|The John Hertz Era
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.
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.
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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