its bright blue sky and terra cotta Mediterranean mammoths, this stone-faced Tudor mansion looms above a field of honeysuckle. This capitalist dream is now a public park, and the grounds are open year round, although the mansion’s interiors are rarely subjected to mere plebeians, most probably for reasons of economy.
As if by design, the day I visited Greystone was one of those rare days of lovely Los Angeles gloom. It was drizzling and warm as I made my way up the winding hillside. I stepped into the rain, and into another world. Beautiful terraced gardens, more akin to the palaces of Europe than L.A., were filled with outstanding views, trickling fountains, towering trees and overgrown paths leading to cozy nooks. The house itself was silent, its grey walls of Indiana slate glimmering like an exotic pearl, slightly darker than the overcast sky. I peered into the windows of the mansion, trying to imagine which ground floor room was the guest bedroom where, on February 16, 1929, Ned Doheny and his best friend Hugh Plunkett died — each man killed by a single bullet to the head.
But I was snapped out of my gothic reveries by the sound of children belting out the lyrics to the musical “Grease.” A quick walk to the mansion’s large circular driveway and further up to the filled-in Gatsby-esque Grecian pool revealed gaggles of children, the enthusiastic members of a local summer camp. They were practicing with the unfocused ease of children, shrieking and dancing, unaware and unafraid of their macabre surroundings. Life goes on even at Greystone, a palace of dreamlike beauty borne out of the deadly dealings of corrupt commerce.
Ned said to me at the dinner table, “Mama we could be awfully happy if we were poor couldn’t we?” I asked him “Dear, dear little tot, why?” He said “Because Papa wouldn’t go away so often.”– Letter from Estelle Doheny to E.L. Doheny 2
The story of Edward Laurence Doheny is one of Wild West legend. The son of poor Irish immigrants, clever Doheny spent his early adulthood kicking around the rough and tumble mining towns of the West, searching for gold and other precious metals. By 1892, he was in his late 30s, broke, with a troubled wife, and a sickly daughter who would die that same year. But sadness over his personal life was matched by sudden professional success. That fall he struck liquid gold, when on a hunch he dug his first oil well in the sticky tar fields of Los Angeles. He was further overjoyed when on November 6, 1893, his wife Carrie gave birth to a son, E.L Doheny Jr., known to the family as Ned. Doheny viewed Ned as his second chance, “swearing that he would achieve great wealth to provide a secure life for the boy.” 3
He made good on his oath. Over the next two decades, Doheny would become wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. In addition to virtually controlling the oil markets in California, he would make even more money at Tampico in Mexico, where he drilled some of the most productive oil wells in the world. Tampico was practically his own fiefdom, and he developed close and (according to many critics) questionable ties with the Mexican government. To his great sorrow, he lived apart from Carrie and Ned, who resided in San Francisco. The couple was divorced in 1899. E.L. soon married Estelle Betzold, a telephone operator whom he had fallen in love with over the phone lines. Carrie, always fragile, killed herself by ingesting battery acid, and Ned came to live with E.L. and Estelle. Estelle took the job of raising Ned seriously, and the pudgy boy was soon very attached to her. The two became close, playing games in their big mansion on Chester Place while E.L. was often away, overseeing his kingdom of oil.
Ned was educated at private Catholic schools, and spent a year at Stanford before graduating from USC. He grew into a spoiled, easygoing, funny and handsome man with a “heart of gold,” who idolized his father and adored his step-mother. In 1913, while courting his future wife, Lucy Smith, he met a working-class young man named Theodore “Hugh” Plunkett. Hugh worked at the Smith family’s gas station near Chester Place. They became great friends, and soon Hugh became one of the Dohenys’ many servants, acting as chauffeur for the entire Doheny family. Both men served in the Great War. When they returned from service, Hugh acted as Ned’s personal secretary, often traveling with him as he became more involved with his father’s businesses. But according to Attorney Fredrick R. Kellogg, although Hugh acted as secretary to Ned, “their relationship was more than that of friends.” Another associate, Dr. E.C. Fishbaugh, put it more succinctly — “They were like brothers.” 4
But, they were “brothers” with wildly different bank accounts. Upon their marriage, Ned and Lucy were presented with a mansion adjacent to the elder Doheny’s Chester Place castle, while Hugh and his wife, Harriet, lived in modest accommodations. The younger Dohenys were L.A.’s elite darlings. Their exploits were often the lead story on society pages, whether sailing on the family yacht, Casiana, or attending a dinner at a table that “glowed with a handsome mound of Richmond roses.” 5 They lived a life of refined excess, bankrolled by the Doheny millions. In 1919, even a car Ned purchased for Lucy was newsworthy. It was described as “the classiest creation of the year,” custom made by Earl Automobile Works:
A silver engraved monogram inlaid in red enamel is mounted on each door. On the panel between the door over the little extra fender [there are] specially designed coach lamps; these lamps were designed and constructed by the Tiffany Company in New York City. These lamps give the car a very foreign touch. The car is upholstered in bright long-grain red leather, which forms a great contrast with the body and wheels which are painted Willey’s battleship gray, with a satin finish.
