Timothy Lindsay’s 20th Anniversary Celebration at Virginia Robinson Gardens

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The Friends were very proud to honor Superintendent Timothy Lindsay for his extraordinary service of 20 years and invaluable contributions to Virginia Robinson Gardens at a luncheon at the Gardens. Beautifully co-chaired by past Presidents of the Friends Debra Shaw and Kathleen Toppino, the moving ceremony was well attended by Friends founder Joan Selwyn, 13 past Presidents and 78 guests in all.

Maralee Beck gave many warm accolades, explaining why “Tim is so very special to all of us…We won the lottery when Tim was assigned to the Virginia Robinson Gardens, after having worked for 7 ½ years as Assistant Superintendent at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.” Hailing from Illinois, he holds multiple degrees in forestry, plant and soil sciences, county and business administration, and has taught and published several articles and books. With his knowledge of antiques and architecture, Tim is the perfect person to restore “this fabled estate to its period of significance which is the 1950s when Virginia dominated the scene as the First Lady of Beverly Hills,” she added.  He was awarded the Atttingham Summer School Scholarship Award in England, generously donated by Maggie and David Gordon where he further honed his restoration and preservation skills. As a token of the Friends’ appreciation, Maralee presented Tim with a gift of a one week Flyaway to Palm Springs in a private plane, generously donated and piloted by dear member Janice Jerde and her fiancé Peter del Rosso.

Tim then said he was very humbled by this honor after working two decades at an estate that he has grown to love. Tim was invited by Virginia’s last major domo Ivo Hadjiev for a consultation in the spring of 1996, as the estate had fallen into disrepair.  Immediately seized by a powerful sense of connection, Tim was enthralled by the neoclassical architecture and its rich social history with echoes of old Hollywood and grand parties of the past. It was also the start of an incredible friendship with Ivo, a man of great integrity, and an education about the “art of living.”

The Friends were getting ready for their annual Garden Tour and needed help to prepare the Gardens. As Tim started to work with the Friends, he was impressed with their level of interest and commitment to restore the estate while expanding the number and types of public programs. At the time, there was no heat or air conditioning, all the roofs leaked, and the electricity had started to fail. The curtains and furniture in the house were in dire need of repair. The original design of the gardens was hardly detectable in some areas, and none of the water features worked.

Like a detective, Tim looked for clues to bring the garden back to its former glory. Working with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s office, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the County Department of Public Works and the State Department of the Interior, Tim remarked, “I was immediately indoctrinated into the world of politics!” Under Tim’s dedicated and outstanding leadership, the retaining wall was built, the gardens were restored, the building was re-roofed, and the furniture and the curtains in the house were restored (with the help of Scalamandre in New York that had the original textile selections in its archive). The Palladian blue doors in the Pool Pavilion were also restored, to mention only a few of the countless projects completed.

Tim ascertained that this “level of cooperation between a nonprofit, the Friends and the County is rare if not unique.” On a historic note, Ronald and Nancy Reagan used to visit Mrs. Robinson frequently. Impressively, in our archives, we have a letter from President Ronald Reagan, written on stationery from the Oval Office that states: “This collaboration between the private and public sector is exemplary and should be carried out to protect our national treasures across this great land.”

Under Tim’s tenure, public hours has been increased by 33% after a decade long fight to expand the EIR, the document that regulates public access. The Gardens are now open six days a week instead of four.  The Friends Programming has increased 75%. The Children’s Program has helped educate over 2,000 children, and over 3,000 visitors a year have taken the informative and entertaining public tours. Tim said that he had the great privilege of working with 13 presidents and thanked everyone for their continued commitment and contributions to the restoration and operation of Virginia Robinson Gardens.  He concluded by saying, “I will fondly remember this day… and my hat is off to all of you for making my job so incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.

President Marian Power then thanked Tim for his magnificent and knowledgeable work in restoring our beloved Robinson Gardens. For our annual Restoration Pledge Drive, Tim chose the world class King Palm Forest, which needs a new irrigation system and fresh underplantings. The total cost is $120,000, and the fundraising goal for this year is $60,000. We are within 69% of this year’s goal with about $18,000 left to go. Marian added that we would be extremely grateful for any donation, and we hope to reach this goal by February 21st, 2018 which will mark the end of Tim’s 20th anniversary year at the Gardens.  As a thank you to those who have donated, there will be a special celebration once the Palm Forest is restored.

Here is a partial list of restoration projects completed under Tim’s tenure:

  1. Restoration, repair and replacement of retaining walls in the garden
  2. Restoration of brick pathway in ITG
  3. Roof replacement on all buildings
  4. Restoration of antique Persian carpets
  5. Rewired Main House and Pool Pavilion
  6. Re-created all textiles for draperies and fabricated new draperies for entire estate
  7. Main house Kitchen restoration
  8. Master bedroom and bath restoration
  9. Italian terrace water feature restoration project
  10. Installation of outdoor lighting in Great lawn area
  11. Pool Pavilion bathroom restoration
  12. Hand painted stenciled ceiling restoration in the Solarium
  13. Card room Restoration
  14. Display Rose garden restoration
  15. Italian Terrace Garden planting restoration
  16. Cove Way Maintenance Garage replacement
  17. Swimming Pool Restoration
  18. Electrical upgrade and addition of air-condition and museum quality furnace system
  19. Orchid House Restoration
  20. Tennis court storage area addition
  21. Restoration of House window shutters
  22. Restoration of Great Lawn
  23. Seamstress room restoration
  24. Sewer line replacement
  25. Restoration of the grandfather clocks
  26. Restored paint colors in all rooms of Main house
  27. Restored exterior color of both Main house and Pool Pavilion
  28. Replaced natural gas line
  29. Restored the Terrazzo Plaza at the front of the Main House
  30. Adaptive reuse of the guest bedrooms in the Pool Pavilion

To read Tim’s speech in its entirety, CLICK HERE.

Post by Linda Meadows
Photos by Diane Jenkins
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board members

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