Sunnylands Center and Gardens was designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners in the late 2000s. It is surrounded by a nine-acre art garden planted with more than 70,000 arid-climate plants and trees. Landscape architect James Burnett said that the design was inspired by the Annenberg’s collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
Visitors to Sunnylands Center and Gardens can enjoy a variety of free public programs. The programs include guided garden walks, exhibitions, a selection of 20th century sculptures, films, and multi-media kiosks. The interior of the Center’s Great Room, with a camera-ready view of Mount St. Jacinto, was designed by Michael Smith, best known for his work decorating the residential quarters of the Obama White House. The gift shop features a selection of items related to Sunnylands. A café features light lunches, coffee, tea, and snacks.
The 15-acre Center and Gardens is the starting point for tours of the 200-acre historic estate. Tickets for tours must be purchased online.
The historic house and grounds were completed in 1966. The house was designed by A. Quincy Jones, a pioneer of midcentury modern architecture. The estate contains thousands of trees, 11 man-made lakes, a tennis court, and a nine-hole golf course designed by Dick Wilson. It was the winter residence of Walter and Leonore Annenberg.
The Annenberg’s left the historic residence – where they entertained seven U.S. presidents, British royalty, celebrities, and international leaders – in a public trust to be forever operated as a high-level retreat center devoted to international understanding and the public good. Since their passing, The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands has hosted meetings that address serious issues facing the nation and the world.
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