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History of Runyon Canyon & The Pines

    ** CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS** 

History of Runyon Canyon/The Pines

In 1867, "Greek George" Caralambo, received the 160-acre parcel by federal patent in appreciation for his service in the army camel corp. Allen became famous by association when the banditTiburci Vasquez was captured while hiding out at his home in 1874.

Alfredo Solano, a prominent civil engineer and one of the founders of the LA Athletic Club, purchased the canyon a year after Vasquez was hanged. Solano owned the canyon before his widow, Ella Brooks Solano, sold the majority of the land to Carman Runyon in 1919. Runyon, having recently retired from a successful coal business came out with his new bride to enjoy the California climate. The marriage failed and Runyon moved to Hollywood where he met and married his new wife. The new Mrs. Runyon was an accomplished horsewoman  and the Runyons purchased the canyon to use for riding and hunting. They built a small bungalow near the Fuller Avenue entrance.

Runyon named the canyon before he sold the estate in 1930 to John McCormack, a famous tenor. McCormack  fell in love with the estate while filming a movie there in 1929. The film was an early "talkie" and McCormack's salary for the picture went to purchase the property and he build the mansion he called "San Patrizio", after Saint Patrick. He and his wife lived in the mansion until they returned to England in 1938. Remains of terraced gardens and buildings can still be seen above the entrance to The Pines. McCormack toured frequently and in his absence the mansion was often rented out to such celebrities. The McCormacks made many friends in Hollywood, among them was Charles E. Toberman, janet Gaynor and John Barrymore. After his farewell tour of America in 1937, the McCormacks deeded the estate back to Carman Runyon, expecting to return at a later date. World War II intervened, however, and, McCormack's health was broken by a wartime concert tour. McCormack died in 1945. Huntington Hartford, heir to the A&P Grocery fortune and patron of the arts, purchased the property in 1942, moving into the mansion and renaming the estate "The Pines". He commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd Wright to draft plans for developing the estate. These included a "cottage hotel" lower canyon and a futuristic "play resort" country club on the ridge. When neighborhood opposition to the design put the project on hold, Hartford had Lloyd Wright design and build a pool pavilion. Plans were later proposed for galleries in the canyon, but after 1955, Hartford began to spend more time in New York. In the 1940s, Hartford wrote an adaptation of "Jane Eyre" called "Master of Thornfield," which ran for two weeks in Cincinnati and starred Errol Flynn as Mr. Rochester. This partnership led to Flynn staying in the pool-house briefly in 1957-58, and is the origin of a legend that "The Pines" was Flynn's estate.

In 1964, Hartford offered the property as a gift to the city, but this was turned down.  Hartford was so angry that he sold the property at a low price to Jules Berman, who then destroyed the mansion and let the place run down." After purchasing the canyon, he razed Son Patrizio and the guest houses to avoid paying taxes on the deteriorating structures. His "Huntington Hartford Estates" development, traded on the name of its famous former owner. The project was stopped in 1978 before building could begin. The Lloyd Wright pool-house remained standing until 1972 when a fire in the canyon destroyed all but its natural stone foundations.

Runyon Canyon Park was purchased in 1984 from its last private owners, Adad Development, for use as a city park. 

One of the largest photo collections of Runyon Canyon and The Pines is hollywoodphotographs.com.

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