But life for Ned Doheny was not all play and no work. In November 1921, Ned and Hugh checked into a suite at the Plaza Hotel. On the 30th, Ned walked into the New York banking house of Blair and Company. He withdrew $100,000 from a banking account he shared with his wife, and put the bills in a small black bag. He and Hugh then traveled to Washington D.C. where they met with Albert Fall, the Secretary of the Interior for the Harding administration, at the Wardman Park Hotel. Ned handed over the money to Fall, a friend of his father from the rough and tumble mining days. Fall handed Ned a promissory note. Within a month, Doheny Sr. had deposited $100,000 back into Ned and Lucy’s account.
This simple transaction would turn Ned and Hugh’s world upside down. E.L. Doheny was soon awarded the contract for the Elks Hill Naval Petroleum Reserve in Kern County, California. The exchange of money, which Doheny would call a loan to an old friend, and numerous government officials would call a bribe, was part of the infamous Teapot Dome scandal, which would consume the rest of the 1920s. In 1924, Albert Fall, fellow oil man Harry F .Sinclair, and E.L. were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. At a grand jury hearing in D.C. in May, Ned refused to answer questions regarding his role in the delivery, although he testified that neither he nor his father had done anything wrong. E.L. was acquitted in December 1926, with Estelle, Ned, and Lucy by his side. However, due to endless political duels in Washington, E.L. was soon charged again, this time with bribery.
In the midst of this chaos, doting (and perhaps grateful) E.L. decided to present Ned, Lucy and their five children with an extraordinary gift. Built on 429-acres overlooking the still sleepy village of Beverly Hills, Greystone was designed by Gordon Kaufmann, a prominent architect whose work included the Hoover Dam and the Los Angeles Times building. Begun in 1927, the 55-room mansion included a bowling alley with a hidden bar, walls made of leaded glass, a main hall of checkered Carrara marble, a personal switchboard, secret passageways, and grand rooms filled with European antiques. The exquisite grounds, including an 80-foot waterfall which could be turned on with a switch, stables, riding trails, a swimming pool, kennel, and the still awe-inspiring Renaissance inspired “Cyprus Lane,” were designed by landscape architect Paul Thiene. According to Thiene’s main designer Emile Kuehl: “The sky was the limit. I would ask Mr. Thiene what the client might want. ‘Give them everything, was the reply.'” 7
We know so little about another. Not a ninetieth part. In a moment of fever and excitement, this man was not himself and his moment came. We leave him in God’s keeping.
— Eulogy of Hugh Plunkett 8
But to have to say goodbye to one in the full flush of manhood, to have to stand at the grave of one in the full bloom of life-this, in sober truth, is bitter death!
— Eulogy of Ned Doheny 9
It was to be Ned and Lucy’s home, but it was Hugh who oversaw the construction of Greystone. Ned was frequently in Washington supporting his father through the Teapot Dome scandal. According to another family retainer, “Hugh often signed checks for Mr. Doheny totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. He attended to most of the details of the new home and actually paid the contractors bills with checks made out in Mr. Doheny’s name.” 10
In the fall of 1928, with the house nearing completion, the Doheny faithful claimed that the once quiet, even tempered Hugh was starting to unravel. Some blamed trouble with his teeth, others a dependence on sleeping pills, the breakdown of his eleven year marriage, and other “unknown problems.” What no one, including the Los Angeles Times, mentioned was that Ned and Hugh had been called to testify in the upcoming bribery trials of Albert Fall and E.L. Doheny. And although Ned had been assured immunity, Hugh had not.
