By Nancy Armitage
For several days & nights in July of 1926, Mr. Henry Huntington invited the Prince & Princess of Sweden to his California residence. Mr. Huntington’s mansion was on the San Marino Ranch in Southern California. His royal guests, the Crown Prince Gustavus Adolphus & Princess Louise of Sweden, arrived at his Huntington estate on Wednesday, July 21, 1926. Mr. Huntington was eagerly awaiting his guests to take them on a tour of his Huntington Library Building. The Enchanted Evening with the royals was not scheduled until Friday July 23, of that weekend. When Henry Huntington hosted the “Royal Dinner” at his stately mansion on the San Marino Ranch.
Throughout his life, Mr. Henry E. Huntington traveled, met & entertained important presidential dignitaries & royalty. While in Europe, he often dined with the aristocracy at private clubs or their estates. “Edwards” would then reciprocate by inviting these aristocrats to visit his beautiful estate and gardens, “San Marino Ranch” by Pasadena in Southern California in the United States.
In the 1920’s, European royalty & the Huntington Family often traveled with a large entourage of servants, including Butlers, Gentlemen’s valets, Ladies maids, Ladies-in-waiting, Personal social secretaries, & Footmen. The Huntington family had royalty among them, Princess Clara von Hatzfeldt was actually Mr. Huntington’s is sister-in-law (from his 1st wife, MaryAlice); Clara Huntington von Hatzfeldt was the adopted daughter of Collis P. Huntington but she was actually his niece.
In 1926, when “Edwards” (Mr. Henry E. Huntington, a widower) entertained the Sweden Crown Prince & Princess, his royal guests could have stayed at his Huntington elegant estate or the Hotel Huntington in Pasadena, CA. The San Marino Ranch property, had a large “Guest Cottage” built just for his Royal houseguests; with enough room provided for the Royals butlers & maids. It was technically not a “cottage” at all but a very large house. It was designed by Myron Hunt, like the southern Greenbrier Hotel in WV or the White house. It had 4 large stately columns; like a antebellum mansion with a large veranda & green grass in front, & a half moon dramatic driveway. The Guest Cottage was actually quite large with six bedrooms & servant’s quarters. It also had a great hall for entertainment, a large fireplace & a wine cellar. Sometimes, Mr. Huntington’s houseguests stayed in the Huntington residence in the west wing, there were many guest rooms in the mansion. The royal entourage could have also been housed in the Guest cottage or at the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena (which Mr. H. E. Huntington had previously owned from 1914-1918).
Mrs. Arabella Huntington sadly passed away in 1924. So for this important event, Mr. Huntington’s entrusted his sister, Caroline “Carrie” Huntington Holliday, to be his hostess. This dinner was only part of a grand weekend of events, there was a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, tea parties at private clubs, breakfasts, & luncheons, & visits to Hollywood sets, etc.
During this special visit, on the evening of Friday, July 23, 1926, Mr. H.E. “Edwards” Huntington hosted an especially spectacular formal “Royal Dinner” for his visiting royalty.
On this visit of the Prince & Princess, with other royals were also invited by Mr. Huntington to help celebrate this special occasion. Dressed in ball beaded gowns & men in tux or white tie to greet the young royal couple the Crown Prince & Princess of Sweden. To welcome them, Mr. Huntington gathered Prince Erick of Denmark, & Her Royal Highness Princess Erick of Denmark, Count Goran Posse, Counsellor Fritz Henricksson, His Excellency Walmer S. Buston, The Honorable Miss Christine de Reutersward, with assorted dignitaries, & scholars.
Dressed in their grandest finery, the others in attendance to this important banquet were Captain Asbrink & Colonel Solbert of the United States Navy. There was also: the Trustees of the future Huntington Library: Dr. & Mrs. Milliken, Dr. & Mrs. Hale, scholars from the California Institute of Technology. The other honored guests were Mr. Huntington’s younger sister, “Carrie” or Caroline Holladay, (Mr. Huntington’s hostess) & her husband, E. “Burke” Holladay, an attorney. There was also, Mr. & Mrs. Wallerstedt, & Mr. & Mrs. Robinson. The seating chart found in Mr. Huntington’s personal correspondence shows a total of 24 guests in attendance at this intimate, distinguished gathering. Also, found in the archives was a typed-up agenda for the entire royal weekend.
