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Doheny Mansion curator MaryAnn Bonino '61, far left, signs copies of her new book, "The Doheny Mansion: A Biography of a Home" during an Oct. 18 celebration of Mrs. Doheny's legacy at the mansion near downtown Los Angeles.

Mount Honors Mrs. Doheny, Noted Philanthropist of the 20th Century

Oct. 20, 2008 -- The Mount celebrated the legacy of philanthropist Carrie Estelle Doheny and the 110-year-old downtown Doheny Mansion, one of the city’s premier cultural monuments, at an Oct. 18 tea. The event brought together more than 100 supporters seeking to preserve the historic residence.

“We are launching a fundraising effort to support the renovations needed to preserve this historic landmark and honor Mrs. Doheny’s tradition of giving back to Los Angeles,” said Paul Craft, MSMU’s vice president of institutional advancement.

Mansion restoration efforts will first secure the exterior of the building to stop water incursion. This includes stabilizing the roof and windows, sealing the foundation, reinforcing the Pompeian’s Tiffany stained-glass dome, and re-plastering the exterior walls. The College has established the Friends of the Doheny Mansion to help raise funds for improvements.

Home to early-1900s oilman Edward L. Doheny and his family for almost 60 years, the Gothic Renaissance-style Victorian mansion was designed and built in 1898. The Dohenys frequently remodeled the mansion and added the famous Pompeian Room with iridescent Tiffany glass dome and imported Siena marble.

Mrs. Doheny, a well-known philanthropist and devoted supporter of the Roman Catholic Church, bequeathed her Chester Place estate upon her death in 1958 to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for educational purposes. Mount St. Mary’s submitted a proposal to the archdiocese to use the property to create a college campus located in the heart of the city, and was chosen to develop the land into a college campus over two other institutions.

The Mount began an associate in arts degree program on the Doheny Campus in 1962. Today, the campus also includes seven graduate degree programs, an educational credential program, and the Weekend College for working adults. “This building is a part of our national heritage and we at Mount St. Mary’s are honored to be the guardians of this facet of the Doheny legacy,” said Craft, noting that in recent years the College has offered public tours of the mansion. “Thanks to Mrs. Doheny’s largess, and the wise stewardship of the College and its founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph, we have the opportunity to share this treasure with our students, the campus community, and the public.”

“The Doheny Mansion plays an integral part in the College’s educational mission,” said MSMU President Jacqueline Powers Doud. “Our students experience beauty through visits to the mansion. The College invites students into the mansion to celebrate special events that mark significant occasions in their academic lives.”

The College’s relationship with Mrs. Doheny began much earlier than the establishment of the Chester Place campus. The Mount bestowed upon her one of its first honorary degrees, presenting her with the doctor of laws for achievements in advancing the interests of Catholic education and charities in 1931. Upon her death, Mrs. Doheny's degree and personal papers became the property of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. The archivist of the archdiocese presented the honorary degree to College officials during the event for display in the mansion.

MaryAnn Bonino '61, curator of the Doheny Mansion and professor emeritus of Mount St. Mary’s, gave a talk during the event based on research she did for her new book, “The Doheny Mansion: A Biography of a Home.” Bonino spoke about Edward Doheny's role as a founder of America's petroleum age, and of Mrs. Doheny's commitment to philanthropy and maintaining the mansion. Bonino also is a musicologist and founding artistic director emeritus of The Da Camera Society, which produces the Chamber Music in Historic Sites concert series each year. The book is available for purchase through www.dacamera.org.

For more on the Friends of the Doheny Mansion, click here.

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