Tea on the Huntington’s Loggia with the Secretary of the Navy (1919)

By Nancy Armitage

 The Henry E. Huntington’s Loggia at the San Marino Ranch was a romantic covered porch that served well for the Huntington’s “entertainments”. The Huntington’s ranch, called the San Marino Ranch was located in sunny Southern California. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

It was the year 1919, Mr. H. E. “Edwards” & his wife, “Belle” Arabella Huntington were the residents of a elegant mansion on the property. The ranch was just south of Pasadena; 30 minutes from downtown Los Angeles.  The effects of this Loggia with its cool terracotta tiles, & elaborate Roman columns, would have made a guest feel like they were dining alfresco in Europe. The architect of the Huntington residence, Myron Hunt, also designed the North Vista & surrounding garden areas. The North Vista was inspired by elements of the Grand Trianon at Versailles in Paris.

The Loggia was surrounded by French gardens that were reminiscent of Versailles Palace. On a summer afternoon, cool breezes infused with the scent of fragrant flowers, like jasmine & orange blossoms would flow through the Loggia. The three-sided structure showcased the magnificent view of the Huntington’s three acres of smooth green lawns. The Huntington’s Loggia was surrounded by French white marble statues like Diana, the Huntress. There were six white marble statues of nude women graced the outer edges of the Loggia between the stately columns. Several marble head portraits on tall pedestals stood on each side of the mansion door.

This is an example of a Havana “peacock” Chair. In the Mansion inventory, it stated that 2 of these chairs were once on the Huntington’s Loggia. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

The Huntington’s decorated the Loggia with plenty of chairs for their guests. For the guests to relax, they had two large Havana “peacock” wicker chairs, two wooden swings, & several elaborate cool marble benches. In the Victorian style, potted palms & flowering fragrant roses in large urn pots enhanced the surroundings. In the center of the Loggia was a large white & apricot veined marble table, used for dining & teas. Though the Loggia was considered an outside room, it really was the east extension of the Mansion. Mr. Huntington also enjoyed using the Loggia in the afternoon, when he played cards with his neighbor & good friend, Mr. George Patton Sr. 

The summer views from the loggia were incredible. Off in the distance, the Huntington Family Fruit Orchards hung heavy with juicy yellow gold peaches, purple plums, & tasty nectarines. There were acres of bright oranges on orange trees (Valencia & Navel) ready to pick. The Huntington’s could see the majestic Mount Wilson (the San Gabriel Mountains) to the north. To the east, Mount Baldy (usually covered with pure white snow in the wintertime) touched the bright blue California sky. To the south, Mr. Huntington’s massive amount of land stretched through the San Gabriel Valley. It must have thrilled Mr. Huntington to look north from the Loggia & see his creation, the Huntington Library Building. 

Mr. Hertrich, the head gardener, & the Superintendent of the Ranch was in charge of flowers for Mrs. Huntington’s “entertainments”. He made sure that the Huntingtons’ Loggia & residence was supplied with huge bouquets of fresh fragrant flowers, daily. With the help of the Huntington household staff each of their floral arrangements (each ablaze with 150-200 or more blooms). The colorful summertime flowers would have been a brilliant rainbow of yellows, oranges, pinks, reds, blues, & purples. The domestic staff of the Huntingtons cut & trimmed the fragrant flowers from “Mrs. Huntington’s flower garden” (where the Huntington Herb Garden is located now). Summer Flowers like Pink Roses, Tuberose, Hydrangeas, Evening Stock, Iris, Oriental Lilies, & large Gardenia blossoms were used.

A photo with Mr. H. E. Huntington sitting on a wicker chair on the Loggia; a huge amount of lilacs are shown behind him. He had to be so very proud of the abundance of fruit, berries, vegetables, roses, & flowers on his Ranch. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

The Huntington’s glass hot houses & their extensive Rose Garden, provided the Loggia & the residence with numerous roses. Mrs. Huntington particularly liked pink & white roses. From the San Marino Ranch papers, hundreds of fragrant French roses: “Killarney” pink rose & “Killarney “white roses, & “Mademoiselle Cecile Brunner” pink roses were purchased for the ranch gardens. There were a multitude of rose blossoms & fragrant summer white gardenias would be artfully displayed on the Loggia marble table in decorative fancy vases.  The scent of their fragrant roses would fill the late afternoon breeze to delight the Huntingtons’ guests.

A large music box located in the Huntington Coatroom, (just off the Porte Cochere) provide background music for their “entertainments”.  Sometimes, Mrs. Huntington hired a trio or quartet of professional musicians to serenade her guests. The large apricot veined marble table in the middle of the Loggia also functioned as the buffet table for the alfresco feasting of lovely afternoon tea dainties. 