Mr. Huntington’s large household staff began preparations for the royal dinner months ahead. The Huntington Library houses a black & white photograph of the table setting of this special event. In the middle of the dining room table, there were two, ten-light Georgian silver candelabras, standing 24” high, polished until they gleamed. The candelabras had damask fabric with roses on the shades; elegant beaded shades on top of the candles. Only the Huntingtons fanciest Damask table linens were aired, laundered, & pressed. The table was set with soft Damask tablecloth (white or pink), which had a correct overhang of approximately eighteen inches. The crisp Damask napkins correctly folded (traditional style) sat on each dinner plate. In the photo, taken of this memorable occasion, the porcelain plates appear to be Haviland, or Limoges fine bone china patterns with flower pattern.
Archival records show that the perfect backdrop for the Huntington’s Dining Room was nine tall English George Romney paintings. These were favorite English portraits of the Mr. Huntington’s. Lovely classical music (maybe a trio) & candlelight would have filled the room with warmth & ambiance. Mrs. Huntington had chosen the Dining Room color palette to be green & gold dining room.The dining room window coverings were floor to ceiling green satin swag drapes.
Amid all this splendor the tabletop was decorated with five low colorful floral arrangements. Though the single photograph in existence is black & white, Mr. Huntington’s preference was pink & white flowers (Arabella Huntington’s favorite), especially roses are widely acknowledged. The photo image shows the flower arrangements consisting of stock, blue larkspur, blue delphinium, ferns, roses, & passion flowers, all from the Huntington’s cutting flower garden. These delicate flowers were arranged in deeply etched & widely fluted, silver Victorian vases.
In the Edwardian style of the day, a silver centerpiece, a French Epergne filled with flowers & fruit, sat at the center of the table. The center of the elegant epergne, a vase filled with flowers, with 4 epergne silver extensions would have been filled with sugared fruits (citrus & oranges) & nuts (pecans, pistachio, & walnuts) proudly from the San Marino Ranch. Flanking the Epergne were two doily-lined, silver baskets filled with exotic summer fruit – juicy plums, sweet grapes, fragrant nectarines, & mangos from Mr. Huntington’s lath house.
The Huntingtons French Baccarat etched crystal glasses twinkled on the dining table. The Huntingtons had several crystal patterns in their glassware collection. But for the Royal Visit, they used their new Baccarat crystal (purchased in 1925 & sent to the ranch). Each “cover” or dinner place was lined with assorted crystal & chinaware. For each diner, there were French Baccarat Goblets: water goblets, sherry goblet, (for the soup course), white wine goblet (for the fish or poultry course), red wine goblet (for the entrée course), & Champagne goblet set at each cover (place setting). Records show that Mr. Huntington purchased a large amount of Baccarat crystal stemware & finger bowls in 1925. The invoice shows that the Baccarat was delivered to his New York mansion on Fifty-Seventh Street & then shipped off to the Huntington Ranch in sunny southern California.
Both Mr. & Mrs. H. E. Huntington (Edwards & Belle) abundantly collected Gorham sterling silver flatware & entertaining accessories. Interesting pieces like tomato servers & asparagus tongs, were used during these formal affairs to dish food off of silver trays. Mrs. Arabella Huntington started her sterling silver collection in the 1890’s; when she was the wife of Collis P. Huntington.
The Gorham sterling silver flatware patterns in existence at that time were “Imperial Chrysanthemum” made in 1894, “Chantilly”, first made in 1895, & “Buttercup”, first made in 1899. It can be assumed that the couple collected silver from one of those patterns. Actually, Mrs. Arabella Huntington had the money to have all 3 patterns if she wanted them. Gorham Silver was also the silver flatware used in the ‘State Dining Room” at the US Presidents’ White House in that era. Mrs. Huntington bought 2 ornate Gorham tea sets and trays in the pattern “Imperial Chrysanthemum”; one for her niece Carrie Huntington Holladay wedding gift & one for herself. It is highly likely that her sterling silver flatware was in the same pattern.