Against this tense backdrop, the Doheny clan moved into Greystone before Thanksgiving. Ned and Lucy celebrated their first holiday season at Greystone with a thirty-foot Christmas tree adorned with piles of presents. They hosted a party featuring one hundred couples dancing to Christmas songs played by an orchestra sitting in a special gallery above the mansion ballroom. On Christmas Eve, Hugh supposedly suffered a complete “nervous breakdown,” and was put in the care of the family doctor, Dr. Ernest Clyde Fishbaugh.
By February, the Doheny circle claimed Hugh was completely unhinged. According to Dr. Fishbaugh, on the afternoon of February 16, he, Ned, and Lucy confronted Hugh at Greystone. They urged him to take a “rest” at a sanitarium. Was this to get him mental help, or to exempt him from testifying at Fall’s upcoming trial? Or both? We will never know. Whatever the case, the doctor claimed that “Hugh refused. He simply sat there. Almost shaking at times. Hands clenched. Jaw set at times. He said he would come out of it all right. I could see it was no use to push him further and so I left.” 11
According to the “official story,” in the early evening of February 16, Ned and Lucy went to visit Hugh at his apartment, again urging him to get help. During this visit, Ned uttered some “impulsive remarks” that upset Hugh. Ned and Lucy left Hugh, and went to the theater. They returned to Greystone. As they were getting ready for bed, Hugh called. 12 He was at the garage at the gates of Greystone, and said he wanted to come to the mansion. Lucy implored him not to. A little while later, Hugh let himself into the main house with his pass key. Ned found him in the guest bedroom he often slept in, and sat down to talk with his troubled friend. An hour or so passed, and the two men had drinks and smoked cigarettes. Lucy was in another part of the house. According to Doctor Fishbaugh:
I received a call at the Hollywood Playhouse from my maid at 10:30p.m. and was told to go to the Doheny home immediately. Upon my arrival there, one of the watchmen, whose name I do not know, let me in the house … As I entered, Mrs. Doheny was standing in the middle hallway approximately eight feet back from the door and greeted me. She said her husband was in a guestroom on the first floor, to the left of the hall leading from the front entrance. Both Mrs. Doheny and I started down the hall, side by side. A door, which partitions the hall, was slightly ajar, and I saw Plunkett walking toward it. ‘You stay out of here,’ he shouted at me and slammed the door shut. I then heard a shot. ‘You go back,’ I told Mrs. Doheny, and she returned to the living room, which was about 75 feet away from the guest room. I pushed the door open and saw Plunkett lying on his face opposite the door to the bedroom where I later found Mr. Doheny. Plunkett, to the best of my recollection, was fully clothed. The door to the bedroom was open, and when I looked in I saw Mr. Doheny lying on his back, a chair overturned between him and the bed. 13
Both men had been shot in the head and were dead. Frantic calls went out to Lucy’s brothers-in-law, to D.A. Fitts, and to the Beverly Hills police. Old E.L. Doheny was awoken at his home at Chester Place, and rushed to the scene. 14 Doheny arrived at Greystone and refused to heed the advice of family members to not go to Ned’s body:
“No, I must see Ned,” he said with a bowed head as he walked down the hall that leads from the front entrance to the chamber where his son’s body lay. “Yes, it is Ned after all. I had hoped against hope there was some mistake. “He staggered slightly, and then with a slow tread passed close to the head of his son’s murderer, who lay in the hall close to the door of the chamber and walked into the room. He gazed at his son’s body for a moment and then knelt beside it. He shook with emotion as he reached down and took young Doheny’s right hand. “Ned, my Ned,” he sobbed as he was half carried from the room. 15
Original caption reads: ‘Photo-diagram below illustrates police officers’ theory of the dual tragedy in which Theodore Plunkett killed his employer, Edward L. Doheny, Jr. and then committed suicide. According to the police theory, Plunkett held the gun at his waist and shot Doheny seated in a chair.’ | Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library
The ensuing, if brief, media storm cast Ned as a hero who had “died the finest kind of death,” trying to help a troubled friend. Many in law enforcement, including forensic investigator Leslie White, doubted the pat story of murder-suicide. 16 While photographing and processing the scene, White found a smoldering cigarette in Hugh’s fingertips, a curious thing for a man who had just killed his best friend in a fit of madness and was about to kill himself. The gun used in the murder lay under Plunkett’s body, very warm, as if someone had heated it in the oven. Dr. Fishbaugh — the main mouthpiece for the Doheny family — was caught in several lies, including withholding the fact that Ned had been alive when the doctor burst into the room, breathing although already unconscious. White also observed that it appeared that Ned had been shot at very close range, while it seemed that Hugh had not.
