Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
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Sunnylands: Storied Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage opens to public

Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
By Scarlet Cheng
Once completed in 1966, Sunnylands became a secluded retreat for luminaries who included the power elite (Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher and eight presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton) as well as Hollywood royalty (Barbara and Frank Sinatra were married there). But Sunnylands also was a home. Pictured here: A gilded bird, part of an ornate mirror frame, takes flight against the backdrop of antique wallpaper in Sunnylands’ Inwood Room, named after the Annenberg’s mansion outside of Philadelphia. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Leonore Annenberg favored pink, which accounts for the pink roof and walls. She admired how the color washed over the surrounding mountains at sunset. Here, the house and one of its pink garden retaining walls is mirrored in one of Sunnylands 11 artificial lakes. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
The estate also is surrounded by the Annenbergs’ private nine-hole golf course. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
A closeup look at a Maya-style bronze column designed by José and Tomás Chávez Morado. The column, which depicts Mexican history, was installed in 1968 in front of the house. That same year, President-elect Richard Nixon completed the formation of his Cabinet while staying at Sunnylands. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
The entrance to the house. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Front doors open to a lofty atrium with its centerpiece, the Auguste Rodin sculpture “Eve,” surrounded by pink bromeliads. She is still surrounded by sitting areas with original furniture designed by Haines and Graber in the Hollywood Regency style, as well as the Annenbergs’ fine and decorative art. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Haines’ and Graber’s upholstered chairs catch the play of desert light and shadow. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Art hung in the main sitting areas. Forbes once estimated Walter Annenberg’s wealth at $4 billion, and his collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings was world class. Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne ¿ they’re here, but in reproduction. The originals were given to the Metropolitan Museum of Art after Walter’s death, but in addition to the trove of original Haines and Graber furniture, there remains original sculpture by Jean Arp, Chinese ceramics and English silver-gilt. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Etched Steuben glass from the 1950s casts its shadow on the wall. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Leonore Annenberg decided to bring some of Philadelphia to Rancho Mirage, so she converted an indoor pool area into the Inwood Room, named after her estate in Pennsylvania. Her ornate 18th century gilt-frame mirrors, beautifully finished upholstery and antique wallpaper still grace the room. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Detail of Inwood Room side table designed by Haines and Graber. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
The study, which Walter Annenberg dubbed the Room of Memories, still has walls lined with photographs of the famous and powerful. The portrait of Walter shown here was painted by Andrew Wyeth in 1978. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Walter Annenberg was ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Nixon, which explains why one wall is given over to more than two dozen Christmas cards from the Queen Mother. More than 3,000 letters from U.S. presidents are part of the Sunnylands collection too. Other visitors included Supreme Court justices, business titans such as Bill Gates, princes and princesses, and Hollywood royalty: Jimmy Stewart, Bob and Dolores Hope, Sammy Davis Jr., Gregory Peck, Dinah Shore and Bing Crosby, among others. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Afternoon light bounces across the dining room, where a reproduction of an Edouard Vuillard painting hangs. (The original, along with the rest of the Annenbergs’ Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.) (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Haines and Graber’s dining room table and chairs. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
In addition to pink, green was a favorite color of Leonore Annenberg ¿ hence the celadon hues of the Haines and Graber hutch in the dining room. The Georg Jensen candelabra and tureen are from the 1920s and `30s. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
More Regency chic: walnut chairs upholstered in turquoise leather. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
The master suite at the southeastern corner of the house has dual his-and-hers dressing rooms and bathrooms. It’s bright and cheerful, furnished in shades of yellow with natural light pouring in from two sides. An indoor swimming pool originally adjoined the bedroom but later was turned into the Inwood Room. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
The sitting area in the master suite overlooks the desert landscape. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Outside the master bedroom, with one of the lakes and the desert mountains beyond. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times )
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Game room in the guest quarters. Originally the 25,000-square-foot main house had just one bedroom. A. Quincy Jones later designed guest houses. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
A $61.5-million renovation of Sunnylands includes the addition of a visitor center by Frederick Fisher & Partners, with its interiors decorated by Michael Smith. A new garden was designed by the Office of James Burnett. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Antique English gilt on display in the visitor center. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
“Entangled Simplicity,” a 1960 sculpture by Jean Arp. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
“L’Eternal du Printemps” (Eternal Spring), an 1885 work by Auguste Rodin. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
A reflecting pond ripples near a cactus garden in back of the new visitor center. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
“Bust of Diego on Stele III,” a 1958 bronze by Alberto Giocometti, with the San Jacinto Mountains rising in the distance. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
More of the cactus garden. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Long shadows by the swimming pool. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Agave about to bloom on the grounds. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
The house’s pink pyramidal roof. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunnylands: The storied Annenberg estate
Japanese crane sculptures in silhouette as daylight fades. Information on public tours is posted with our full article on Sunnylands.

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