From the photograph of this royal dinner (Book: The Huntington Botanical Garden by Wm. Hertrich p.144), it appears that a formal place setting was used. The Huntingtons had a grand collection of Gorham sterling silver flatware. At each “cover” (place setting), there were three forks on the left & two knives with a spoon on the right. The three forks were used for appetizer, fish, & entrée courses; the two knives were for the fish & the entrée courses. The spoon on the right would have been used as a soup spoon. The oyster course would have come with a small oyster fork on the oyster plate. If Mr. Huntington served salad at his royal table, an additional chilled fork would have accompanied the salad. The footmen would have placed the chilled fork on the salad plate. Depending on what was on the multi-course dinner menu another fork & spoon might have also been used. The smaller fork used for cake, pie, or tarts & the smaller spoon for frozen pudding or fancy glaces (ice cream) usually located above the plates of each guest.
Mrs. Arabella Huntington sadly passed away in 1924. So for this important event, Mr. Huntington entrusted his sister, Caroline “Carrie” Huntington Holliday, to be his hostess. This dinner was only part of a grand weekend of events. Sadly, I could find no menu in existence for this momentous occasion of the Royal Gala Dinner. From the Huntington mansions grocery lists & other Huntington formal dinners, this historian gained knowledge of what they might have eaten and other Huntington dinner menus. The following would be a typical Huntington fancy banquet dinner, usually about 8-9 courses sometimes up to 12 courses.
The Huntington Royal dinner might have started with Oysters on the Half Shell or a Shrimp or Crab Cocktail with a glass Spanish “Manzanilla” Sherry. Mr. Huntington adored raw oysters especially with a Mignonette Sauce (made of champagne vinegar & shallots) & sliced lemon wedges on fancy oyster plates.
The second course would have been a clear bouillon and/or consommé maybe a Consommé Royale (a favorite of the Huntingtons); or a cream soup like Potage St. Germain, Cream of Asparagus, or Cream of Mushroom could have been another selection. Sometimes at these fancy meals, the hosts would offer both a bouillon & a cream soup. The soup(s) could have been served in a fancy Haviland soup tureen. Mrs. Huntington could have used her fancy footed Elite Haviland soup bowls with 2 handles. There is evidence in the Mansion records that Mrs. Huntington used large Haviland sugar bowls with lids as soup vessels. This was a brillant idea, the lid (on the sugar bowl) would have kept the soup hot from the kitchen to the Dining Room Table. They did have 2 soups a day, one for luncheon & one for dinner and they fed the servant staff. The asparagus & mushrooms as a vegetable course maybe with Hollandaise sauce. The veggies had been grown in the abundant vegetable gardens at the Ranch; the fine California & imported French wines & French champagnes chosen with care from Mr. Huntington’s enormous private wine cellar. His lavish wine cellar was in the basement of his palatial mansion; he also had another wine cellar in the basement of the Guest Cottage.
Consomme Royale with Royal Custard (Savory)
3 cans Campbells Beef Broth
4 pkg Knox gelatin
pinch white pepper
1 c. royal custard (below) or 1 block extra firm tofu, diced in small cubes
Heat beef broth, add gelatin, garlic, & white pepper. Heat until gelatin is dissolved. Ladle into small soup bowls with lids & serve to guests. Serve hits. Recipe: Nancy Armitage
Royal Custard (Savory)
This recipe was adapted from one of Mr. Huntington’s rare cookbooks called (1908) Malone Cookbook of New York & Womens Aid Society Malone, NY. It was under the name “Consomme Royal“. The Huntington Kitchen had special Royal molds or “Roy” molds to put this custard in.
pinch of salt
3 T. consomme (chicken or beef)
pinch of cayenne pepper
Whisk eggs & add consomme. Add garlic, cayenne pepper & salt. Pour into a small pan. Place the same pan into a pan of hot water, cook until the custard is hardened & set. Let completely cool, then dice the custard. Add diced custard to consomme. Recipe Nancy Armitage
The fish course or poultry course was next, which may have been a Hot Croquette made of chicken or fish in a crunchy fried batter crust or maybe Chicken Mousse in Aspic, served with a Sauterne wine. The entrée most favored by the Huntington’s was Roasted Lamb with Mint Sauce sometimes served was Haricots Verts (French Green Beans) or Petit Pois (Garden fresh baby Peas), & Pommes (Duchess or Chateau Potatoes). The entrée was served with French or California Champagne. .