The city of Los Angeles was titillated by this tragedy of titans. E.L.’s private security detail guarded Greystone, determined to keep lookey-loos away. Ned’s funeral at St. Vincent’s, the beautiful church funded by E.L. and Estelle, was filled to capacity. Hundreds stood outside the Catholic Church, held back by a special detail of traffic officers. Ned was buried at Forest Lawn in the magnificent temple of Santa Sabina, which once contained the bones of an Italian Saint of the second century. A day later, Hugh was buried only a 100 feet away from Ned on Sunrise Slope. Both his brother and sister collapsed at the graveside. Lucy Doheny sent a huge floral arrangement to Plunkett’s funeral, and two of her brothers served as pallbearers.
After the huge explosion of coverage in the local papers, all reporting on the murder ceased within three days. And after promising a “sweeping investigation”, District Attorney Buron Fitts proclaimed there would be “no inquest” and officially closed the investigation. Old E.L. was eventually acquitted of his bribery charge, but his heart had been broken. Rumors of a love affair between the two men, of a cover-up and bribes, linger to this day. A reporter at the Los Angeles Times summed up the whole saga within 48-hours of the tragedy, aware that this was a story already forever muddled by power and pride:
What transpired in the bedroom of that long, rambling mansion in its woodland setting, halfway up the side of the Beverly Hills mountainside, may never be known. Both Doheny and Plunkett are dead. 17
“I never got stuck,” declared Tim Doheny. “But I dreaded it, really did. Nobody would hear you, and you would be a skeleton by the time you were found.”
— Los Angeles Times, 1985 Lucy stayed at Greystone with her five children, and life began again. She married investment dealer Leigh Battson in 1932, in front of the living room fireplace at Greystone.
Spring blossoms and American beauty roses decorated the room in which the wedding took place, and at the wedding breakfast which followed it ,the brides table was laden with white flowers, orchids, gardenias and lilies of the valley … Her gown was simply made and it was set off by a single piece of jewelry, a baguette diamond and jade pin which was a gift from the bridegroom…While the wedding breakfast was in progress, Mr. C.C .Moseley, a family friend, flew low [in a plane] over the home and dropped a bouquet from himself and Mrs. Moseley upon the spacious lawn. 18
Despite its horrific beginnings, Greystone became a happy place, filled with opulent parties, and children scurrying across the expansive grounds or spraying away with a fire extinguisher in the attic gymnasium. Lucy and Leigh were regulars on the social scene, dancing at jet set balls, and hosting real European aristocracy at Greystone. Lucy was also heavily involved with charity work, and her daughter Lucy Estelle, called “Dicky Dell,” was one of the “loveliest and most popular debutantes” of the 1930s. Her engagement, during a dinner party at Greystone in 1936, was straight out of a Noel Coward play:
Guests were informed of the betrothal when each was served a decorated plate on which was an oyster shell containing a large pearl. Under the shell was a gold card with the engraving- “The pearls of wisdom within these shells predict for Van and Dicky wedding bells.” The bride to be found in her shell a solitaire diamond engagement ring… An orchestra played for dancing, and gaiety continued until late, with other amusements afforded guests. 19
After the children were grown, Lucy and Leigh found the giant estate burdensome and too large. Lucy sold it in 1955. In 1965, Greystone was bought by the city of Beverly Hills. It became an increasingly popular filming location, so it was fitting when AFI leased it from the city from 1969 to 1982. It is now a public park, and used for private functions. It continues to be a popular filming location, and numerous movies have shot scenes there. These include “The Holiday,” “The Bodyguard,” “The Witches of Eastwick,” and fittingly, “There Will Be Blood,” based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel “Oil!,” which many say was inspired by the elder Doheny’s rise to power. Greystone is indeed a place of dreams and illusions — the sublime, the sophisticated and the just plain sad.
