Visiting the Doheny Mansion

In Southern California the world Doheny pops up a lot. Doheny State Beach. Doheny Library. Doheny Drive. Why is this one word so prolific? It’s because it’s the last name of one of the key figures of Los Angeles history – Edward Doheny. The son of an Irish immigrant he found his fortune in oil and helped make the city the metropolis it is today. For the last 25 years of his life he resided in the center of it all in the, now famed, Doheny Mansion.

The Doheny Mansion is located adjacent to USC on Chester Place, a gated community of lavish homes that one by one became the property of Mr. Doheny. Today the mansion and surrounding properties form the campus of Mt. St. Mary’s University and are occasionally opened for tours.

The tours are offered every other month and require advanced reservations. They fill up quickly and I made mine well in advance. On the day of the tour we met at 10 Chester Place located next door to the mansion.

It also is the former home of the Doheny’s son, Ned. Our group of about 25 met in the living room and were given a detailed history of the family and Chester Place. The story parallel’s the rise of Los Angeles and offers a fascinating glimpse into its past.

Soon we headed next door to tour the mansion.

Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside but a glimpse of the exterior should give you a good idea of the wonders of the interior.

Built in 1899 and purchased by the Doheny’s two years later it’s filled with an eclectic mix of styles. Initially owned by an avid hunter the main room is filled with dark woods and gothic elements. Mrs. Doheny did not like this style and the other rooms are more reflective of her influence and are light and elegant. Covering only the first floor the tour ended in the Pompeian Room (you can catch a glimpse below) and clearly the best was saved for last.

The elegant Romanesque room is topped with a magnificent ombre glass rotunda filling it with light. Chamber music concerts are regularly offered here and I can only imagine how wonderful they are.

The Doheny Mansion is a beautiful structure that offers a fascinating glimpse in LA history. I’m so happy I took the time to tour it.

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