Friday, September 12, 2014

Greystone Mansion

A couple of months ago, I read this great book called A Bright and Guilty Place by Richard Rayner. Mostly it’s about LA’s crime underworld of the 1920s and 30s. I highly recommend it. One of the stories in the book is about Greystone Mansion. Greystone was built in 1928 by oil baron E.L. Doheny, a gift for his only son, Ned. Only five months after he moved in, Ned was dead in a murder-suicide, along with his long-time friend Hugh Plunket. Both Doheny men & Plunket had been implicated in the Teapot Dome Scandal and were due to testify. The Dohenys had been pressuring Plunket to take the fall. (Officially, Plunket was the murderer in the murder-suicide but, according to the book, the physical evidence suggested otherwise.)

Curious as to what happened to Greystone in the ensuing years, I looked it up. Imagine my delight when I discovered that, after purchasing the property in 1965, the City of Beverly Hills designated it as a public park in 1971. I knew I had to swing by for a visit.

Greystone Park is located at 905 Loma Vista Drive, Beverly Hills, 90210. The grounds are open every day of the year, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or 6 p.m. during Daylight Saving Time). Admission to the park & it’s parking lot are free. The interior of the house is only available via scheduled tours, one Saturday per month from December to April. I would advise checking their calendar before planning your visit because the park is frequently closed for private events.

It's easy to find, not too far off of Sunset Blvd. I arrived about half an hour after the park opened and for most of my visit, it was just me and the groundskeeping crew there. The parking lot is above the mansion’s gardens. You stroll through the gardens as you make your way down the hill, leading you to the mansion.

At the bottom of the post, please read my special note about photography at Greystone Mansion.

The first fountain I saw.

There is great brickwork everywhere.

And also great art details like this.

My favorite fountain.

There are views everywhere, peeking through the
trees. I believe this is West LA.

And here, in the distance, you can see downtown LA.

I loved these fountains. Each one had a different
"mask" & there were probably 6-8 of them.

There were also tons of nooks and crannies like
this. So much to explore!

I thought this was stunning. The fountain "masks"
are on the left.

The lampposts reminded me of England.

I don't know what these are but I think they're really pretty.

Retaining pond on the mansion's massive balcony.

Another retaining pond. All the koi and turtles thought
I was going to feed them.

I didn't take any pictures of the mansion itself because it's  huge and I didn't think I could do it justice, but pictures are readily available at the link I provided in the first paragraph.

For the same reason, I didn't take a picture of my favorite part: the massive balcony leading off the mansion's ballroom. I can well imagine the wild parties that were held there back in the day, the balcony doors thrown open so people could easily move back and forth between it and the ballroom, the alcohol flowing freely. The views from the balcony are amazing. It's a special place.

There is a lot to like about Greystone. The gardens are beautiful; the mansion is impressive; the views are spectacular; and it's very tranquil. For a little while, I forgot that I was in LA. However, it's definitely not a park in the traditional sense. There aren’t a lot of places to sit and hang out, or at least there were very few that were shaded (and the one bench I found in the shade wasn’t terribly comfortable). No picnicking is allowed there.

I highly recommend a visit but my suggestion is that you do so if you’re already in the Beverly Hills area & have an hour or so to spare because you really don’t need more than that to explore this lovely little park (unless you’re signing up for a house tour, which is another story entirely).

Special Note About Photography: After I had taken most of my pictures, I finally noticed the signs saying, “No photography without a permit.” Granted, not all of the signs include that message and the ones that do are so cluttered with “No” this or that information that I simply didn’t notice the camera with a line drawn through it at first. I couldn’t recall seeing anything about this on their website, so I looked it up and a special section called “Filming, Permits, and Commercial Photography,” seems to imply that only commercial photography needs a permit. 

However, I’m still confused on the point. Therefore, I’m posting my pictures with the note that I am NOT a commercial photographer, nor am I profiting from these photos in any way. If, however, I am contacted by someone connected to the park in an official capacity telling me to take the photos down, I will do so immediately.


Patricia said...

Both of those retaining ponds are fabulous. And I like the stunning walkway with the masks on the left too.

I think that's the fun thing about being rich, you get nooks and crannies and differences in things. Not so cookie cutter.

balyien said...

For sure! Both Dohenys had a big hand in designing the mansion. Having the opportunity to design your own home would be amazing!