The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills with Jeff Hyland
Real estate magnate and architectural historian Jeff Hyland presented a fabulous lecture on his book Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills to the Fellows at Virginia Robinson Gardens. Legendary in his own right, Jeff is co-owner of Hilton and Hyland, and is a founding member of Christie’s International Real Estate. He has been the recipient of many awards and has been incredibly generous to and supportive of Virginia Robinson Gardens. In 2013, he received Robinson Garden’s highest honor – the “Spirit of Beverly Hills Award.” Maralee Beck enthused, “He knows so much about the history of Beverly Hills, and we named the May 20th, 2017 Garden Tour Legendary Beverly Hills after his book.”
Divided in four parts, this lavish and beautifully illustrated publication focuses on 45 mansions in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Holmby Hills and the “Gone, but not Forgotten” historic estates. In its infancy the developers of Beverly Hills envisioned three communities: the area south of Wilshire Boulevard for the less affluent residents, the area between Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards for the middle class, and the area north of Sunset for the truly rich.
Jeffrey regaled the audience with slides of magnificent mansions and gardens, built by famed architects Gordon Kaufmann, Wallace Neff and Paul Williams among others. David Geffen’s sumptuous estate, formerly that of Jack Warner’s, is featured in the book, along with one of the former homes of William Randolph Hearst. The magnificent garden in the Hearst estate features beautiful statuary and Moorish style archways. “Hearst did not want to live there with Marion Davies, as he could see his neighbors,” explained Jeffrey. The largest home in California, except for Hearst Castle in San Simeon, was Greystone, built by Gordon Kaufmann for the Doheny family in a mere 13 months!
Jeffrey also showed the home of Hobart Bosworth, a cowboy actor who rode to MGM on a horse. The home has undergone so many renovations that very little remains from the original architecture. Horseback riding and tennis used to be the main outdoor activities, and there were many signs saying Horses had Right of Way.
Jeffrey commented on another beautiful estate “that I love because it was my first introduction to Wallace Neff.” It passed through many owners, among them Jules Stein and Rupert Murdoch. Jeffrey also mentioned the enchanting Harold Lloyd estate, which was modeled after an Italian villa. Lloyd told his guests that he had an 18 hole golf course, when in reality it only possessed nine; he would take his visitors next door to Jack Warner’s estate where they could play an additional 9 holes, and Jack Warner would do the same.
Another of Jeffrey’s favorites was the magnificent estate Falcon Lair, “which I had the pleasure of selling five times,” he added. Unfortunately, the home kept shifting, and it had to be finally torn down. In addition to Mediterranean and Spanish style homes, English style estates were also built; new money from the east coast wanted to give the impression of lineage and of landed gentry.
According to Jeffrey, Virginia Robinson was related to one of the sisters of Burton Green, who was one of the original developers of Beverly Hills, and she bought her land to help promote the sale of his subdivisions.
Several signed copies of Jeffrey’s gorgeous book were sold, with 100% of the proceeds generously donated to Robinson Gardens!
Totally in keeping with the theme of the lecture, a selection of delicious open-faced sandwiches with enticing desserts from Le Pain Quotidien were served; they were arrayed on a tablecloth with a banana leaf motif that referenced the original, iconic design by Don Loper for the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Timothy Lindsay, our wonderful superintendent, gave a tour of the Gardens to the guests after the lecture. We are so grateful to our amazing Jeanne Anderson for organizing such a fabulous event for the Fellows to enjoy!
Post and Photos by
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member