The usual time period for the Huntington’s to be “in residence” at the San Marino Ranch was from January to May. It was unusual that they were at the Ranch in the summertime. The reasons for the Huntingtons being at the Ranch in the summer of 1919 are not quite clear; probably because World War II. 

One of the Huntington’s “entertainments” was recorded in the Los Angeles Examiner newspaper in l919. In August of that year, the Huntingtons entertained a Navy dignitary & his wife and a small group of guests on the Loggia.

This was the “carriage entrance” to the Huntington’s Mansion on the San Marino Ranch. The Huntingtons & guests used to enter the property on the south side through the grand rod iron gates (on Euston Rd. today). A very long driveway of palm trees & orange trees; motoring up to the Mansion they would pass the Cactus Garden then the Family Fruit Orchard. To their left, the huge Lath House, & the newly built “Library Building” housing the Huntington Library; with the Huntingtons “Guest Cottage” (Big House) to their right. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

In the local Los Angeles Examiner newspaper it was written: “When the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels & his wife, stopped briefly in Los Angeles on Monday, August 11, 1919, the Huntington’s gave a small luncheon tea for them. Edward [HEH] drove out with them from Los Angeles along with the Mayor [Mr. George Patton Sr.]. He [H. E. Huntington] first took the guests on a stroll through the gardens, & then showed them a selection of his choice books & manuscripts. Then, Belle [Arabella] presided over a tea in their honor. Served on the Loggia for a select group of guests.” 

Connecting the dots of why Mr. H. E. Huntington would be entertaining the Secretary of the Navy goes back to the Huntington’s family business. Henry E. Huntington & Arabella inherited from Collis P. Huntington: the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company in Virginia, which was the largest shipbuilders in the United States. The American Navy ships were built there at Newport News, VA; sometimes the Huntington family were asked to christen the ships, documents are archived in HEH Collection. 

The Pacific Fleet (a new addition to the American fleet) was sailing the Pacific  coast & also to the Panama Canal; the Huntington family helped get the Panama Canal completed in 1915. Often, the Huntington family were invited for dinners & tours on newly built ships also the Admiral’s ship. So Josephus Daniel, Secretary of the Navy would be guiding the position of the fleet, especially during WWII.

On a hot August day with temperatures rising to over 100+degrees in sunny Southern California; guests would have welcomed iced sun tea. Sun Tea was made fresh from dried tea & hot water, and then brewed in the California sunshine. For wealthy Americans, it was also a social tradition at the time to mix a blend of loose tea together to make an exquisite taste to impress their guests.  

A tall glass of Iced tea on a hot August day, delightful! But in the Huntington’s case a slice of orange instead of a lemon would be on the glass & maybe a long iced tea silver spoon. Mr. Huntington was a founding member of the San Gabriel Country Club; they still put a sliced orange in their iced tea. I wonder if he donated land to the SGCC?

Orange Pekoe was Mrs. Huntington’s favorite tea, which was a mixture of India tea & Ceylon tea.Tall glasses of Iced Tea with a sprig of mint served with iced tea silver spoon, served on a dainty lined tea saucer. A refreshing drink on a hot summer afternoon & was the rage in 1900’s; maybe Mint Juleps were served

From the Huntington mansion’s grocery lists. invoices & receipts, they illustrate what the Huntingtons might have served as refreshments. For a tea luncheon, other cold beverages could have been offered like Ranch Lemonade or Orangeade, & Mr. Huntington’s favorite, Ginger Ale. The cooks also made, Homemade Root Beer  in the Huntington kitchen at the ranch.  

A festive sparkling Garden Party Punch would have been made by the butler. The Huntington’s butler, Alfonzo would normally make this punch (as one of the Head Butler’s jobs). But Mr. Hertrich, the superintendent of the Ranch, was in charge of the keys to the wine cellar, if it had champagne or rum in it. Alfonso stated that everyone got along really well & helped each other out when the Huntington’s were entertaining.. 

A silver punch bowl with lots of ice or a ice ring to show off at the Garden Party Punch.

Garden Party Fruit Punch (1912)

This refreshing sparkling orangeade, could become a Champagne Punch just by adding Champagne. The original recipe came from a rare book: The Book of Parties and Pastimes, by Dawson and Telford, 1912, but the author didn’t give amounts or directions.  

