Buzz Spotlight: Patrick Brown and the Getty House

Patrick Brown in front of the Getty House on Irving Bl, Los Angeles' official mayoral residence.
Patrick Brown in front of the Getty House on Irving Bl, Los Angeles’ official mayoral residence.

The second largest city in the country means a busy mayor,  and a busy mayor means an active mayoral residence with a full calendar of events.  Expertly managing that home for L.A.’s mayors is Patrick Brown – who makes it all work from his second-story garage office overlooking the one acre Windsor Square estate.  The elegant property has served as the formal residence of the L.A. City Mayor for the last 38 years in a unique partnership between the City and Getty House Foundation. Brown was hired in August 2009 from a fundraising and non-profit management background, to oversee the residence and the non-profit activities of the Getty House Foundation.

The Tudor Revival edifice on Irving Blvd at 6th Street has steadily evolved since built in 1921.  Notable residents included the Barrymores, and Lee Strasberg during the house’s later years as a rental property.  In 1975 under Tom Bradley’s term, Getty Oil Company donated the house to the City (hence the current name “Getty House”).  A major renovation ensued under Mayor Riordan through the Getty House Restoration Fund chaired by Nancy Daly in 1993-95.  The rose garden was renovated about ten years ago, followed by the sunken blue garden three years ago, which restored the yard to its original 1928 design by A.E. Hanson.  Planned by the Hancock Park Garden Club working with the City, the garden was re-designed to be historically accurate but eco-friendly, with the DWP advising on water-conservation.  Parts of the three-story, 8,000 square foot house are currently under improvement again.

As Executive Director of the Getty House Foundation, Brown manages the residence,  grounds and schedule of events, which are a mix of official mayoral functions and affairs sponsored by the Getty House Foundation and other local entities. Events under Mayor Villaraigosa included the “Salon L.A.” series, hosted by such names as Rob Reiner and Michelle Kwan, on contemporary issues of significance to Angelenos.

If Brown has to pick a favorite event, it is the annual L.A. Consulate Corps reception with about 250 attendees from around the world.  “You’re proud of your country, you’re proud of your city,” Patrick describes the distinguished affair. Brown also loves the annual plant sale of the Hancock Park Garden Club and the Windsor Square Historical Society’s garden party.

“Very sincere and very caring” is how Brown describes Mayor Garcetti. Having seen many politicians come through the house during his four year tenure, Brown can sense authenticity. “Garcetti  is just genuinely the nicest man,” Brown confirms. Wife Amy Wakeland (a philanthropist/activist/public policy expert) “knows what she’s doing,” according to Patrick. It still remains to be seen whether the Garcettis (who met while both were Rhodes Scholars) will move into the home following the present renovations ending next month – but one of Garcetti’s first orders of business, his first day in office, was to reach out to the neighbors with a reception. Shortly thereafter Garcetti hosted local Southland mayors. The Garcetti’s currently reside in the Silver Lake hills with their toddler daughter, Maya.

Brown stands in the house's library where a wood section of the home has recently been repaired.
Brown stands in the Getty House library where sections of the wood paneling have been repaired.

The professional, discreet Brown couldn’t be better suited to his position. Working closely with the City’s Office of Protocol, he runs the affairs of the Getty House with the diplomacy and good humor required of someone having to balance the concerns of the First Family and visiting dignitaries– but also 8 year olds looking for the restroom. Besides acting as a non-profit executive, a plant manager and construction manager, Brown speaks to school groups weekly, as part of the Foundation’s educational mandate.

Third, fourth and fifth graders visit the residence regularly on field trips where Brown gives them a tour and civic lesson. Despite frequently meeting VIPs, it was the school-tour duties that made the normally-poised Brown most anxious at first. Now he speaks respectfully of the many LAUSD children who may have never had the opportunity before to visit such a beautiful home, and of his duty to make them feel welcome in the Mayor’s Official Residence. He paints a charming picture of elementary students munching on their brown-bag lunches on the grass in the same backyard where diplomats have feted. The Getty House Foundation is committed to building up the City and the next generation through such initiatives as its Civic Education Grants and City of Angels Awards.

Brown, who lives in Studio City with his partner, spends his free time baking and canning – belying his small-town upbringing and close family ties. (He’s a southwest Oklahoma native who studied music.). But the exacting concern for proper etiquette and order which makes Brown so good at his job, comes out when he explains that the jar labels for his jams and bread-and-butter pickles must all be positioned in perfect alignment.

To learn more about the Getty House Foundation, its Board of Directors and many programs, visit www.gettyhouse.org, or phone (323) 930-6430.

 

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About Renee Montgomery

Renee Montgomery began researching historic men's waistcoats at LACMA in 1979 as an intern, and is still at the museum as an Assistant Director in administration. She's written for various local media and museum publications, focusing on 'small town pockets' in urban L.A. She resides in Lafayette Square and has one daughter, a professional ballet dancer. Having never lost her zeal for her 'aggie' San Gabriel Valley/Riverside upbringing, Renee currently sells citrus and homegrown produce to support dog rescue efforts.

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