VIRGINIA ROBINSON GARDENS HISTORY
Born in Missouri, Virginia Catherine Dryden moved to Los Angeles in 1880, at the age of three. As fate would have it—Virginia’s family set up residence near Joseph Winchester Robinson’s home. Robinson was the chairman of the Boston Dry Goods Store which eventually became J.W. Robinson’s retail stores.
Virginia married J.W. Robinson’s heir, Harry Winchester Robinson, in 1903; afterwhich, they embarked on a three year honeymoon to Europe, India, and Kashmir. When they returned, the newlyweds commissioned Virginia’s father, Nathaniel Dryden, to design their historic mansion on a plot of beautifully sloped land, originally owned by the founder of Beverly Hills, Mr. Burton, Green. After the completion of their stylish mansion, Virginia Robinson used her green thumb to create Beverly Hills’ most engaging public site.
Harry Robinson became president in 1924 of the J.W. Robinson chain and later renamed it Robinson’s Department Store. After his passing in 1932, Virginia became chairwoman, holding the position for thirty years, until she retired at 85.
Over the years, the estate became famous for hosting some of the most lavish celebrity parties in Los Angeles with notable stars Charlie Chaplain, Mae West, Agnes Moorhead, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire to name a few. Virginia Robinson bestowed her personal paradise to the County of Los Angeles, after passing away at the age of 99 (1977) — less than two months shy of her 100th birthday.
After her passing, it was her request that her Major Domo and friend Ivo Hadjiev live on the property and assist the County in making her estate available for the public’s enjoyment. Ivo was influential in the development of the docent program providing oral history and continued to protect her legacy until his passing in 2008.
The Virginia Robinson Gardens estate is owned and operated by the County of Los Angeles – Department of Parks and Recreation. Together, with the Friends of Robinson Gardens, they maintain this historical site, and carry on the traditions and living styles of the early twentieth century.