Modjeska's home, in the Forest of Arden

A quick "before and after" of Helena Modjeska's library at her home at Arden. The image above shows the room around 1900. I shot the matching photo below last year. (I'm told a relative of Modjeska's supplied the replica of the lion table.)
Even if you have zero interest in long-gone stage actresses, there are plenty of good reasons to visit the Modjeska Historic House & Gardens, which is now a County Historical Park. Here are a few of them:

1) It's the only house in the western United States designed by renown architect Stanford White.

2) The grounds and surrounding terrain are beautiful. I'm talking redwood trees, rose gardens, winding trails, fountains, lilacs, and little woodland animals scampering about.

3) Part of the house and some of the surrounding buildings began life as the home of J.E. Pleasants, so it has some great local Old West pioneer history tied to it.

4) It's a good excuse to get out of your usual urban/suburban environment for a while. This would be an appropriate place to point out that Arden is right next door to the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a pretty cool place to explore in its own right.

5) Modjeska was, as Mel Brooks would say, "world famous in Poland," and was also well known throughout the U.S. and Europe. That means she had a lot of famous friends, many of whom came to stay with her from time to time. You may be interested in some of the turn-of-the century celebrities who came to visit.

 6) It's your only chance to see Orange County's first swimming pool. Exciting, no?

7)  Arden is one of only two National Historic Landmarks in Orange County. So you can check it off your list after you visit.

8) The Parks staff in charge of the place are great and really care about this important site. Okay, that's not a reason to visit, but do say hello for me.

To find out more about how and when to visit, see