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Peg Price | all galleries >> Galleries >> Historic Tucson > Ponds Mansion...Stone Ashley
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27 April 2007 Peg Price

Ponds Mansion...Stone Ashley

6400 El Dorado Circle

I went looking for the Ponds Mansion (of cold cream fame and fortune) once again and finally found it nestled back among the trees. I've passed this area many times and had no idea that such a beautiful place existed.

About the only information I can find is this quote from an article about author Harold Bell Wright, a close neighbor: "...Then in 1934, Florence Pond decided to build a mansion on the north side of Speedway across from the Wright home. This house, named Stone Ashley, was completed in 1936 and contained a driveway lined by a long double row of Italian cypress trees, something the desert-loving author probably would have abhorred..." Tucson Weekly article by James L. Sell "The Novelist Who Shaped a City."

Today if you walk up to the front door you see the name Mountain Oyster Club on the door. There are also offices and businesses in the surrounding complex. The Stone Ashley Restaurant also exists here but is it now defunct? When I peeked in the back of the building I could see table with white tablecloths but no mention of the restaurant name.
Does anyone know more about this building's history?

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Noah Snavely 06-Oct-2022 02:12
I remember finding this, to me, hidden gem of a building sometime in the late 1990s, in one of my walks around East Tucson. A few years later, some friends took me to eat at Stone Ashley, the short-lived French restaurant at this building. It seemed to me the fanciest restaurant I could imagine -- a magical memory of a wonderful place.
Guest 06-Oct-2022 02:12
I remember finding this, to me, hidden gem of a building sometime in the late 1990s, in one of my walks around East Tucson. A few years later, some friends took me to eat at Stone Ashley, the short-lived French restaurant at this building. It seemed to me the fanciest restaurant I could imagine -- a magical memory of a wonderful place.
Guest 27-Sep-2017 22:52
Yes it is magnificent BUT (Tante) Florence L. Pond was NOT in any way related to the cold cream family. She made her personal income investing in the stock market.
Mrs. Pond, a family member
Guest 19-Jun-2017 21:01
I worked at the El Dorado in 1976. There was a bar/restaurant to the left of the front named the Golden Bee where I was the bartender. The restaurant was round and had a clear roof where you could view the stars at night. During the day it was covered with what appeared to me to be a parachute. The bar was separated from the restaurant by a curved wall and had the largest most glorious brass cappuccino machine I've ever seen to this day.
Guest 16-Oct-2014 06:05
It used to house a very elegant restaurant called Charles'. I remember going there for my 12th birthday. Both my mother and the wait staff said that the home belonged to French opera singer/Turned Hollywood star, Lily Pons, not the Ponds family, but who knows. It was a gorgeous house inside, they gave us a tour of the upstairs and the back garden.
Ahron 10-Jan-2011 13:07
This is indeed a very special and dark place. Find photos of the original fountain and stonework in the roundabout and you'll see. People have been covering up the history of this house for decades to profit from its elegance. As I am sure this post will be deleted. Whoever is responsible for defacing the fountain and stonework is surely affected by doing so.
Guest 25-Jul-2008 19:31
Fascinating history! I'd like to find the place since I believe the Harold Bell Wright place is just around the corner from me. I would have never known it was there. Thanks for the additional article.
Peg Price25-Dec-2007 01:53
How interesting. I just read that a scene was shot at the top of the old Valley Bank downtown where Robert Wagner tries to shove someone off. He earlier had asked her to meet him at Daniel's Clock. I didn't know so many other places were used. I have the film in my queue at Netflix and am looking forward to looking for Tucson landmarks.
Thanks for the extra history.
TR 24-Dec-2007 22:22
This mansion was used in the original movie "A Kiss Before Dying" with Robert Wagner. There are a lot of old landmarks in that movie including Broadway Village, the UofA and downtown.
This movie used the mansion as the female lead's residence. It shows great views of the desert before Tucson expanded east.
Mohd 29-Oct-2007 16:36
I got this article at

The new home of the Mountain Oyster Club has a long rich history of its own. It was originally built as a home for Miss Florence L. Pond, daughter of a distinguished lawyer in Detroit. The building, called Stone Ashley, was planned by Grosvernor Atterbury, a well-know New York Architect. It was constructed of block and native fieldstone by the M. M. Sundt Construction Company for a price of $67,000. The estate consisted of 318 acres that extended approximately one mile on Speedway and a half mile along Wilmot. Approximately 20 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds surrounded the 17 room residence, the rest was natural desert. Miss Pond made Stone Ashley and the grounds available to service men and other groups in the area during WWII for concerts, other programs and swimming.

In 1947, Miss Pond put the property up for sale with an asking price of $300,000 unfurnished, and eventually sold it for $200,000 including furnishings. After approximately $400,000 in renovations by architect Bernard J. Friedman and the M. I. Poze Construction Company, which included the addition of a third floor to the main building and other building improvements, which would house up to 80 guests, it opened in 1949 as the El Dorado Lodge. Also added at that time, were tennis courts, a heater for the pool, putting greens, badminton courts, shuffleboard courts, horseshoe pitching facilities, an 18 hole golf course, horse stables, corrals and a residential community.
The El Dorado Guest Lodge promoted its self as a place “...where breathless scenery, age-old traditions and the pleasures of today combine...”

It later became the Palm Court Restaurant before being purchased by Charles Kerr, former maitre d’ of the Tack Room Restaurant and opening as Charles Restaurant in 1979. Charles attempted to return the mansion to its original English manor style with slate floors, wonderful fireplaces and a beautiful beamed ceiling. He was also responsible for the addition of a first class kitchen. What had once been elegant guest rooms were now offices for various Tucson businesses. In 1984, an additional 2 story office building was added to the northeast side of the existing buildings, which copied the style and materials of the original structures.

Most recently, for a period of about 2 years the original mansion housed a French restaurant that went by the name of the original home, Stone Ashley.

While many changes have taken place over the years, much hasn’t. You still enter the property by way of the tall Italian Cypress lined road and the original paneled front door of the Pond mansion, believed to have cost $1,500 in 1936. A few of the fruit trees remain from what was a family citrus grove of grapefruit, sour orange and olive trees. To the right of the front entrance, the bath house with 2 dressing rooms still remains although the pool has been replaced with a parking lot. Many of the decorative gardens, fountains and other exquisite touches that made this estate one of the show places of the southwest can still be found inside and out.
Chris 02-Jul-2007 09:09
The Stone Ashley Restaurant closed, and now the building is the Mountain Oyster Club, which used to be on Stone right near the underpass leading out of downtown. The MO club is private, and the only way to eat there is by invitation of one of the members.