Spotlight on kathleen campbell

kathleen campbell standing in front of her grandmother’s house built in 1912

Each month, we spotlight a volunteer, staff member, docent, donor, or sponsor of the Virginia Robinson Gardens (VRG) — those that have made an impact on the organization. We want to let you know about these wonderful people and corporations that give so much to The Virginia Robinson Gardens and to the community, and what they do that is so impactful.

This month, we spotlight kathleen campbell, a wonderful docent and Friend at The Virginia Robinson Gardens. She is always a great hostess for Garden Tour and volunteers at many historical places.

1. How did you first learn about VRG, and what inspired you to become a docent and a Friend? 

I belong to a foodie group, Pleasure Palate, and my pal, Robert Hemedes, organizes outings with his restaurant selections. In 2010, the outing was to VRG. I had never heard of this place before. I looked it up. It wasn’t too far from me and sounded like the sort of early LA place I like knowing about. I called and spoke with Jesse about the volunteer program. As it happened, there was a docent training coming up shortly, and I attended. I was hooked as soon as I entered the gates. Virginia & Harry’s story was magic. Their personalities are still palpable to me

2. What is your role – how do you contribute to VRG? 

I’m a storyteller and I pass along the Robinsons’ story to every visitor. Beverly Hills is known all over the world. People don’t realize that it was once an overgrazed, inhospitable, hillside desert. Harry & Virginia were instrumental in it becoming the home of “swimmin’ pools, movie stars.”

I also do odd jobs that need doing, but there’s no one with the time to do them.

3. Can you please share a favorite VRG memory with us?

Harry the cat. I don’t think many cats lived here when the Robinsons did, but they had a lot of pets. It was serendipitous when Harry & his brother showed up. While his bro did not get much time at VRG, Harry was always a joy to see.

And, at Garden Tour one year, I met someone whose grandmother used to play bridge with Virginia regularly.  We meet up every year for the Tour now. 

4. Please add any additional information you would like to share!

I’ve given tours since 2008 at Hollyhock House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Aline Barnsdall, who donated it to the City of Los Angeles in 1927. Incidentally, this house was saved from the wrecking ball in 1946 by a friend of Virginia’s, Dorothy Clune-Murray. I also give tours of the Biltmore Hotel in DTLA & occasionally Angelino Heights for the Los Angeles Conservancy. In addition, I was a docent for many years for the West Adams Heritage for both their Spring Tours and their Holiday Progressive Dinners. Sadly, neither has been revived since the pandemic. I’ve also done tours for both Pasadena Heritage & Glendale Historic Society. And I’m a long-time member of the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation.

Alison Martino and me near the kitchen gate at the El Nido dinner
At the Doheny Mansion, waiting for the tour to begin

5 Responses

  1. Joan Selwyn
    | Reply

    Kathleen is a wonderful addition to the Robinson Garden team. Her knowledge of history is significant and here willingness to help with whatever needs to be done is very much appreciated.

  2. Clare Wagner
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    Kathleen is a wonderful person, so willing to do anything that needs to be done and always with a smile on her face. She’s the best!

  3. Kerstin Royce
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    Kathleen forgot to mentioned that she also volunteers for the Children’s Science Outreach Program. Her help is very much appreciated.

  4. Patti Reinstein
    | Reply

    Kathleen has always been there for us no matter what we have needed . She is a valuable and integral part of what keeps us moving forward at VRG. Thank you, Kathleen

  5. Elaine Stein
    | Reply

    Kathleen is a very special person, warm and inviting and shes a great help! Im so happy to have Kathleen at VRG

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