If a game course were served, it could have been San Marino Ranch-grown Pheasant with Truffle Sauce or Roasted Duck with Orange Sauce made with a Claret wine. Bordeaux wine was usually served with game courses.
During the Edwardian Era, these multi-course dinners, took a couple of hours to serve; often there was a break in the middle. This was a chance to take a break from an abundance of food. They could have had a refreshing sorbet, like Champagne Sorbet or Orange Sorbet (to showcase his orange groves). Or Roman Punch or Punch Mont Blanc was often served by the Huntington’s after the entrée, as a palate cleanser.
Punch Mont Blanc (1924) a la Hotel Huntington
This punch is a ice cream punch flavored with raspberry liqueur; perfect for a hot summer night. It was originally served at the Hotel Huntington in January 10, 1924. The menu states it was the formal opening for the winter season and hosted by Mr. Linnard.
1 large scoop of vanilla ice cream
1 oz. vodka
1 oz. heavy cream or half & half
1 oz. French Chambord raspberry liqueur or blackberry liqueur
Blend ingredients together. Add ingredients to a fancy French Baccarat glasses. Place a raspberry on top. Recipe: Nancy Armitage
Ranch-grown fresh vegetables were often served as their own course at a formal affair such as this one. Mr. Huntington numerous vegetable gardens on the Ranch would have provided plates of fresh French Artichokes, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Salsify (Oyster Plant), & French green beans “Haricot verte”, French mushrooms, or Petit Pois (French Garden fresh baby peas).
The Huntingtons often served salad in the French style, (the salad course served after the entrée). Waldorf Salad was a Huntington family favorite. The popular 1920’s, California Orange & Walnut Salad could have been served. It had bits of French roquefort cheese on French Lettuces with Tarragon French Vinaigrette would have shown off the San Marino Ranch oranges. At Mr. Huntington’s ranch they grew walnuts, many kinds of lettuces, & French tarragon for the salad in his expansive orchards, french vegetables, & herb gardens, with French arugula (Rocket).
The cheese course was served French-style (after the salad course). The imported French cheeses offered to the guests would have been assorted French cheeses. Some of the Huntington’s favorite cheeses were French Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, Goat cheese, or Port Salut served with assorted water crackers.
The imported French cheeses usually served decoratively on tiered cake plates with fruits & nuts. The jewel-colored Ranch fruits, like Apricots, Pineapples, & exotic Mangos & Papayas were showcased & placed artistically at each end of the dining table. At the end of the Royal dinner, assorted Ranch grown nuts like Pistachios, Walnuts, Almonds, & Pecans filled the outside bowls of the silver epergne centerpiece to complement the cheeses.
For the grand finale, Mr. Huntington’s could have served a decorative pudding like Pudding Diplomate, Empress Pudding, Royal Pudding, or Charlotte Russe, with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. Some of these fanciful puddings & ice cream were molded in the shape of castles, train cars, or ornate decorative shapes. Served with coffee or rich French cocoa in petit demitasse cups.
I have seen several fancy Huntington dinner menus that have a locomotive dessert, a fancy cake, or ice cream shape like a train car (symbolizing Mr. Huntington famous LA Electric Railway red train cars). To make the presentation even more elaborate, the cooks might place the fancy dessert on a tall cake plate, surrounded by herbs & edible stems floating from the dessert.
Ranch berries like raspberries & loganberries, with kumquats, & bright mandarin oranges might have lined the base of the fancy mold as garnish. Also, decorating the fancy pudding were Chantilly Cream on top, & embellished with marzipan or sugared fruits and edible flowers or herbs.
