- If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney
Visit Greystone Mansion
Greystone Mansion, and the surrounding grounds with which it shares its magnificent beauty, are rich in California history. Edward Laurence Doheny, who bought the land in the 1910s, was born in 1856 in the small Midwestern town of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. By the time he was a young teen, Doheny’s adventuresome spirit and love of the wilderness led him to prospecting for gold and soon thereafter, oil. In 1892, Doheny and his friend Charles A. Canfield, were the first to strike oil in Los Angeles.
They later discovered large oil deposits in Mexico which, combined with their Los Angeles holdings, made them the largest producers of oil in the world at that time. Edward Doheny and his wife Carrie Louella Wilkins had two children. Their first, a daughter Eileen, passed away when she was just seven years old. On November 6, 1893, their only son, Edward “Ned” Laurence Doheny, Jr., was born and grew up as heir to one of the world’s great financial empires. Ned went on to marry Lucy Smith of Pasadena and in 1926 Edward Laurence Doheny Sr. gave his son a premium parcel of land consisting of 12.58 acres with sweeping citywide views.
Construction of the palatial manor home began February 15, 1927 and although Ned, his wife Lucy, and their five children moved into the residence in September 1928, the estate took three years to complete at a cost of over $3 million, an almost unimaginable sum in real estate at the time. The original cost to construct Greystone’s entire estate was $3,166,578.12, the mansion alone cost $1,238,378.76. The extraordinary result became known as Greystone for its abundant use of stone construction and its rather somber gray appearance. In addition to the mansion, originally located on the grounds were stables and kennels, tennis courts, a fire station, gatehouse, swimming pool and pavilion, a greenhouse, a lake, babbling brooks and cascading waterfalls.
On the night of February 16, 1929, only five months after the family had moved in, Ned Doheny was found shot to death inside the home, at the age of 35 and the victim of an apparent murder-suicide perpetrated by his longtime personal friend and aid Hugh Plunkett. Lucy continued living at Greystone until 1955, after which she and her second husband Leigh M. Battson sold the majority of the original land to the Paul Trousdale Corporation, developers of Beverly Hills’ prestigious “Trousdale Estate” homes. The following year Lucy and her husband sold for approximately $1.5 million the remaining 18.3 acre parcel, including Greystone Mansion, to Henry Crown of Chicago-based Park Grey Corporation. Mr. Crown, however, never formally occupied the site but instead leased it out as a popular filming location, a legacy Greystone still maintains today.
The City of Beverly Hills purchased the property from Mr. Crown in 1965 for approximately $1.3 million with plans to install a 19-million gallon water tank on the property as its hilltop site provided tremendous natural water pressure. This site continues to serve as the City of Beverly Hills’ largest reservoir. On September 16, 1971, the entire 18.3 acre site, including its centerpiece Greystone Mansion, was formally dedicated as a public park by the City of Beverly Hills. Five years later, on April 23, 1976, Greystone was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 2014 Greystone was designated Beverly Hills Local Historic Landmark No. 4.
The nonprofit, volunteer-based group Friends of Greystone is currently in the process of raising funds in order to establish a permanent historical display inside Greystone Mansion.