Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Gem in my Own Backyard

Last weekend I went for a bike ride with a friend where we stumbled upon the Marion Davies guest house, still standing in Santa Monica. Marion Davies was the silent movie star and mistress to William Randolph Hearst.

From Wikimapia: (Wikipedia is down for the day protesting SOPA and PIPA!)
William Randolph Hearst might have been the first media mogul of the 20th Century. In his day, Hearst owned 28 major newspapers and 18 magazines, as well as radio stations and movie companies. Santa Monica’s Gold Coast was so desirable that in 1929, Hearst, one of the richest and most powerful men in America, commissioned Julia Morgan (the architect of the Hearst Castle) to fashion an estate on 4.91-acres of beachfront property for his mistress, actress Marion Davies.

Morgan created a three-story, 34-bedroom Georgian mansion on the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica. It was accompanied by three guest houses, two swimming pools, tennis courts and dog kennels. Called "Ocean House" or "The Beach House," it was the grandest property in the neighborhood. Rumor has it the cost was $7 million dollars.
The mansion is long gone (The Sand and Sea club stood in its place for years, and now the Annenberg Beach House is there) but one of the guest houses remains. My friend and I entered the home and were met by a docent who imparted tons of information on the home, the couple, the architecture and Santa Monica geography.
It was a fascinating tour, replete with photos, original architecture, even original tiles. Next door, at the Annenberg Beach House is the original pool, also with original tiling.
I love being able to stumble onto Hollywood history.

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