Parley Johnson house opening to the public

DOWNEY - For the first time in many years, one of Downey's historic jewels will be opened to the public.

The Casa de Parley Johnson, a magnificent 6,000 square-foot Monterey Colonial estate with spectacular grounds built in the 1920s and recently restored by the Assistance League of Downey, will be open on Saturday, October 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20 from noon to 4 p.m.

For a $15 ticket, visitors will receive a docent-guided tour of the beautiful mansion at 7749 Florence Avenue that was built to be the home of citrus rancher Parley Johnson and his wife Gypsy.

In addition to the tours of the house, visitors will be able to enjoy homemade baked goods, craft items, cupboard treasures, collectibles, food and entertainment, and an assortment of vendors during the two-day celebration.

Tickets are available at the Assistance League's Second Tyme Around Thrift Shop at 11026 Downey Avenue. For information about the event, call 562-869-0232.

The Casa de Parley Johnson was the epitome of elegance and class for six decades, hosting many fabulous garden club events, tea parties and holiday celebrations. The house was designed by noted architect Roland Coate and the expansive gardens were created by Florence Yoch and Lucile Council. The estate has been featured in Architectural Digest magazine.

Parley Johnson was known for helping develop the Valencia orange and was one of the founders of the Automobile Club of Southern California. Gypsy was one of the leading members of the Los Angeles Garden Club and took great pride in her amazing gardens.

"There is a special magic in this house and the beautiful grounds that surround it," said Adele Alexander of the Assistance League. "Readying the house for this historic weekend has been a labor of love for all of us, because we are very excited for our fellow citizens of Downey to see this legendary place.

"You can almost imagine this breathtaking estate nestled in 50 acres of orange grove that radiated out from the house in all directions," Adele said. "The estate was an idyllic setting for Parley and Gypsy."

Parley passed away in 1948, but Gypsy lived on and continued to host some of the most elegant parties in Downey until she died in 1986. She willed the Casa de Parley Johnson to the Assistance League, which has used it as its chapter house for nearly 30 years.

"Now we are opening this freshly polished jewel for everyone in the community to discover during the weekend of October 19-20," Adele said. "We know our fellow Downey residents will enjoy visiting this historic house that helps us truly appreciate the graciousness of a bygone era in the city we love."

********** Published: Oct. 10, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 26