Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Review: Sunnylands: America's Midcentury Masterpiece

For those of you who aren't familiar, Sunnylands is the home turned architectural museum in Rancho Mirage, California built by philanthropist and publisher Walter Annenburg. The house, finished in 1966 at a cost of $5 million, is the brilliant midcentury modern masterpiece of Los Angeles-based architect, A. Quincy Jones. Mr. Annenberg and his wife, Leonore, spent the winter months there entertaining Presidents, Royalty, and other noted celebrities and much of California's high-society. 

The house is a remarkable 32,000-square feet, surrounded by a mock-English country landscape in the center of the California desert. Trees, hills, ponds, waterfalls, even an artificial swamp for the birds that Mr. Annenberg watched avidly. 

Known for his "statement roofs" and designs that integrated houses into the landscape, Jones made sure that the rooms of Sunnylands had the flow and vast expansiveness of the surrounding landscape, with full glass walls, and low overhangs to shield the interiors from the outside elements while keeping them open to the beautiful gardens that surrounded them. The iconic pink pyramid roof, and walls of Mexican lava stone that became a backdrop to the more than $1 Billion in art donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art after Annenberg's Death were just two of the instantly notable features of the lavish home, arguably one of the greatest examples of modern architecture in the United States. 

The interiors were designed by William Haines and Ted Graber, who were known for decorating the Regan White House and for popularizing the Hollywood Regency style. I could take about Sunnylands for days, and how well the history of the estate is captured in the pages of Sunnylands: America's Midcentury Masterpiece, honestly, but it's best to let the photos of this magnificent modern estate do the talking from here: 

Sunnylands: America's MidCentury Masterpiece, written by Janice Lyle with foreword by Michael S. Smith captures beautiful photos of Sunnylands, and acts as a sort of historical scrapbook of the life that was lived there by the Annenberg's. Lyle, who works as the Director of Sunnylands has shared not only her knowledge of Sunnylands in this excellent book, but also her clear love and passion for the estate and the charismatic couple who built it. 

Truly philanthropic, the Annenbergs gave away more than $2 Billion in cash to programs and Universities across the United States, and in their final gracious gesture gave Sunnylands to the public to be forever enjoyed by all. If you can't get to California to tour Sunnylands, you can take a tour through the brilliant and beautiful pages of Sunnylands: America's MidCentury Masterpiece published by Vendome Press. 

Take a closer look, and pick up your copy via the Amazon link below:

In addition to this book on Sunnylands, there are others that have been published about the magnificent estate. If you'd like a closer look at those, here they are: 


  1. Fabulous!
    Artie, have you been out? The Annenberg estate is near Betty Ford Center-
    The SoCal desert is one of my fave places to visit. Last time out, Billy and I met Brent Hartmann, who was working at Phyllis Washington Antiques, aka, Maison Felice. He gave us a personal tour of the premises and it was heaven! The Washington's are extremely rich as they own Anaconda Copper amongst many other valuable properties! Palm Desert is just like Rodeo Drive only it is called El Paseo. So beautiful! Truly an oasis.

  2. You have a great skill about photo captured, Thanks .