1 Richard Rayner, “A Bright and Guilty Place”
2 Margaret Leslie Davis, “The Dark Side of Fortune”
4 “Doctor asserts madness caused double death” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
5 “Luncheon Party” Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1914
6 “Some class to this body” Los Angeles Times, May 11, 1919
7 “Mansion’s history rich, tragic” Los Angeles Times, August 25, 1985
8 “Brother and sister collapse at Doheny’s aide’s grave” Los Angeles Times, February 21, 1929
9 “Final tributes paid to Doheny” Los Angeles Times, February 20, 1929
10 “Plunkett rose from tire job” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
11 “Doctor asserts madness caused double death” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
12 “Doheny murder inquiry discloses controversy” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
15 “No inquest on Doheny” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1929
16 “Doheny lauded for friend aid” Los Angeles Times February 18, 1929
17 “Doheny murder inquiry discloses controversy” Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1929
18 “Mrs E.L. Doheny Jr., reweds” Los Angeles Times, February 19, 1932
19 “Spinsters engagement announced” Los Angeles Times, December 17, 1936
The final day of LCDQ certainly inspired all of us to keep the fight going….I was looking forward to some of my favorite showrooms hosting events and taking in all the incredible sources that LCDQ has to offer. The new showroom of Hollywood at Home is a feast for the eyes. Peter Dunham’s gorgeous space makes shopping an absolute delight. We were greeted by the new fabric collaboration of adorable Amy Meier and Peter Fasano. The first lecture of the day included LA designers Jamie Bush, Nickey/Kehoe, Amy Meier and Christos Prevezanos discussing creating custom fabrics for their projects with particular reference to Peter Fasano. The always entertaining Robert Leleux, editor in chief of Domino, led a lively conversation with his usual panache.
The front of the showroom houses fabrics lines organized by designer and the back contains one of the chicest special event spaces I have ever seen.
One of the most highly anticipated keynotes was “The Art of Authenticity” sponsored by Milieu at the sublime showroom McKinnon and Harris. Interiors editor Leslie Newsom Rascoe and renowned interior designers Nicky Haslam and Nathan Turner discussed the definition of enduring interiors in the context of short lived nature of decorating and why some spaces transcend time.
The boisterous banter between these three was highly entertaining. Leslie cleverly dubbed the presentation “The Nick and Nate Show” and the two designers shared their advice and even entertaining tips with the group. Nathan compared the role of a designer as that of a captain and the importance of maintaining control of the ship. Nicky elaborated to never compromise your own design aesthetic because that is why the clients hire you in the first place. He also gave his secret to a great party, “Too much to drink and chocolate pudding.”
Equally as entertaining was Nathan’s precious chocolate lab Nacho, who he referred to as an “attention hound.” Nacho charmed the crowd with his personality and even had the last bark at the end of the presentation.
Next, a picnic lunch at Woven Accents complete with Moroccan rugs in lieu of picnic blankets and dueling DJs to entertain the crowd.
Ginna Christensen, Denise McGaha, Tami Ramsay, Jennifer Mehitidash
After lunch, the next keynote was “Entertaining:The Home as a Social Stage” sponsored by California Homes at the Janet Yonaty showroom. Susan McFadden, editor of California Homes led a panel with Kathryn Ireland, Lulu Powers and Russ Diamond and how contemporary entertaining styles have changed including the extinction or comeback of the formal dining room, chef inspired kitchens and indoor outdoor entertaining.
That afternoon, a flurry of book signings took place along Melrose and La Cienega. Windsor Smith, the Brentwood based design powerhouse, hosted a meet and greet to unveil her new collection at Arteriors.
Mecox Gardens hosted a group signing including design icon Charlotte Moss (Garden Inspirations), Jane Scott Hodges (Linens for Every Room and Occasion), Justina Blakeney (The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes) and Anthony Iannaci (Design in the Hamptons)
The final keynote of the day featured some of my all time favorite design talents. Hosted by the Claremont showroom, “Chasing the Muse” featured designers Celerie Kemble, Schuyler Samperton and Hutton Wilkinson and was brilliantly moderated by Stylebeat founder Marisa Marcontonio. Using the 2015 LEGENDS theme of “Where Muses Dwell,” the designers discussed where they go to find find inspiration and if modern day muses still exist.
Lindsay Fleege, Holly Phillips, Julia Buckingham, Me. Elle Toler, Rafi and Josh of Form LA, Tami Ramsay at Harbinger
Joe Lucas of Harbinger certainly knows how to throw a party especially when he combines forces with Moore & Giles and the Hearst Design Group. Harbinger is another LCDQ favorite. The showroom is always beautifully designed showcasing the latest and greatest from many bespoke fabric and furnishing lines. We always need to stop by at least twice…once to shop and once to socialize.
