By Madeline Renn
From the art, to the history, to the gardens, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a place of sophisticated elegance. The Huntington’s opulence then lends itself aptly to a tradition as old as some of the art: a black-tie ball.
The inaugural Huntington Ball was held in 1974 for members of the Society of Fellows. The Society was established a year prior as a donor group to support The Huntington’s research and educational programs. To this day, the Ball is dedicated to supporting The Huntington’s programs.
The black-tie gala was not meant to be an annual event, but popularity soon made it one. The 1974 Ball was held inside The Huntington Art Gallery, the Beaux Arts mansion that was originally home to the founders, Henry and Arabella Huntington. However, the gala moved outdoors as the guest list grew.
In 1989, the Arabella Ball was held in honor of the lady of the house’s birthday at the request of the under-40 Huntington Society of Junior Fellows. A reincarnated “Arabella” made an appearance at her gala, thanking attendees for “your support…we both usually have a quiet celebration of my birthday in the mausoleum, so this is a treat.” The Junior Fellows ended the night with Arabella’s birthday cake and a chorus of happy birthday.
The Huntington Ball and Arabella Ball were merged into a single, annual black-tie affair several years later. In 2012, invitations were extended to all Huntington members, and now all are invited to attend.
The Ball is chaired by a prominent local community member or family who actively supports the institution. This year’s chairs are Lynda and Blaine Fetter. In addition, Laura Skandera Trombley will be celebrating a year as The Huntington’s President.
The sold-out Huntington Ball will be held on Sept. 10 and is sure to be another beautiful evening of elegance and grandeur, framed by history and art.