2 c. strawberries, sliced

10 oranges, squeezed

2 can pineapple, crushed

2 qt. carbonated or mineral water [or ginger ale]

Cut up the fruit squeeze the juices from some of the fruit for flavor. Refrigerate. About 15 minutes before the Party, add to a large punch bowl, add fruit & iced cold carbonated water [or ginger ale]. Add lots of ice or make a Ice Ring with orange slices. Slice a couple of oranges & float on top of punch. Historical Note: The Huntingtons always had huge amounts of carbonated water available. Especially mineral water under the labels of Apollinaris, Poland, & Spring waters. The Huntingtons had all the punch ingredients right on the Ranch: oranges, berries, & fresh exotic pineapple growing in the Lath House. 

For tea receptions or garden parties such as this one: The Huntington’s favored Caviar, & Roquefort Canapés passed on a silver tray, or maybe they served Deviled Eggs.

What a clever way to display deviled eggs!! Mrs. Huntington would have them on a doily lined silver tray decorated with herbs or parsley, everything had to be just so stated the butler.

An array of tea sandwiches was displayed on large doily-lined silver platters. Petit tea sandwiches probably  Chopped Ham Salad, & old-fashioned Chicken Salad, popular with the Huntingtons. Other sandwiches enhanced with the San Marino Ranch bounty of olives & nuts with Cream Cheese on freshly baked breads, like Cheese bread. Maybe hearty meat sandwich for the men, like Roast Beef or a Bookmaker’s Sandwiches (Roast Beef & Horseradish) on a French Baguette.                             

Salads representing the multi colors of the fruit at the Ranch: like fresh Ambrosia Fruit Salad & New York Waldorf salad made of Green Grapes, Red Apple, Mayonnaise, & Brown Walnuts. The fruits from the Huntington ‘s abundant orchard & Lath House, enhanced the Tropical Fruit Salad, made with exotic Crenshaw Melons, Champagne Grapes, Pineapple, Mangoes, & Kiwi fruit. Or a Fruit Compote ( Stewed fruit with Orange Marmalade was infused with Sherry, Curacao, or Brandied Peaches), took on the deep radiance of jewel tones. Also, Summer Potato Salad with French Tarragon & Ranch ColeSlaw were sometimes served.  

This is a Southern Ambrosia Salad; the Huntingtons would have taken advantage of all the summer fruit they had a the ranch! Apples or mango could even be included; with a cherry on top!!

Summer Ambrosia Salad

4 Ranch oranges (Navel or Valencia), chop

4 peaches, chop 

1 Honeydew melon, chop

4 nectarines, chop

20 Ranch green “Mission” grapes, whole

20 Ranch red grapes. whole

1 bag small marshmallows

2 kiwi fruit, sliced [Exotic fruit in Mr. Huntington’s Lath House]

4 c. heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

Spearmint or French tarragon leaves, minced

Peel & cut the oranges,  cut all the fruit into cubes. Place fruit in a large cut glass serving bowl or punch bowl. Let juices drain & discard. Before the party, beat the whipped cream until soft peaks & fold into fruit mixture. Decorate the top of ambrosia salad with sliced bright green kiwi fruit & sprinkle some spearmint or French tarragon. Recipe: Nancy Armitage  

The sweet smell of desserts could have filled the air: Southern Bourbon Balls, Rum Cakes, & moist Teacakes. “Gateaux la ‘Orange” a French orange cake drizzled with Curacao served at the Hotel Huntington, I found on a 1924 luncheon tea menu. This cake would have showcased Mr. Huntington’s ranch oranges. Dainty Petit Fours (delicious iced square cakes) & Bonbons (Chocolate Truffles) & Huntington Mansion Honey Spice Bars would have completed the tea display. Displayed on doily- lined cake plates & decorated with fresh herbs, flowers, or petit roses like “Cecile Brunner” pink. For they were entertaining dignitaries for tea, it had to be elegant.

I was so excited when I received this recipe!  It is a recipe that was actually made in the Huntington Mansion at the San Marino Ranch! The Huntington’s dessert chef, Mrs. Lena Kley used to work for the Huntingtons at Christmas time or when they were entertaining. Mrs. Kley’s husband, Paul, also worked on the Ranch, he was a very skilled carpenter.  Mrs. Kley concocted this rich decadent treat. Her granddaughter, Chris Story, was kind enough to share the recipe with me. These treats are so rich, that one should cut them into a smallest of brownie size squares!

Huntington Mansion “Honey Spice Bars” with Royal Icing 

2 c. walnuts, chopped 

1 pt. honey, [orange blossom honey]

2 t. cinnamon

2 t. allspice

6 eggs [2 are for the icing]

½ lb. (2 c.) ground cocoa

1c.  sugar

2 t. cloves [ground]

2 t. nutmeg

5 c. flour

6 t. baking powder

Mix the honey, cocoa, & sugar first. Pour in beaten eggs. Add flour, spices & baking powder. Grease pan & bake in slow oven [Bake 300 F for 38 mins. Let cool & drizzle Royal Icing on top.]

