The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands
Situated in the Coachella Valley between the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains, this private residence was the winter home of Ambassador Walter and Leonore Annenberg. The land for the estate, undeveloped scrubby desert with stunning views of the mountains, was purchased in the early 1960s. Designed by A. Quincy Jones, the 25,000 square foot house sits near the center of the property’s 200 acres. It is raised up on broad terraces supported by battered concrete retaining walls that allude to Mayan architecture. The terraces, surfaced with concrete paths and close-cropped lawn, support trees and shrubs which have been replaced to bring the house back to its original design. An open steel trellis painted white wraps around the edge of the house. A naturalistic swimming pool extends from the terraces adjacent to the guest wing of the house. The gardens and grounds, conceived by Jones with landscape architect Emmet Wemple and further developed by horticulturist Rolla J. Wilhite, include eleven man-made lakes with connecting streams and bridges and hundreds of olive and eucalyptus trees planted in loose rows and clusters. The curvilinear entrance drive weaves through this extensive landscape. Close to the house Wilhite designed a succulent garden, a rose garden, and plantings of dwarf Meyer lemon and evergreen pear trees. A private nine-hole golf course designed by Dick Wilson integrates with the gardens and the views from the house to the mountains.