Holland and Sherry Rugs
Thomas Callaway Fabrics
Hearst Design Group, Harbinger and Moore & Giles Teams in front of the celebrate Moore & Giles Airstream
Jennifer of The Proper Poppy, Danielle Rollins, Paloma Contreras
The last stop on the whirlwind LEGENDS LCDQ tour was attending an intimate dinner at the home of Kathryn Ireland. This was certainly a “pinch me” moment because I have long admired her Santa Monica home and hilarious personality. Every single space from the outdoor seating areas to the guest house to the cozy nooks in the main house made you want to linger all night. Chateau Domingue hosted a stunning alfresco evening complete with craft margaritas, a mariachi band, and an amazing Mexican feast.
And to cap off a perfect night, we had a the chance to meet a favorite character from Million Dollar Decorators, Jacqueline, Kathryn Ireland’s chic confidante and right hand!
Photography by JL Photography unless otherwise noted.
“Where Muses Dwell” was the theme of this year’s highly anticipated LEGENDS windows. 67 designers were invited to present the person, place, era or object that is their muse (or source of inspiration) in the windows of the LCDQ storefronts. For the first time, a contest was held to vote of the best window in three categories. When looking at the windows, I considered the following criteria…the uniqueness of the idea, the execution of the concept, and the overall aesthetics of the space. The window designers outdid themselves in terms of creativity and originality. The competition was heated with even Kris Kardashian Jenner joining in promoting her favorite designer on social media. A special thank you to all of my friends who rallied the troops to vote! All of the windows can be viewed by clicking here.
Here are the winners and several other windows that caught my eye…
This time next week I will be headed west for my favorite design event of the year, LCDQ’s LEGENDS. The star studded line up includes so many amazing design icons. VIP Passes are sold out, but a few seats still remain at the Keynote Events. Don’t miss out on your chance to brush elbows with design royalty. See the schedule below and click here to make your reservations.
I am delighted to be an ambassador for this year’s LEGENDS event with all of these inspiring minds…Be sure to follow along on our design adventures next week!
Will Taylor of Bright Bazaar / London
Marisa Marcantonio of Stylebeat / New York
Paloma Contreras of La Dolce Vita / Houston
Holly Hollingsworth Phillips of The English Room / Charlotte, NC
Jennifer Boles of The Peak of Chic / Atlanta
Diane Dorrans Saeks of The Style Saloniste / San Francisco
Jeanne Chung of Cozy•Stylish•Chic / Los Angeles
Catherine M. Austin of Bespoke Banter / Charlotte, NC
Julie Carlson of Remodelista / San Francisco
Mark your calendar for the most highly anticipated design event this spring….La Cienega Design Quarter’s LEGENDS, a 3-day extravaganza of keynote speakers, cocktail parties, open houses, exhibitions and networking with the top design editors, writers and bloggers from throughout the country. After experiencing LEGENDS for the first time last spring, I knew I had to make it an annual creative pilgrimage! I am thrilled to an ambassador for this year’s event and look forward to sharing coverage of all of the events in just a few short weeks.
Now in its seventh consecutive year, the event has attracted over 60,000 guests and all funds raised go towards Habitat for Humanity and the La Cienega Design Quarter Beautification Fund. The LCDQ was established in 2008 to promote the flourishing antiques and design community in one of Los Angeles’ oldest thoroughfares. Since the 1950s, it has been a shopping hot spot for designers such as William Haines, Else de Wolfe, Tony Duquette and Frances Elkins.
Don’t miss the video below which captures the essence of LEGENDS in sunny Los Angeles…
Sixty-seven talented designers from around the country will transform the windows of the LCDQ member shops, showrooms and galleries on the theme of Where Muses Dwell. The designers have been asked to present to the design aficionados who throng the LCDQ during LEGENDS where their muse dwells. The designers have been asked to bring their muses to life and show guests WHO, WHAT, WHEN or WHERE inspires them most.
1) A spirit or source that inspires an artist
2) Greek Mythology. any of the Muses
a) the spirit that is thought to inspire a poet or other artist; source of genius or inspiration
b) Now Rare, a poet
I asked some of my favorite design muses what made the LEGENDS event so special….enjoy!
“LCDQ is a unique event that unifies the design community. It seems all facets of our industry participate, from shop owners, to decorators,magazine editors and bloggers. It makes it all the more fun!”
