History of Greystone Mansion
Greystone Mansion or Doheny Mansion was an elaborate and lavish residence built in the late 1920s by the Doheny Family, one of the richest families in Beverly Hills. It was one of the most expensive homes constructed in California.
The mansion sits on the hillside, just above the Doheny Road on the East edge of Beverly Hills.
When it was built, it was considered as the second biggest house in California. The first largest was the Hearst’s castle located at San Simeon.
In the 1920s, the now Trousdale Estates and adjacent Doheny Drive properties that extend west and upwards into the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains belonged to the Dohenys, specifically by Edward L. Doheny Jr. He was the first person, along with his friend, Charles A. Canfield, who struck oil in LA in 1892.
Later on, they found significant oil deposits in Mexico, allowing them to be the largest producers of oil in the world during this period.
Parents of Edward Doheny Jr.
Edward Doheny, Sr. was married to Carrie Louella Wilkins. They had two children together.
But their first daughter passed away when she was only seven years old.
Later, Edward Laurence Doheny, Jr. was born on November 6, 1893. Ned, as he was popularly known, grew up as the only successor to one of the world’s greatest financial empires.
Ned married Lucy Smith from Pasadena. His father gave him a premium wedding gift — a land consisting of 12.58 acres with citywide views.
Mansion as the Dream House
In the early 1920s, Ned built his dream house, which is now known as the Greystone Mansion, on the ranch situated in the hills.
The construction of the Mansion started on February 15, 1927. But it took three years to complete it.
The overall cost of construction was reported to be more than $3 million. At that time, the amount was said to be unimaginable.
Initially, the entire cost of Greystone estate was $3, 166, 578.12. But the mansion alone cost $1,238,378.76.
During the construction of the mansion, the entire property was transformed. It was planted and replanted to give way for the stone manor with great terraces that overlooked the city. While the house was being built, Ned, his wife, and their designers looked for artisans and craftsmen in Europe.
When the Greystone Mansion was finished, it was huge and regarded as a Tudor Revival mansion.
The mansion was robust and substantial, and it was equipped with all the luxuries a modern family could want. It had tennis courts, swimming pools, ballroom, screening room, stables, and so much more. It had its own switchboard and telephone system.
At that time, it was the largest house in LA.
The later generations living in LA called it Dragonwyck, a movie that was said to have been the inspiration for building the palace.
The entire house was completed in the late summer of 1928. Ned and his wife moved in the autumn of 1928.
But, five months after the family moved in, Ned was found dead inside the mansion. The coroner ruled it as a murder-suicide, and the primary suspect was Hugh Plunkett, Ned’s longtime friend.
After the tragedy, Ned’s wife, Lucy, continued to live at the Greystone Mansion.
In 1955, however, she and her second husband sold most of the original land to the Paul Trousdale Corporation.
Later on, Lucy sold the remaining land, including the Mansion, to Henry Crown of the Park Grey Corporation.
But Mr. Crown did not occupy the site, but he had it leased as a popular filming location. It’s a legacy that the mansion still maintains today.
Years after, the city of Beverly Hills acquired the property for approximately $1.3 million. The city’s original plan was to build a 19-million gallon water tank because the hilltop side offered an excellent natural water pressure. It still continues to serve as the largest reservoir of Beverly Hills.
The whole site was formally became a public park in 1971.
On April 23, 1976, the Greystone Estate was recognized officially as a historic landmark. It was also included as part of the Registry of Historic Places.
Currently, it’s owned by the City of Beverly Hills and operated through the Department of Community Services under Recreation and Parks Division.
The Designer of Greystone Mansion
The residence and its ancillary structures were designed by Architect Gordon Kaufmann, a renowned Souther Californian architect. He was also known for his work on the Los Angeles Times building and the Hoover Dam
The mansion was constructed by the P.J. Walker Company.
The landscaping, on the other hand, was done by Paul Thiene.
The mansion was made of steel and reinforced concrete. It is faced with Indiana limestone, thus, the term Greystone. Then, it’s roofed of Welch slate.
When you enter the Mansion, you can easily spot the luxury and craftsmanship of the entire property.
In the grand hall, you’ll see the black and white inlaid marble. It has an elaborate living room with a balcony where musicians perform on special occasions.
The kitchen’s pantry was built to secure a large wall where a safe was hidden. It was where the family’s silver and gold services were stored.
The Mansion has a servant’s quarters on the East Wing. The quarters occupied two floors that could lodge 15 live-in staff.
The residence has 55 rooms, and they’re housed in 46,054 square feet. The bedrooms were spread throughout the second floor.
But the master bedroom suite was in the West Wing, which featured a sitting room, two bathrooms, a dressing room and a massage room.
Each room in the South offers a panoramic view of the Los Angeles Basin.
When you go to the North part of the Mansion, you’ll find the two bedrooms made for the oldest boys of Ned. In here, you’ll also find a circular staircase that will lead to an adjacent recreation wing that has a movie theater room, a bowling alley, a hidden bar and a billiard room.
You’ll recognize some scenes in various movies that have been shot at the Greystone. Some of these films used the garden-like ground as their backdrop.
Today, the lavish style of the mansion makes it a popular venue for weddings and ceremonies with the Hollywood’s elite as the attendees.