Remember that Paul Thomas Anderson movie from 2007, There Will Be Blood? Daniel Day-Lewis played a mustachioed oil tycoon and won an academy award. Well, that movie is loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel, Oil! And, the Upton Sinclair novel, Oil!, is loosely based on a man, named Edward L. Doheny.
Doheny was a midwest boy from a small town in Wisconsin, who grew up to be one of the wealthiest men in American. It’s no wonder his life story was a source of inspiration for Sinclair; it’s wildly compelling.
Doheny and his partner were the first people to strike oil in Los Angeles. By 1920, Doheny’s Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company was one of the largest oil companies in the world. He had two children and two wives. His oldest child, a daughter, named Eileen, died when she was seven-years-old. A year after his daughter’s death, his first wife gave birth to a son, named Edward L. Doheny Jr., known affectionately as “Ned.” The couple eventually divorced and, a year later, his ex-wife died from drinking battery fluid.
Ned was set to inherit his father’s vast financial empire, which, during the early 1920s, was embroiled in an infamous political scandal that implicated both father and son. It was known as the Teapot Dome Scandal and, until Watergate, was considered the greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics.
During the years of litigation that followed the scandal, the younger Doheny is reported to have kept a low profile. He chose to focus his attention on the construction of his $3 million (roughly equivalent to $37 million today. Oh, the other half!) mansion in Beverly Hills. The home, known today as Greystone Mansion for, well, its gray stones, was completed in 1928. Doheny moved in with his wife and their five children, but his tenure as lord of the mansion was brief. On February 16th, 1929, he was found shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide perpetrated by a longtime friend, Hugh Plunket.
The home and grounds were eventually purchased by the City of Beverly Hills and dedicated as a public park and the site of a 19-million gallon subsurface water reservoir. Yep, if you have a cup of water in Beverly Hills, there’s a good chance it comes from the reservoir at Greystone.
You can’t go inside the mansion, itself. That’s reserved for special events. But you can putter about the grounds between 10am and 5pm most days. Parking is free! If you go when school is out, you might bump into some summer campers. Apologize and say excuse me.
905 Loma Vista Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Daylight Savings Time
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day,
and occasionally for filming or special events