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Modjeska House facts for kids

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Modjeska House
Madame Helena Modjeska
in the garden at "Arden"
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Location 29042 Modjeska Canyon Road
Modjeska, California
Area 14 acres (57,000 m2)
Built 1888
Architect Stanford White
Architectural style Queen Anne
NRHP reference No. 72000244
Quick facts for kids
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 11, 1972
Designated NHL December 14, 1990

Modjeska House, also known as Arden, is a house designed by Stanford White in Modjeska Canyon, California. It is significant for being the only surviving home of Helena Modjeska, a Shakespearean actress and Polish patriot. The property is located in a live oak grove on the banks of Santiago Creek in Modjeska Canyon, California.


Modjeska came to America with her husband Count Karol Bozenta Chłapowski in 1876 from Poland, and created a retreat for when she was not performing on stage. To design a large Victorian country house, she hired one of America's leading architects, Stanford White. They named it "Arden" after the forest setting of Shakespeare's play As You Like It and planted gardens with olive trees, palms, English yews, white lilac, and crown of thorns. It was their home from 1888 until 1906.

Post-Modjeska years

After the property was sold, the romance associated with Modjeska's life attracted developers who marketed parcels of the property for vacation homes. In 1908, Gustave A. Schweiger bought the home and operated it as a bed and breakfast. In 1922, local Rotary groups discussed buying the property to use as a country club. In 1923, the Walker family of Long Beach purchased parcels of land in the canyon that included the Modjeska house and its surrounding wooded area.

Historic site

Modjeska House was declared a California Historical Landmark in 1935.

In 1986, the Orange County Harbors, Beaches and Parks Authority purchased the 14.4-acre property for $1 million and established it as a historical site. A major restoration occurred before the site could be opened to the public. The original house had no indoor plumbing or utilities. A limited number of visitors are allowed on tours. Directions to the park are given after making reservations.

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990.


Marker at the site reads:

  • Famous as the home of Madame Modjeska, one of the world's great actresses, it was designed by Stanford White in 1888 on property called the Forest of Arden. Sold soon after her retirement, it remains a monument to the woman who contributed immeasurably to the cultural life of Orange County. Erected by California State Park Commission. (Marker Number 205.)


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