Celebrating HALS…Three Years and 30 Volunteers

On a beautiful, warm, and sunny Saturday, November 11, 2023, a celebratory brunch was held in our Pool Pavilion to honor the team whose dedication led to the completion of the HALS project at The Virginia Robinson Gardens. Nearly all of us have heard the term “HALS” talked about over the past couple of years, but very few of us really understood what it was all about. HALS is an acronym that stands for Historic American Landscapes Survey.  During the last few decades, the concept of historic preservation has expanded from beyond preserving a single building or urban district to including the historic landscape that provides the setting and context for the property to show the heritage of our nation’s development.

With the award-winning project finished and the documentation now available in the US Archives of the Library of Congress, it was time to gather together and celebrate a job well done. Participants were able to see the fruits of their labor on large posterboards set up in the Billiard Room. Scaled, keyed, detailed and graphic colored maps of the property documented elevations and identification of both hardscape and vegetation. Photographs from the archive of Virginia and Harry were interspersed with comprehensive interpretative watercolor drawings. This project earned the coveted Preservation Design Award for Cultural Research Studies for the HALS group given by the California Preservation Foundation. In addition, the Summer 2023 edition of Eden Magazine, written and edited by historian Steven Keylon, was dedicated entirely to the survey at The Virginia Robinson Gardens.  

Now it was time to relax, mingle, and bask in the glory of their teamwork.

After a surprise cancellation by a caterer, Betty Rodriguez Goldstein and Elaine Stein were able to prepare a beautiful, hearty, and delicious feast for all. In addition to Betty’s French toast casserole with maple syrup, Elaine prepared homemade blintzes and fresh blueberry sauce. There were amazing fruit trays, a ham & cheese as well as a vegetarian quiche, potato pancakes with salmon and crème fraiche, croissants, a chopped salad, and the amazing chocolate chip cookies from the Ivy. There was such joy in their reunion, that time just flew by, and guests lingered for hours discussing the project that brought them all together. 

President Lynn Whitaker led us in a champagne toast to the masterful work done by this HALS professional group of volunteers. They were presented with a Proclamation from the County of Los Angeles. The HALS project was a dream come to fruition for past President Betty Goldstein and the Founder of the Friends Joan Selwyn, who strongly supported the HALS team, led by respected landscape architects and Friends Lisa Gimmy and Alison Terry. Thanks was also given to Patty Elias, archive coordinator, who provided photos, documents, and correspondence and who worked closely with historian Steven Keylon to provide accurate historical materials. These provided invaluable information to the group that would require thousands of hours of fieldwork, research, and preparation of documents done by noted professionals who generously volunteered their hours.

Our deepest gratitude goes to those working with the HALS team…a step into the future by understanding the past…one step closer to Museum Accreditation.

Co-Lead Coordinators – Alison Terry, ASLA, HALS Liaison, Honorary FRG Member; Lisa Gimmy ASLA, FRG Member

Architectural Historical Writer, Editor, and Eden Publisher – Steven Keylon

Architectural Historian – Kelly Comras, FASLA

Hardscape Documentation – David Dahlke, ASLA

Overall Project Organization – Cal Walsten, ASLA; Elaine Walsten, ASLA

Plant Documentation – Nicole Volpe, ASLA

On-Site Plant Identification – Linda Endler, ASLA; Alison Terry ASLA, HALS

Renderings and Garden Evolution – Lisa Gimmy, ASLA; Jin McFarland, ASLA

Hardscape Drawings – Baxter Miller, FASLA; Rogelio Nunez, ASLA

CAD Designer – Patrick Hoesterey

Large Format Photographer – Dennis Hill, Content Creation

Watercolor Artist – Martin Bruinsma

Student Intern for Site Documentation, Archive Coordinator – Katie Owens, Cal Poly Pomona

VRG Chronology – Libby Simon

Friends of Robinson Garden – Betty Rodriguez Goldstein, Past President; Patty Elias, Archive Coordinator; Tim Lindsay, Superintendent Emeritus of The Virginia Robinson Gardens; Robert Anderson, Author, Beverly Hills: The First 100 Years; Kathleen Campbell, Docent VRG

HALS Training – Janet Gracyk, ASLA

Consultants – Greg Applegate, Arborist; Mitchell Lam, Landscape Designer

One last serendipity…while doing research for the HALS project, Steven Keylon discovered that he is an eighth cousin to Virginia Robinson!

Post by Patti Reinstein
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member
Photos by Elaine Stein

Friends of Robinson Gardens Executive Board Member

3 Responses

  1. Clare Wagner
    | Reply

    Great article and photos. Gee Betty and Elaine, any chance you’ll go into the catering business. Lunch looked yummy.

  2. Susan Lindsey Cohen
    | Reply

    Congratulations on an important job so well done. Thanks to all.

    • Desiree J Camarillo
      | Reply

      The food looks delicious. Aunt Betty, your pretty as always!

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