The Valley Line: Fundraiser celebrates historic homes

I hope all you moms had a nice celebration on your special day last weekend. I certainly did. I traveled to Northern California to be with my son, Chris, and daughter, Heather, and their respective families.

It was especially joyful to once again to be with Chris’ kids. They have all just returned from their three-and-a-half year residence in England. Aidan, 11, Lucan, 9, and Morgan, 4, are happy to be back in their own home again and to see their school chums of long ago. They all have nuances of a British accent that is very charming.

I also had an opportunity to watch Heather’s budding thespian Catherine, who is 8, in the opening night of a play she is in with the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre. Her 5-year-old brother, Ryan, sat right next to me and was absolutely mesmerized to see his big sister in costume and on the stage singing and dancing.

The joys of being a grandmother are immeasurable. I thoroughly treasure every moment of it.


It has been a whirlwind of a week for the Pasadena AIDS Service Center. In fact the name of their major fundraiser was “Big Week Out.”

This week-long lifestyle event explored the beauty and uniqueness of Pasadena and surrounding areas. Approximately 20 exclusive dinner parties were hosted in some of the region’s most distinguished and historic homes.

The kickoff event was held on May 5 at the iconic and historic Greene and Greene home of Phaedra and Mark Ledbetter. The house was built in 1906 and sits on 3 1/2 lush acres of land on Grand Avenue. It is known as the Robinson House for the family name of its first owners.

The party, chaired by Mark Ogden and Boyd Smith, was an afternoon soiree of superlatives on all accounts. Nearly 500 people came to this kick-off extravaganza that included auctions, hors d’oeuvres and hosted bars. The silent auction this year was focused on travel and fine dining and contained a potpourri of tempting goodies. The live auction offered 15 exclusive luxury items that were hotly contested. A favorite bidding item that afternoon was the cutest black and white mixed-breed puppy that totally stole everyone’s heart.

Honorary chair for the kick-off gala was recording artist and actor Sam Harris. Anthony Guthmiller, director of the AIDS Service Center, who was awaiting arrivals at the gate of this impressive estate, personally welcomed every guest. It was a very nice gesture.

This wonderful party was just the warm up for the exclusive dinners to come. Each dinner setting was fabulous and ranged from a Beverly Hills Trousdale Estate, a Hollywood Hills home, a Wallace Neff home, a sexy glam party in a downtown loft, a ’70s disco-themed party and many more.

I attended an amazing dinner party held in the fabled and enchanting home of the late design icon Tony Duquette. His home, known as “Dawnridge,” is located down one of the tiny lanes in Beverly Hills. I felt like I had been transported into an exotic Balinese garden filled with beautiful plants and pavilions adorned with statuary, wooden painted elephants and imaginary creatures. Steps led to a pond filled with beautiful koi. A brightly painted Asian pagoda beckoned guests to rest on a wooden balcony that overlooked a waterfall and the pond.

There were 24 guests that gathered in this beautiful garden setting for hors d’ oeuvres and beverages before going into the house for a sumptuous dinner prepared by Peggy Dark’s Kitchen for Exploring Food.

Duquette was known as a great American artist and was highly sought after for his fantastical artwork, sculpture, jewelry, gardens, film and stage sets, costumes and interiors, and his home embodies his imagery. “More is More” was his theory, and indeed it is at Dawnridge. I could have spent days just wandering from room to room appreciating a myriad of amazing artifacts and details.

Welcoming us to Dawnridge was Duquette’s protégé and business partner Hutton Wilkinson and his lovely wife, Ruth. Dawnridge was often the site for lavish parties where the brightest of Hollywood stars gathered. Needless to say, this home has a magical quality about. It was a rarefied evening. My equally enchanting tablemate for dinner that evening was Fred Iberri, Wilkinson’s business assistant.

The grand finale of AIDS Service Center’s Big Week Out was an over-the-top party at the Beverly Park home of TV’s Real Housewifes of Beverly Hills star Adrienne Maloof. It was an entirely different kind of party held in a breath-taking mansion where appetizers and beverages were served. There was also a special live auction.

A considerable amount was raised at “Big Week Out.” All funds go toward the many programs that AIDS Service Center offers to adults, children and families who live with HIV/AIDS. They receive care free of charge.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at

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