The Greystone Mansion, also known as the Doheny Mansion, is a Tudor Revival mansion on a landscaped estate with distinctive formal English gardens, located in Trousdale Estates of Beverly Hills, California, United States. Greystone Mansion & Gardens is a Beverly Hills and Los Angeles treasure. Named for its sheer, gray stone walls, Greystone Mansion situated on a sprawling 18 acres, the 55-room, 46,000-square-foot historical Tudor Revival–style building.
Long an iconic location for motion picture and television shoots, Greystone has been featured in dozens of films, including The Big Lebowski, Spider-Man, Rush Hour, X-Men, The Social Network, and There Will Be Blood; TV shows like ER, Alias, and music videos like Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together”.
Completed in 1928, it was a gift from oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny to his son, Edward “Ned” Doheny, Jr. and his family. Famed architect Gordon B. Kaufmann (the man behind the Hollywood Palladium and the Hoover Dam) designed it with a style of elegant authority, including touches such as hand-carved wood in the grand entry, a steep slate roof, and huge terraces. There’s a screening room, a grand ballroom, and a servants’ wing.
The City of Beverly Hills purchased the property in 1965, and in 1971 the entire 18.3 acre site was formally dedicated as a public park. Greystone was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and in 2013 was designated Beverly Hills Local Historic Landmark No. 4.
The house and grounds are often used as locations for film and television shows. The house’s descending staircase is one of the most famous sets in Hollywood. Greystone Mansion & Gardens is a popular event site for weddings, corporate events, photo shoots, meetings and other private functions.
Greystone Mansion, and the surrounding grounds it shares its magnificent beauty with, are rich in California history. Edward Laurence Doheny, the original proprietor of the Greystone land, was born in 1856 in the small Midwestern town of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. 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.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the elder Mr. Doheny was pumping enough oil to rival only one other oilman of consequence in America, John D. Rockefeller. E.L.Doheny Sr. was one of the richest men in the world with hugely productive oil fields in the southwest and Mexico. His wealth made him a very powerful man politically, and he used that power to ingratiate himself with, and even create, national political leaders.
In 1926 Edward Laurence Doheny Sr. gave his son as a wedding gift a premium parcel of land consisting of 12.58 acres with sweeping citywide views. The Dohenys used their land in the hills now know as Truesdale, as a ìranch, a place to get away out of town, for horseback riding, hiking and other healthy outdoor activities. Construction of the palatial manor home began February 15, 1927, 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 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.
But 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 Plunket.
Lucy continued living at Greystone until 1955. 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 Estate was officially recognized as a historic landmark and was entered into the National Register of Historic Places. On January 25, 2013 the Doheny Greystone Mansion was designated Historic Landmark #4 by the City of Beverly Hills and entered into the Local Register of Historic Properties. The city leased the mansion to the American Film Institute from 1965 to 1982 for $1 per year, hoping the institute would pay for repairs and upkeep.
Greystone Mansion was designed by the renowned Southern Californian architect Gordon B. Kaufmann and was constructed by the P.J. Walker Company. The landscape architect was Paul G. Thiene who used a potpourri of Gothic and neoclassic architectural styles.
Designers scoured Europe for artisans and craftsmen, and for antiques and interiors. Greystone was huge, regal, a kind of neo-Tudor confection, it was equipped with all the luxuries any young modern family could want or need, including stables, and athletic facilities, tennis courts, gyms, swimming pools, screening room, ballroom, bowling alleys. It even had its own switchboard and telephone system.
The structure of Greystone Mansion was built of steel reinforced concrete, faced with Indiana limestone and is roofed of Welsh slate. Upon entering the Mansion, the hand railings and arch-framed stairway typify both the opulence and craftsmanship of the era and of the entire Greystone property. All of the oak banisters, balustrades and rafters were hand carved, while each of the seven chimneys was designed and crafted by a different artist.
