Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Site Unseen

But we are looking to go see it.  The Virginia Robinson Gardens, 1008 Elden Way, Beverly Hills, CA   310-550-2087  visit@robinsongardens.org   Adults $11, seniors $6  Well within the budget.  Make note of the phone number because you have to make a reservation to visit and they have to round up a docent to lead you through it. 

To say that this house and garden set-up is obscure is understatement.  I lived in Beverly Hills for 14 years and never heard of it. 

Who were the Robinsons whose home you will be visiting?  Well!  Sit down!  His Daddy was founder and proprietor of the Robinson's department stores, a Southern California must shop store.  The first store opened in 1915 at 7th and Grand, and seven-stories were added in 1923 (clearly business was booming) and in 1934, the façade was updated to Art Deco.  The money must have been really rolling in. 

Harry Winchester Robinson married Virginia Dryden  (their families had been neighbors when the couple were toddlers) in 1903 and they promptly set sail for a three year honeymoon, visiting Europe, India and Kashmir. 

On their return they needed a house so Harry bought a piece of land that measured 4.5 acres for $7,500 in 1911 and built a $25,000 house in the Italian Bungalow style, designed by Virginia's Daddy, a professional architect..  It was said to be the first mansion in Beverly Hills. 

Harry only enjoyed some 11 years of living in the one-story, 12 room house as he died in 1932.  Virginia took over the Robinson's stores and ran the business for the next 30 years, finally retiring at age 85. (85)

The couple loved planning the gardens on their now 6.5 acre site (Harry kept buying land around them) and socializing.  She was known as The First Lady of Beverly Hills,"  my deah. 

Virginia, born in 1877, died in 1977 prior to her 100th birthday. She had lived in the house for the past 66 years.   In 1977 the house needed repairs to a leaky roof and a faulty wiring situation.  The estate didn't have enough money to do these necessary repairs, so the mansion was left to LA County, who didn't want to spend the money so they off-loaded it to the LA County Botanical Gardens. 

All of this sounds intriguing and I look forward to making an appointment to see it all at a time that would allow a leisurely lunch at Factor's Famous Deli.  The corned beef is to die for, dahlings.

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