California Cruizin'

Discovering the Hidden Jewels Throughout America's Golden State

Beaux Arts, Zen & A Million Words

Have you ever heard of the Huntington Library? If you lived in Southern California chances are that you have. When someone told me about this famous estate housing a library, art museum and botanical gardens, I thought it was somewhere in Huntington Beach. Quite logical, right?

I felt a bit stupid after I found out more about this sprawling property nestled along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in San Marino, an affluent community a bit west of Pasadena, 45 miles northwest of Huntington Beach.

Meet the man behind Huntington Library. Henry E. Huntington. A Southern Californian railroad and real estate mogul who was interested a great deal in books, art, and gardens.

After he married his Uncle’s widow, Arabella, the couple transformed Henry’s San Marino Ranch into what is known today as Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens. Visitors can stroll manicured lawns, IMG_7844 rest on marble benches, IMG_7826 admire Romanesque statues IMG_7822IMG_7851 and cool off in the spray of gushing fountain pools. IMG_7738

A vast European art collection is exhibited in the halls of the estate’s regal Beaux Arts mansion overlooking the Los Angeles basin. IMG_7849 IMG_7856 Amidst a sea of roses, the charming tearoom invites for tea and English scones, IMG_7839 while the Conservatory calls to those who want to learn more about the world of plants. IMG_7742

Zen can be found either entering the Japanese Garden IMG_7787 IMG_7801 IMG_7805 or the Chinese Garden IMG_7752 IMG_7758 and in the library a million words are bound into prized collection.

So, next time you visit Southern California drive up to San Marino and wander the grounds of these magnificent gardens.

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