Monday, January 21, 2013


     The angles are stunning.  The history is as well. Sunnylands, the extraordinary estate of the late Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg, awaits a first visit by President Obama.  
      (UPDATE-President Obama used Sunnylands as the
sight of a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping June  2013))
      Every President since Eisenhower has visited or worked at Sunnylands.

   Built in the mid 60's the estate captures the essence of Modern architecture and style, worthy of study. It is now administered by the Annenberg Foundation.  Less than a year ago the first public visits began.
   The visitor's center provides an overview with superb large touch screen videos and history and a good orientation film. It also features a schedule of special exhibitions.
    The setting is majestic.  
    Sunnylands is now a retreat center for issues of critical importance. 
    Tours of the home are limited to 7 people and run on a limited schedule. It is worth the ordering of tickets.
    The grounds of the visitors center are a stunning sight. The Giacometti sculpture commands focus. 
     Some come to see to the visitors center and garden.

  Those fortunate to visit the home are offered a golf cart
ride over the Annenberg's 200 acre estate near Rancho Mirage.
    You are driven to the famous front gate that welcomed  Presidents, Queen Elizabeth, other royals and countless celebrities. 

     Extraordinary art and sculpture are abundant, including this from Mexico, opposite the front door.

    Photographs are not permitted in the mansion, decorated as it was when the Annenbergs lived here.   
    Included are digitally created replicas of the multi-million dollar art collection given to a museum. The furniture and interior decor have been studied and envied by professional decorators and collectors.
   The home is a masterpiece of the modern architecture  Palm Springs is known for.  
    The display wall inside this hall holds the world's most extensive Steuben glass and crystal collection.

   11 lakes were built on the 200 acres of desert, now an oasis extradordinare'. 

   A closer look at the pool deck reveals a piece of balancing art that reminded me of a raft.
   Ronald Reagan loved the place.  He spent 18 New Year's eves here.  Photos of those parties are a treasure of show business greats mingling with world power brokers.  The first State Dinner held away from the White House was held here.  
   The Chinese Pavilion was built on the golf course to provide a place for lunch.  The Annenbergs played daily.
   Leonore Annenberg saw a marble bench while traveling and had one created for the edge of the golf course. She thought it was "too white," so a hedge was planted to block it's whiteness from being seen at the home. Her choice of color for the home was a peach or pink.
   The sand traps on the course, built on a flat and arid desert wilderness, are deep.

     Eisenhower golfed here. The Kennedys were guests as were LBJ and Lady Bird. Richard Nixon withdrew to Sunnylands after his resignation. The Fords played here. Reagan and the Bushes worked and relaxed here.  Carter and Clinton were guests and partied or strategized here. 
     Frank Sinatra was married here.  Bob Hope was here often. 
     The photos in Walter's study are a collection of the famous and powerful, from the US and abroad.  The  Christmas cards from the Queen, the Duke, or the Queen Mum are alone a stunning display.  All of this has been available to we mere mortals for less than a year.  
      Sunnylands is now a foundation providing a high calibre retreat space for the world's more challenging political, educational or communication issues.
      This New York Times link provides a fascinating background.
      The Foundations hopes that President Obama will  use the calm, peace and beauty of the estate to tackle an issue before him.  Some have suggested it would be a great setting for congressional leadership and the President to deal with fiscal issues.  Maybe the vibe of all of those who preceded him would help.
       Sunnylands is a uniquely American experience. And you can't help but be dazzled by how the Annenbergs lived, out in their desert house.
       See and learn more by linking to Sunnylands here. 
       See you down the trail.


  1. I would get lost on the way to the bathroom.
    How can you afford that mountain background?

    HaHa -w-

  2. I was totally unaware of this treasure. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  3. What an amazing place, really perfect for vacation, so maybe Pres. Obama will join the club.

  4. Great report and great pictures. No doubt Walter and Leonore wanted to give Hearst some competition and they had the bucks to do it. They left the public the sunny side of the Annenberg fortune.

  5. I take it the lady of the house was a fan of the color pink. Thats OK inside the property but I wish they would repaint that pink wall alongside Frank Sinatra street. How about olive green and a lighter shade of green or sandy brown?