Phone:       (909) 556-1099


Demens -Tolstoy Estate

9686 Hillside Road

Alta Loma

California 91737


© 2009-2012 Dennis Parker


Historic Demens-Tolstoy Estate

Standing alone among stately trees on Hillside Road, where it has stood like a sentinel for over one hundred years, the majestic edifice known as the Demens­-Tolstoy house, is a living memorial to the past. With rows of grapevine adorning the foreground and with green mountainside and blue sky for a background, it presents a striking picture, although the grapevines are now gone.

The historically rich three-story structure is a landmark of the area. The "ranch house", as it was affectionately known, was once the center of a thriving 300 acre ranch which produced an abundance of citrus fruit, grapes and hay. Citrus demanded a lot of water which was abundantly provided for the ranch primarily by a number of tunnels (horizontal wells) dug into the side of the mountain, from which water was piped by gravity flow to waiting reservoirs for distribution. The seven or more tunnels supplying water for this ranch were hand dug mostly by Chinese railroad laborers who had

from Russia in a run for his life - just steps ahead of the pursuing revolutionaries.

   Tolstoy was a nephew of the noted Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, best known to many for his classic "War and Peace". He emigrated to America, where he met and married Vera Demens, daughter of Peter Demens. After the death of her father, Vera Tolstoy and her sister Inns, who lived with

the family until her death, inherited the property, and the large house has since been known as the Demens-Tolstoy house.

Tolstoy spent a lot of time in Hollywood, where he had become a well-known and successful technical advisor to the moving picture industry. However, he managed to host a large number of gala affairs at the Alta Loma house, where numerous celebrities mixed with local citizens and other guests.


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become available for work after construction of the railroad line from east to west had been completed.

   In its early years, the house was the setting for many festive parties which provided an opportunity for host Peter Demens, a former member of Tsarist Russia's Imperial Guard, and other members of White Russia's nobility, to rub shoulders with the local gentry.

Demens (Piotr Dementieff), a member of the Russian nobility and a captain in the Tsar's Imperial Guard, emigrated to America in 1880. He eventually settled in this area and purchased the Alta Loma property.

The exciting times and gala affairs continued in later years when Hollywood celebrities and a variety of other guests were entertained at lavish parties by Andre Tolstoy, another former member of Russian nobility.

In 1917, Tolstoy, a cavalryman in the Imperial Guard, made a hasty departure


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Demens - Tolstoy Estate