The floors of the grand hall showcased black and white inlaid marble and an elaborate living room held a balcony where musicians often performed on special occasions. The kitchen featured a pantry built to secure a large adjoining wall safe that was used to store the family’s silver and gold services. The Mansion was built with a servant’s quarters which occupied two floors of the east wing and accommodated a live-in staff of fifteen.
There are fifty-five livable rooms within the 46,054 square feet of living space in the Mansion. While the Mansion’s bedrooms were spread throughout the second floor, the master bedroom suite was located in the west wing and featured an accompanying sitting room, two baths, a dressing room and a massage room. All the rooms with southern exposure offered a panoramic view of the Los Angeles Basin, from downtown to the beaches of Santa Monica Bay. In the north wing where the two oldest boy’s bedrooms were located, a circular staircase led into an adjacent recreation wing that contained a movie theater room, an original Brunswick bowling alley, billiard room and a hidden bar.
In pop culture
Over the decades, Greystone Mansion has been featured in numerous Hollywood movies and TV series, including classics like The Big Lebowski, Eraserhead, The Witches of Eastwick, Death Becomes Her, Batman & Robin, The Bodyguard, Dark Shadows, The Prestige, The Social Network, and X-Men. The mansion has also made appearances in TV series, including Alias and The Young and the Restless, and it also played the part of Chilton Academy in Gilmore Girls.
In Goldmember, Austin Powers’ graduation from the ‘British Intelligence Academy, 1958’ takes place at the Greystone Mansion. And while this popular flick mostly shows us the building’s exterior, it’s 2002’s Spider Man starring Tobey Maguire that gives us a tour inside the mansion — where the indoor scenes of Norman Osborn’s Gothic mansion were filmed. In Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 3 (2007), the Greystone Mansion is home to Norman Osborn, the CEO of science company Oscorp, which turns into the Green Goblin.
The historic estate served as filming location for the ‘Pasadena’ mansion in the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski, a hospital in Star Trek Into Darkness, the funeral home in Death Becomes Her, Swan’s mansion in Brian de Palma’s Phantom Of The Paradise, Abigail’s (Diane Kruger) home in National Treasure: Book of Secrets as well as Jack Nicholson’s ‘Massachusetts’ home in The Witches of Eastwick and the mansion of Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) in Christopher
Ghostbusters II also filmed here (with the estate playing the role of Gracie Mansion, which is traditionally the residence of the mayor of New York City); in Indecent Proposal, Demi Moore’s character, a real estate agent, gives Robert Redford a tour of the place; and while all outdoor scenes in The Bodyguard were famously filmed at the Beverly House, indoor shots of Whitney Houston’s house were all taken here.
Greystone is now a public park and a location for special events, including the Beverly Hills Flower & Garden Festival. It is popular as a filming location due to its beauty, manicured grounds and Beverly Hills location. Some productions contribute to its upkeep and renovation. The 2007 film There Will Be Blood, loosely based on the life of Edward Doheny via the Upton Sinclair book Oil!, renovated its two-lane bowling alley to include it in the film.
In addition to numerous events that take place there, the mansion plays host each year to Catskills West, a theater arts and drama camp run by Beverly Hills Parks and Recreation, from mid-June to early August. The camp presents a play in the pool area twice during the summer.
The mansion is also a venue for the play The Manor, by Kathrine Bates, directed by Beverly Olevin, and produced by Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills, which takes place in a various rooms. The audience is separated during the play to watch scenes in different orders. The Manor’s plot is a fictionalized account of the Doheny family, including Doheny’s involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal and his son’s murder. It has been performed every year at Greystone Mansion since 2002. Its 2020 season marked a run of 18 consecutive years, making it Los Angeles’ longest-running play.
Greystone Mansion is also the location of “The Annual Hollywood Ball,” where hundreds of celebrities gather for a grand fashion show, dinner and auction to raise money for charity. The million-dollar gathering includes live performances by leading artists. Since 2010, an annual Concours d’Elegance car show has also been held there.