Early 20th century newspaper publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst spared no expense when it came to providing for his mistress, actress Marion Davies. Most memorably, Hearst built Davies an estate with five elaborately decorated buildings on the “Gold Coast” of Santa Monica Beach, a moniker it earned in the 1930s for its row of lavish houses and clubs.
The North House of Davies’ estate, a seven-bedroom guest house designed in the Georgian architectural style by California architect Julie Morgan in 1929, was designated a historic landmark by the City of Santa Monica in 1980.
The history of the estate will be the subject of a lecture by Marc Wanamaker on the history of the estate, coinciding with a photo exhibit, Marion Davies Estate Sunday, January 8th, at the Santa Monica Historical Society Museum, 1539 Euclid St., Santa Monica. A 2 p.m. reception is followed by the lecture at 2:30 p.m. Admission is free.
The photography exhibit will remain on display until Friday, March 31st.
Many considered the Davies estate to be the most grand example of the Gold Coast’s luxurious excess.
Davies began her acting career on Broadway and her first film was Runaway Romany, which she starred in at the age of 20. Hearst’s infatuation with the much younger Davies made it no surprise that she became the most promoted actress through William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper empire, and during the 1920s she appeared in 29 films.
In the early 1920s, she and Hearst moved their company, Cosmopolitan Productions, to California.
The Santa Monica Historical Society Museum exhibit features historical photographs from the Bison Archives of Marion Davies, her estate’s five elaborately decorated buildings, landscaping and the swimming pool.
In his lecture, Wanamaker, founder of Bison Archives and professional consultant on motion pictures, will discuss the history of Marion Davies and the glamourous lifestyle at the estate.
The City of Santa Monica is currently in the process of revitalizing the site of the Marion Davies estate, which is now referred to as 415 PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). The site is approximately 750 feet long and its proximity to the property line of Santa Monica State Beach is approximately 290 feet.
A gift from the philanthropist group the Annenberg Foundation has made it possible to preserve the location as a public beach facility.
The City of Santa Monica’s director of Community and Cultural Services, Barbara Stinchfield and Department of Cultural Affairs manager Jessica Cusick will be on hand along with John Berley of Fred Fisher and Partners to provide an overview and discuss the ways renovators plan to make the history of the site “come alive” in the new project.
The Santa Monica Historical Society Museum collects and preserves Santa Monica history.
Information, (310) 395-2290.