Edward Lawrence Doheny, original proprietor of the Greystone land, was born in 1856 in the small Midwestern town of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Doheny’s wanderlust and affinity for the wilds led him westward in pursuit of gold and— soon thereafter—oil. Together with business associate Charles A. Canfield, by the 1920s Doheny would become one of largest producers of oil in the world. On March 16, 1926, Doheny senior gave a choice 12.58-acre parcel in Beverly Hills as a wedding gift to his only son, Edward “Ned” Lawrence Doheny, Jr.
Construction of a palatial manor on the site, designed by renowned Southern California architect Gordon B. Kaufmann, began February 15, 1927. Although Ned, his wife Lucy, and their five children moved into the residence in 1928, the home took three years to finally complete, at a cost of over $3 million—a phenomenal sum in real estate at the time. The extraordinary result became known, simply, as Greystone.
The mansion transferred ownership a couple of times, becoming a choice shooting location for Hollywood films under the ownership of Mr. Henry Crown, before the city of Beverly Hills purchased Greystone for $1.1 million in 1965. Portions of the distinctive home and grounds can be glimpsed in a variety of films, from Jumpin’ Jack Flash and The Fabulous Baker Boys to X-Men and Spiderman. On April 23, 1976, Greystone Estate was officially recognized as a historic landmark and was entered into the National Register of Historic Places.
The Garden & Design Showcase and subsequent Design House Tours provide a rare opportunity for the public not only to wander through one of Beverly Hills’ most cherished properties, but also to view examples of the highest caliber of interior design and meticulous approaches to landscape architecture.
Inside the mansion, professional members of the American Society of Interior Design/LA (ASID Los Angeles Chapter) and other invited celebrity designers, drawn to the unique nature of such a showcase, transform the estate in its entirety. The exquisite architectural canvas of the empty home comes alive with flavor and color via carefully placed furnishings, drapery treatments, art and accessories. This is the first year artists are not limited by a strictly 1920’s design interpretation; it will be intriguing to see what uniqueness arises in rooms styled for contemporary living but nestled in a truly classic environment.
At this time of year, it’s almost possible to hear the house stretching awake, welcoming the feel of furniture, roaming human feet and the extravagant accoutrements of an elegant home.
Photo by Mary E. Nichols.