Modjeska House

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.

Modjeska House
Madame Helena Modjeska
in the garden at "Arden"
Location29042 Modjeska Canyon Road
Modjeska, California
Area14 acres (57,000 m2)[1]
ArchitectStanford White
Architectural styleQueen Anne
NRHP reference #72000244
CHISL #205
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 11, 1972[2]
Designated NHLDecember 14, 1990[3]
Designated CHISL1935[4]


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. From 1908 to 1923 Gustave A. Schweiger bought and operated the home as a resort, a B & B. In 1923, the Walker family of Long Beach purchased prime parcels in the canyon that included the Modjeska house and its surrounding wooded area.[5]

Historic site

Modjeska House was declared a California Historical Landmark in 1935.[4]

In 1986, the Orange County Harbors, Beaches and Parks Authority purchased the 14.4-acre property for $1 million[6] 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.[7]

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990.[1][3]

The property is located in a live oak grove on the banks of Santiago Creek in Modjeska Canyon, California.


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.)[8]

See also



  1. James H. Charleton (June 16, 1990). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Forest of Arden / Arden / Modjeska House / Modjeska County Park" (pdf). National Park Service. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying photos, exterior and of Helen Modjeska and others, from 1988, c.1893 and undated (1.00 MB)
  2. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  3. "Modjeska House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-11-18.
  4. "Modjeska House". Office of Historic Preservation, California State Parks. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
  5. Modjeska House & Gardens OCParks Commission, retrieved on November 18, 2007.
  6. Logan, Dan (April 1990). "Once in Arden". Orange Coast Magazine: 106, 107, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113.
  7. "Arden" - Helena Modjeska Historic House and Gardens, Orange County Parks, retrieved on June 26, 2016.
  8. Marker Database Home of Madame Modjeska, 205
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