top of page

Hollywood’s First Tourist Attraction (1901-1927)

Before the Hollywood sign or Walk of Fame, the first tourist attraction in town was Paul de Longpre’s enchanting gardens on Cahuenga.

In 1901, the French painter built a Mission Revival mansion on his “Corner of Paradise,” three acres just north of Prospect Boulevard (later renamed Hollywood Boulevard), reportedly gifted by the Mother of Hollywood, Daeida Wilcox Beveridge, in a bid to bring world-famous culture to her blossoming community.

(California State Library)

And the de Longpre residence was the epicenter: On the first floor, a public art salon showcased his world-renowned talent, watercolor floral portraits, available to purchase (as were prints for those who couldn’t afford the $500 price tags).

But the pièce de résistance was outside: a resplendent garden of thousands of roses—with more than 800 varieties! Amongst the sea of pink, red, orange, and yellow, gazebos offered a shaded spot (as well as refreshments) to enjoy the scenery.

It was all such a sight to behold, de Longpre’s estate became a popular stop on the Balloon Route Excursion, a trolley line that took day-trippers along a scenic path from downtown to the beach.

The artist had just one rule: Don’t pick his flowers.

Instead, souvenirs like postcards and calendars provided visitors with lasting memories of “the most beautiful spot on earth.”

At the height of its popularity, the gardens lured as many as 8,000 people a month.

De Longpre Gardens, circa 1898 (Los Angeles Public Library)

Adding to the mystique: It was the location for the first film made in Hollywood, 1910’s Love Among the Roses starring a 15-year-old Mary Pickford.

In the spring of 1911, a series of illnesses left de Longpre bedridden, yet with a view of his beloved garden.

Knowing death was near, he told a friend: “I should be sorry to leave my flowers. This has been a very, very beautiful world to me. I am sure that beyond are other gardens and other loveliness.”

After his passing, de Longpre’s widow and daughters sold the famous estate—but by then, the bloom was off the rose.

The land along Hollywood Boulevard was worth more to developers than what was built upon it. The garden was the first to go in 1924, followed three years later by the family home.

But his legacy remains: De Longpre Avenue, which runs from Gower to just east of Fairfax.

(Los Angeles Public Library)


bottom of page