Royal Icing

1 box powdered sugar

2 egg whites (above eggs)

Mix powdered sugar into the 2 egg whites to make a white icing to drizzle on top of [Honey Spice Bars] after they are baked. 

Note from Chris: All these years & I still don’t know how long to bake them! They can become too dry if they are overcooked. Nancy Note: Mix all the dry ingredients first, then the walnuts. Add the eggs & honey, & mix well. Pat dough down in (2) 7 1/2” X 11 “ glass pyrex dish. Cook in a pyrex dish at 300F. for 38 mins. Take out of the oven & let them sit. When cooled, ice the bars with Royal Icing in the pan. Cut into small 1 “ squares. They were really rich and moist, a cross between a truffle and a brownie. 

Mrs. Arabella Huntington had many patterns of plates in this Homer Laughlin – she owned “Angelus Rose”: gold, white & pink roses. The Huntington& staff purchased from Parmelee-Dohrmann in downtown Los Angeles at the time. I think every year they introduced a new pattern that matched the other “Angelus Rose” patterns. Photo Credit: Nancy Armitage

The moist “Honey Spice Bars” tasted like a combination of rich chocolate brownies & moist chocolate truffles. Mrs. Kley also baked Oatmeal Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, & Cinnamon Star Cookies. The petit Tea Tarts were all handmade from San Marino Ranch fresh fruit, berries, & nuts both of which grew in profusion in the ranch orchards & berry patch. Petit French Tarts could have been made with Apricots or Lemon or juicy Peaches. Bowl of  juicy Ranch Berries (Fresh Loganberries, Raspberries & Strawberries) were enjoyed with French Chantilly Cream. A tasty nutty treat could have been Pecan Pies or Petit Pecan Tarts.  

These bite size treats are called “Southern Pecan Tassies” or Pecan Tartlettes, they are delicious. Mr. Huntington grew pecans on the Ranch.

Bushels of apples were shipped to the Huntington mansion kitchen from back east. The head cook & housekeeper, Nora Larsen, could have made a variety of sweet desserts for the Huntingtons & their guests. But an American favorite, Apple Pie or Apple Turnovers or small Apple Tarts, could have also completed the menu. Served with chilled homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with orange zest & drizzle of orange Curacao ( Mr. Huntington’s favorite).  

Bibliography:

HEH Coll. 8/9 MS uncat (Rose names from San Marino Papers; Food receipts & grocery lists; gourmet grocery Jeuve; pantry food ingredients; homemade Root beer ingredients; Receipt with Curacao; 150 – 200 flower arrangements, berries, fruit  SMR Trees; invoices with numerous pink & white roses ordered

HEH Coll. 38/6 MS uncat (ADH estate papers; Mrs. Leslie Huntington’s affidavit, ADH hire musicians for entertainments) 

HEH Coll. 37/1-18 MS uncat (ADH Surrogate Court property papers)

HEH Coll MS 38/6 uncat (HEH estate papers the from the Huntington mansion brown inventory book/list; Mrs. Huntington’s numerous fine china plates; music box in the coat room, San Marino Ranch)

HEH Coll. MS 19/1-18 uncat (Alfonso Gomez, the butler interviews)

HEH and Patton, card players from butler, Alfonso Gomez interviews

HEH Coll. Menu Ephemera Eph 40- uncat (Huntington menu ephemera)(Petit fours & bonbons are on 90% of Huntington banquet menus)

HEH Coll. MS 38/11 (1919 NYC No.2 Mansion receipts: catered teaparty with chicken salad, ham salad, & beef tea sandwiches, & teacakes, raisin cake and chocolate cake

Sent by mail: Recipe from Mrs. Kley’s (granddaughter Chris Story gave it to me) of the Huntington’s San Marino Ranch dessert cook, Mrs. Kley  (Huntington Mansion “Honey Spice Bars”)

Newspaper L A Examiner: after August 11, 1919 article of (Secretary of Navy with the Huntington visit)

Book: Botanical Gardens by William Hertrich (Photo of Loggia, pink & white roses decorated most of the rose gardens)

Mrs. Huntington also entertained using Red “American Beauty” Red Article: San Francisco Call Newspaper (1892) “The Huntington Dinner” & New York Times

HEH Coll. Photo black & white circa 1930 photo of the marble statue of Diana, the huntress located on the Huntingtons loggia. Mr. H.E. Huntington died in 1927. www.huntington.org.com

Hotel Huntington 10th Anniversary menu (1914-1924) “Gateaux a l’Orange: (Orange Cake) was on the menu. Document: Ephemera folder of Special Collections at Pasadena Museum of History, Pasadena.

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