To finish this elaborate Huntington Royal feast, Assorted French Petit Fours (small iced cakes) & Bonbons (petit chocolate & peppermint bonbons & truffles were Huntington favorites) were always on their menu; served in the large Drawing Room. After dinner, the men might have adjoined into the Huntington’s Bowling Alley or Billiard’s Room for a Cigar, Brandy, or Cognac. The Huntington Bowling Alley/Billiards Room was located through the romantic rose arbor just west of the Huntington Mansion.
After cigars & French brandy, Mr. Huntington would have had the gentlemen guests adjourn to the Drawing Room for after-dinner entertainment. The Large Drawing Room is where the famous painting “Blue Boy” was located for the guests viewing pleasure. Entertainment might have been a reading or poetry from one of Mr. Huntington’s book, harp or violin or piano music. But after the royal dinner that night, they all drove out to the Hollywood Bowl.
Petit chocolate bonbons & liqueurs such as Crème de Menthe or Grand Marnier would also be served. According to Mr. Huntington’s typed schedule for the gala evening, after dinner there was a special treat. All the Huntington guests were taken by Mr. Huntington’s private limousines to the Hollywood Bowl for an open-air concert.
Once the guests had enjoyed the music under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl. Mr. Huntington’s limousines would have whisked them back to the delightful, charming world of the Huntington Ranch. Away from the paparazzi of the Hotel Huntington, his royal guests could come visit his world class library of books, talk walks to the Japanese garden, visit the large exotic bird aviary, play pool or billiards, or just read a book or take tea.
Weekend events Sweden Royal Tour Schedule:
(Tea & Refreshments with Crown Prince & Princess of Sweden)
Wednesday, July 21, 1926
Mission Inn Dinner Banquet [Riverside, CA] 150-200 people
9:30PM Mr. Huntington [SMR] then Huntington Hotel [Pasadena]
Thursday, July 22, 1926
10:00 AM Mayor at Public Library [Mayor Patton at San Marino Library or Los Angeles Public Library]
11-12:15 AM Shrine Auditorium with Dr. Milliken & Mr. Monten, Swedish [Prime] Minister
1:15 PM Arcadia, Luncheon with Prince Erik of Denmark
4:45 PM Tea at Midwick Club [Alhambra area, Los Angeles; HEH was a member] with Prince Eric
6:00 PM Mr. Huntington to dress for dinner
7:15 PM Dinner Chamber of Commerce – Biltmore Hotel [Downtown Los Angeles]
Friday, July 23, 1926 [San Marino Ranch – Huntington Mansion]
Breakfast with Mr. Huntington
Museum Exposition Park – Prehistoric Fossils [USC]
MGM Meyer Studio – Take Picture [Photo] & Luncheon
Warner Brothers Studio
Famous Players Studio
Dinner with Mr. Huntington [“Royal Dinner’ for 24 dinner guests at Huntington Mansion on San Marino Ranch]
Hollywood Bowl Concert
Sat. July 24, 1926 [San Marino Ranch – Huntington Mansion]
Breakfast with Mr. Robinson at Mr. Huntington’s
Oil Fields [Manhattan Beach? Redondo Beach]
Luncheon at Bolsa Chica Gun Club [HEH was a member]
6:00 pm Arrival Central Station Los Angeles [Train Station]
6:15 pm Southern Pacific Train to Yosemite [Northern California][Prince & Princess leave the Ranch]
Document: HEH Coll. MS 822 (Correspondence Box 182) Typed up by HEH or Hapgood plan of event for Prince and Princess (located at the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA Historical Note: it is not clear if the Prince & Princess of Sweden stayed at the Ranch or Huntington Hotel (Pasadena) or both.
HEH Coll. MS 822 Box 182 corr. (Royal Dinner Seating chart & typed schedule of weekend events) July 23, 1926: Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.