“I love LCDQ because it’s an event that it brings together the design community like no other. There is a sense of inclusiveness unique to LCDQ. Interior designers, showroom owners, magazine editors and design enthusiasts mingle, learn and share in the joy of design. To quote Patrick Dragonette, it’s like spring break for the design community! It’s positive,fun with a “design for all” ethos.”
“I am always excited for this time of year, spring and the LCDQ Legends event! The opportunity to meet so many talented people associated with the design industry. Our lives are so busy day to day, it is a delight to share ideas, see old friends, and make new ones. I am looking forward to another year of incredible windows, great talks, and happy gatherings!”
“LCDQ is engaging, experientail,intimate and exceptional. We love to meet and greet with new friends and old, hear terrific speakers, and persue la Cinega’s wonderful design outposts. All of this in LA’s heavenly weather.”
“Legends of La Cienega has become one of the premier design events in the country. As a designer, it is absolutely THE place to be! Los Angeles has become a major destination for designers. Its vibrant culture and growing design community makes it an amazing place to draw inspiration from. Legends of La Cienega gives designers the opportunity to interact with one another and to realize how different, yet similar, the design industry is across the US. I am so looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, meet new friends, and see what’s fresh and exciting in the design world!
Alexandra Loew – Jamal’s
Amanda Richards – JD Staron – Edith Piaf
Amy Meier – Marc Phillips – My Mother’s Workroom
Annette English – Downtown – A Guiding Genius
Barondes Morris – Egg & Dart – Gustav Eiffel
Betsy Burnham – Mecox – Wild Animals
Cami Wright – Sherle Wagner – The South/ Texas
Christina Rottman – Mansour
Christopher Kennedy – Marc Phillips
Cliff Fong – Dragonette
Commune Design – Remains – Viennese Secession
Curated – Downtown
Elizabeth Dinkel – Nicky Rising – Julia Morgan
Gary Gibson – Lee Stanton –Sculptor Martin Puryear
Geoffrey de Sousa – Tufenkian
Hallworth Design – Lee Stanton – Mother Nature
Hammer & Spear – Woven Accents
Jason Oliver Nixon/Madcap Cottage – Baker
Jeff Andrews – Fuller & Roberts – Movement
Jeneration Interiors (Jennifer Dyer) – Ralph’s Antiques
John Wooden – Mansour
Julia Buckingham – The Rug Company – Slim Aarons
Kate Lester Interiors – Hollywood Sierra Kitchens – Father Time
Katie & Jason Maine – Jean de Merry
Ken Fulk – Therien – The Movie Inside My Mind
Kendall Wilkinson – George Smith – Blondie
Kerry Joyce – McKinnon & Harris
KM Nelson – Egg & Dart – Pauline de Rothschild
Konstantin Kakanias – Jasper
Kylee Shintaffer – Hollyhock
Larry Rizkowsky – The Rug Affair – Bank Vault
Laura Kirar – Baker
L’Esperance Design – Dragonette – The World of Cartier
Mark Sikes – Hollywood at Home
Matt O’Dorisio – Cote Jardin – Yves Saint Laurent
Maxime Jacquet – George Smith – Andy Warhol
Maya Williams – Marc Phillips – Women of Rock
Michelle Workman – Mehraban – Starlettes & Set Decorators of the 1940’s
Natasha Baradaran – Claremont – La Dolce Vita
Nathan Turner – Serena & Lily
Patrick Ediger – Gina Berschneider – Marie Antoinette & Thalia
Philip Gorrivan – Harbinger
Platner & Company – Stark – Rose Cumming
Ryan Saghian – Janet Yonaty – Iran
Sam Allen – Hollyhock
Scot Meacham Wood – Mehraban
Scott Mitchell – Jonas
Stephen Shutts Design – Sherle Wagner – Eden
Studio Tim Campbell – Elizabeth Eakins
Susan Cohen – JD Staron – Coco Chanel
Tag Front – Renaissance – Maria Felix
Thomas Allardyce – Janet Yonaty – Euterpe (Greek Goddess of Music)
Tim Barber – Waterworks
Timothy Corrigan – Compas – Jean Charles Moreux
Todd Nickey & Amy Kehoe – Hollywood at Home – Wes Anderson
Vance Burke – Reborn Antiques – Albert Hadley
Windsor Smith – Arteriors – Renee Perle
Young Huh – Harbinger
For coverage of last year’s LCDQ LEGENDS event, click here.
