The Kinsey or Quail Lake Mansion was determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places for its unusual Classical Revival design, which was completed in 1946. The Kinsey Mansion is locally significant for its architecture as an uncommon, rural example of Neoclassical style architecture.
Backstory and Context
Influential Los Angeles developer, Glaucus E. “George” Kinsey (1894-1983) and his wife, Mattie B. Kinsey (1894-1989) acquired the property, which had been the Bailey Ranch, in a property trade during the second World War (1942). At the time, the large ranch was nearly 10,000 acres. The Kinseys built the country home on the site of what had most recently been used as a duck hunting clubhouse for General Petroleum, and mainly lived in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. They transformed what was a simple clubhouse to a Neoclassical style mansion in 1946, shortly after the end of the war. The Kinseys were each originally from Tennessee; both the Gone with the Wind novel (1936) and film (1940) remained popular. Local rumors claimed that the mansion’s front columns were from the film set of the Gone with the Wind, but those features were components of a temporary stage set. The main plantation house at Tara in the film had four, square, painted brick columns; the eight Kinsey Mansion columns are painted wood and are round. The Tara set was dismantled in 1959 and was shipped to Georgia where some components are on display at the Atlanta History Center.
George Kinsey was a member of various commissions and was best known for spearheading the Los Angeles Sports Arena, which was built in 1959 and was demolished in 2018. A public auditorium and a street in Exposition Park each bear his name. The Kinseys are interred in an imposing Classical Revival style, private family mausoleum at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California.
The interior of the Kinsey Mansion was described during Mr. and Mrs. Kinsey’s stewardship as a “veritable museum of exquisite antiques and rare furniture” in the Los Angeles Times. Over their three-decade ownership period, notable visitors to the mansion included government leaders, financiers and business executives and members of the International Olympic Committee. By 1977, the once sprawling ranch had been reduced to about 500 acres and was transferred to a new owner. The Kinsey Mansion has remained in good condition through the years and is occasionally used for filming.
Neoclassical architecture developed during the Eclectic movement of the early twentieth century. The inception of the Eclectic movement were buildings designed using influences from historic architecture trends. The concept was introduced in 1893 during the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Those architects derived designs from historic sources but executed projects using modern materials and methods. Neoclassical architecture included different subtypes but was primarily distinguished by classical features, simple materials and symmetrical compositions. The Kinsey Mansion is late example of the “full-façade porch” subtype, meaning that the porch runs the length and height of the front elevation. This subtype was most popular between 1925 and 1950.
Contributing features to the historic property include the building’s block-like massing, its modified “broken” entrance pediment, the side wing, end wall brick chimney, its open, two story piazza, the classically-influenced, simple columns and its sloped site, which affords broad views of Quail Lake. The expansive front lawn including the mature trees contribute to the distinctive setting and feeling of the property. Other contributing features include the front lawn with one original angled driveway, the painted wood fence, two sets of fence posts and the gates adjacent to SR-138. Non-contributing elements include the detached garage at the rear of the property and two smaller residential buildings to the east of the main residence. Low stone retaining walls line the slopes on the east side of the residence.
Historical Resources Evaluation Report, State Route 138 Northwest Corridor Improvement Project. State of California, 2015.