The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands
In 2001, Ambassador Walter (1908-2002) and Leonore (1918-2009) Annenberg signed a Declaration of Trust outlining their vision for the future use of Sunnylands and itemizing permitted programs. They directed that their beautiful estate in Rancho Mirage, California, be available to serve as a sanctuary for generations of high-level national and world leaders seeking the privacy, the peace, and “the pause” needed for solving the most pressing national and international issues.
Trustees: The children and grandchildren of Walter and Leonore Annenberg
Howard Deshong III
Elizabeth R. Kabler
Charles Annenberg Weingarten
Gregory Annenberg Weingarten
President: Amb. David J. Lane (Ret.)
Sunnylands: A historic estate
- Sunnylands was commissioned in 1963 by Ambassador Walter and Mrs. Annenberg as a winter home. It was completed in 1966.
- Named after Sunnylands, an Annenberg family home in Pennsylvania
- The sun emblem was commissioned by the Annenbergs in the 1960s.
- The 25,000-square-foot house and 200 acres were designed by Southern California architect A. Quincy Jones.
The estate also includes:
- Three cottages designed by A. Quincy Jones
- Eleven lakes, a tennis court, and a nine-hole golf course
- Dick Wilson-designed nine-hole golf course, which also plays as an 18-hole course
- Tim Jackson and David Kahn are the designers who restored the course to its original Dick Wilson design.
Sunnylands Center & Gardens
- Commissioned in 2008 by Leonore Annenberg, the 17,000-square-foot building, on a 15-acre parcel adjacent to the historic estate, was designed by Frederick Fisher & Partners and was completed in 2011. Fisher references the A. Quincy Jones-designed historic house in his use of lava stone walls, trellises, and floor-to-ceiling glass.
- The interior design is by Michael Smith, interior designer for the White House family quarters for President Barack Obama.
- The nine-acre gardens, designed by the Office of James Burnett, consist of more than 53,000 individual arid-landscape plants and 1.25 miles of walking paths.
- Wall panels provide information on the history of Walter and Leonore Annenberg at Sunnylands, the famous people who visited, and the contemporary retreat program.
- More than 3,000 letters from 11 U.S. presidents dating from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama.
- 3,400 books about art, etiquette, birds, plants, journalism, history, geography, music, and government.
- Scrapbooks, photo albums, holiday cards, and personal correspondence.
- Silver-gilt, Chinese porcelain and artifacts, Meissen porcelain, Steuben glass, Flora Danica, 19th and 20th century drawings and paintings.
- Sculpture by 19th and 20th century artists, including Yaacov Agam, Henry Bertoia, Jean Arp, Alberto Giacometti, and Auguste Rodin.
Open to the public
- Opened March 1, 2012
- Guided house tours available by advance purchase of tickets at Sunnylands.org.
- Free admission to Center & Gardens, Wednesday through Sunday, 8:30 am to 4 pm.
- Café serving snacks, sandwiches, salads, and beverages is open during public hours.
- Sunnylands Center & Gardens: $35 million
- Restoration of historic house and grounds, including golf course and cottages: $25.5 million
Green technology at Sunnylands
The Center attained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status for sustainability. There is a solar field with 864 solar collectors, an underground geothermal system that heats and cools Sunnylands Center, a new low-water-use irrigation system, and a sustainability team that insures the use of best practices and operates under a Green Vision statement.
The 2017-completed Administration campus is the second new-construction project at the former Annenberg estate to achieve LEED certification. This project achieved LEED platinum, the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating.
For more information on sustainability at Sunnylands, please visit our sustainability page.