|Million Dollar Decorators
via JL Photography
|via JL Photography|
The panel was held at the Dragonette Ltd. showroom. Patrick Dragonette opened his showroom in Los Angeles in 1997 nd it quickly became one of the country’s top resources for high-end mid 20th century design. Dragonette, Ltd. specializes in the work of legendary designer Billy Haines. This impeccably curated showroom was definitely a highlight of LCDQ.
featuring Brian Wilson’s painting “The Black Bear”
|“Pedra”Agate Lamps from Dragonette Private Label
with Tony Duquette Snail
|Enchanting Sterling Silver Elephant Box at Dragonette|
|Some Favorite Southern Ladies
Holly Phillips, Leslie Rascoe Newsom and Lisa Newsom
|The One and Only Tony Bucola at Veranda Lunch
Owner of Antonio’s Bella Casa
Another favorite was Antonio’s Bella Casa, owned by the charming Tony Bucola. Tony’s stunning shop features period European antiques from Italy and France paired mixed with blue chip modern and contemporary art. I literally had to pinch myself walking through his collection of amazing finds from abroad. His goal with his shop was to create a space where “the unique meets the necessary…where all the elements of European living could be brought together with the elegant flair of the Italians.”
Antonio’s Bella Casa
| Fab Faience and Rose Quartz Foo Dog
Antonio’s Bella Casa
Antonio’s Bella Casa
Next, it was off to another enlightening lecture on Elsie de Wolfe by Hutton Wilkinson. Hutton began his career in the architectural offices of his father and grandfather. At the age of eighteen, he went to apprentice for the great American design icon,Tony Duquette. Hutton is the Owner, Creative Director, and President of Tony Duquette, Inc. as well as President of the Elsie de Wolfe Foundation.
Katie Ridder wallpaper, Coleen and Co. Lantern.
Our day could not have been any more incredible until we entered Harbinger, which now tops my resource list for all things fabulous! Holly Phillips had raved about her friends Parrish Chilcoat and Joe Lucas who own the showroom. They have assembled an amazing array of artists, fabric, accessory and furniture lines that include Katie Ridder, Ferrick Mason, Coleen and Company, Holland and Sherry, Bunny Williams Home, and Hillary Thomas just to name a few.
|Peonies at Harbinger|
|Beautifully Dressed Bed at Harbinger
in Front of a Favorite Wallpaper
|Another Colorful Vignette at Harbinger
Colleen and Co. Lighting, Art by Alex Mason
|By Alex Mason|
|Holland & Sherry Appliques|
In addition to being super talented interior designers, Parrish and Joe also know how to throw a party! They converted their back parking lot into a chic outdoor fete with a quintessential west coast vibe. Moore & Giles also sponsored the event bringing their restored Airstream with them filled with their luxury leathers and small batch bourbon bar. The company was founded in 1933 in Lynchburg, Virginia to create innovative leathers for the high end interiors market. In 2007, they introduced their line of luxury bags and accessories.
|via Moore & Giles|
|Bourbon Bar courtesy of Moore & Giles|
|Moore & Giles Airstream|
The Veranda finale party was held at the gorgeous new showroom of McKinnon and Harris. Understated elegance and exquisite craftsmanship define this brand. Based in Richmond, Virginia, this family owned company is committed to crafting furniture of exacting standards and timeless design. The white and green palette for the evening was translated into all the details, from the floral decor to the food. The whole evening was a work of art.
|Fantastical Floral Headdresses|
|White and Green Vignette|
|Supper at The Sunset Terrace|
|Almost reaching the summit with Julia Buckingham Edelmann|
|Kate Kelly Smith|
The pillar of wisdom can be summed up in the serenity prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” By listening to our inner wisdom, it helps us to reconnect to our creativity and and intuition.
|Elle Decor Lunch in the Comaps Courtyard|
After our delightful morning, we were off to experience La Cienega. Elle Decor sponsored an event hosted by editor Micheal Boodro at the gorgeous Compas showroom.
|Fig & Olive|
|The charming and dapper Nathan Turner|
|Jane Scott Hodges with Martyn Lawrence Bullard|
|Dinner at The Little Door|
We could not have asked for a better day to exemplify the pillars Arianna Huffington writes about in her book. We began the day focusing on our well being, then experienced wisdom from Kate Kelly Smith, wonder at the sites of LCDQ and Ennis House, and an inspiring example of giving from Ron Burkle and the legacy he has left for Los Angeles.
|Nightcaps at The Sunset Tower Hotel|