The History of Beverly Hills

The History of Beverly Hills

The official historian of Beverly Hills, and husband of past President of the Friends Jeanne Anderson, Robert S. Anderson gave a colorful lecture on this iconic city’s history. His new book Beverly Hills: The First 100 Years is beautifully illustrated with stunning vintage and color photographs of the city and its famous inhabitants. Known as Mr. Beverly Hills, Robert had a formidable great-grandmother, Margaret Anderson, who owned and operated the Hollywood Hotel.  There were 26 rooms in 1902, and in over 10 years, the hotel grew to 250 rooms. As fewer than 6 houses had been sold in Beverly Hills at that time in 1911, the developers of Beverly Hills believed they needed a hotel to attract more people to settle in the city.  Due to her success with the Hollywood Hotel, Margaret was given land by the Rodeo Land and Water Company to build the Beverly Hills Hotel. She accepted with the provision that no other hotel was to be built in Beverly Hills for 15 years.  Robert’s book also features all the subsequent luxurious hotels built in the city, starting with the Beverly Wilshire in 1928.

The Los Angeles Aqueduct, built in 1913 and characterized by Robert as “the world’s largest garden hose,” brought water from the Owens Valley  to Los Angeles, allowing for the dramatic growth and development of Southern California. Henry Huntington, who owned much land in Beverly Hills, was also instrumental in bringing electricity and transportation to this city. The city of Beverly Hills was created in 1914 with its own police force and Fire Department.  In 1923, there was a fight to annex the city of Beverly Hills to Los Angeles. However, due to the efforts of several movie stars, such as Rudolph Valentino, Harold Lloyd and Mary Pickford who exhorted others to defeat this proposition, the push for annexation was not successful.  In thanks for their efforts, a monument was built on Olympic Boulevard and Beverly Drive. Other actors also inadvertently helped develop the city. “Will Rogers, as mayor of Beverly Hills,” Robert explained, “was so loved by the whole country,” that a new post office was built in 1934 just to handle all the fan mail.

Robert also showed slides of dazzling movie theatres, such as the Fox Wilshire Theatre, built in 1930, and now exquisitely restored and renamed as the Saban Theatre. Beautiful estates such as Greystone Mansion where numerous movies have been filmed, along with photos of glamorous movies stars are also featured in this sumptuous book.

After the lecture, Robert signed his book, the proceeds of which were fully donated to and gratefully received by Robinson Gardens. Delicious hors d’oeuvres and desserts were served on tables decorated by Jeanne Anderson and Marian Power with elaborate centerpieces of roses and orchids, which complemented the glamorous theme of the lecture.

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