HEH Coll. MS 38/6 uncat (Huntington Family estate papers; Huntington Mansion inventory book/list; SMR records china, plates, crystal & silver; list of Romney portrait paintings in the dining room)
HEH Coll. MS 8/9 uncat (San Marino Ranch papers; fruits & berries grown on the Ranch)
HEH Coll. MS 11852 Box 174 (HEH correspondence; Invoice for Barrarat crystal order in 1925)
HEH Coll. MS Boxes 199 (Mr. H.E. Huntington Personal Papers and Calling Cards)
HEH Coll. MS no call number (Blueprint to H.E. Huntington Guest Cottage) shown to me by HEH Collection Assoc. Curator Jennifer Goldman
Book: Botanical Gardens by Wm. Hertrich (photo of Royal dinner at Huntington Mansion San Marino Ranch)
Formal Royal Dinner at the H. E. Huntington mansion San Marino Ranch, San Marino, Southern California, CA
A Huntington Library archived photo shows Henry E. Huntington with the young Prince & Princess of Sweden. They are in the Huntington Library building viewing a display of books. H. E. Huntington looks really proud. The Crown Prince of Sweden is wearing white slacks with dark coat & the Princess Louise is wearing a white dress for it is a summer day.
Event: To entertain the Crown Prince Gustavus Adolphus & Princess Louise of Sweden for the weekend Date: Friday July 23, 1926 Location: Henry E. Huntington’s Mansion, San Marino Ranch, San Marino, CA Guests: 24
Menu: hasn’t been found for this most important even. This menu I created from other typical Huntington family formal dining menus, shopping lists, wine cellar invoices, & summer fruits at San Marino Ranch
H. E. Huntington’s “Royal” Dinner Menu
At the H. E. Huntington’s Mansion, San Marino Ranch, CA
Date: Friday, July 23, 1926
(Foods that might have been served at the Royal Dinner)
Cocktails or Champagne & Appetizer could have been served in the Mr. Huntington Large Library at 6:00 PM maybe a tour of some paintings.
1. Oysters on the Half shell or Crab (served on Limoges oyster plates) or Shrimp Cocktail over ice served with Manzanilla or California Sherry
2. Clear Soup: “Consommé Royale” (a Huntington favorite); Cream Soup: Potage St. Germain or Cream of Mushroom Soup (served in soup bowls with two handles or gold & white sugar bowls with lids)
3. Fish or Poultry course: Croquette Poulette (Breaded chicken) or California Crabcake patties or Chicken Mousse in Aspic with crackers or Santa Catalina Sand dabs served with Sauterne
4. Entrée course: Roasted Lamb with Garden Mint Sauce served with Haricots Verts (French Green Beans with Almonds) served with French Bordeaux red wine or Champagne, Petit Pois (Petit Peas) & Pommes (Duchess or Chateau Potatoes, served with French Champagne
5. Huntington Roman Punch or Punch Mont Blanc or a sorbet to cleanse he palette like Champagne Sorbet usually the break in the 2-hour dinner
6. Game course: Pheasant with Truffle Mushroom sauce or Duck a la Orange served with Victorian Claret red wine (like Bordeaux red wine)
7. Salad course: Waldorf Salad or California Orange & Walnut Salad with French lettuces, Arugula & Tarragon French Vinaigrette (served in the French style after the entree & the game courses
8. Cheese course: French cheese like Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, & Port Salut with water crackers, accompanied with fruits & candied nuts
9. San Marino Ranch fruits & sugared nuts: Apricots, Oranges, Pineapples, Mangos with Pistachio, Walnuts, Almonds & Pecans, Ranch Orange Marmalade & water crackers
10: Grand finale: Decorative pudding & fancy cakes for the guests of honor Orange gateaux or chocolate, Royal Pudding, Empress Pudding, Charlotte Russe (Pudding) , Petit Fours (small little square iced cake), Bon Bons (petit chocolate candy), Homemade Ice Cream (Chocolate or Vanilla) with Ranch berries, Jellies, Loganberries, Kumquats, with French Chantilly Cream.
11. French Petit fours (small iced square cakes) & French Bonbons with initials of guest of honor (Chocolate covered truffles), Peppermint Bonbons served with liqueurs like French crème de menthe (mint flavored).
12. Brandy & Cognac in the Huntington Large Drawing Room or Large Library for music, singing, poetry reading. Cigars in the Huntington’s Billiard Room & Bowling Alley Building.
On this special occasions, cocktails might have been served early in the Large Library; Mr. Huntington might have had tea or after dinner drinks for the 24 guests in the Large Library, too. But the night of the Royal Dinner the dinner guests motored over to the Hollywood Bowl for a concert afterwards.