The John Hertz Era
When John D. Hertz, a prominent tycoon, discovered Cary in the 1920s, he quietly pieced together three or four placid farms to create an estate on the banks of the Fox River. He called it Leona Farms, named for one of his daughters. He built mansions, barns, and support buildings, all befitting his financial status and his desire to be a "gentleman horse farmer". He also had famed landscape architect Jens Jensen design an intricate series of ponds and streams to provide fishing and drainage.

On the grounds, Hertz raised race horses and polo ponies. His guests were the rich and famous, including many top stars from Hollywood and politicians. In residence at Leona Farms was the Kentucky Derby winner of 1928, Reigh Count, whose private stable and groom's residence in still intact as a private home in Trout Valley. Reigh Count fathered and grandfathered two more derby winners, Count Fleet (1943) and Count Turf (1951). Hertz also constructed a polo facility and his guests were able to play within sight of the Fox River.

Hertz meticulously maintained his land. He cherished the rolling hills, giant oaks, and gushing springs. Whether it pleased his many notable guests or agreed with his own lifestyle, his interest in its natural beauty led to the preservation of the grounds as we see them today. 
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