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Which historic hotel is home to the second largest Moreton Bay Fig Tree in America?

Upon arrival at the Fairmont Miramar, guests are welcomed by a horticultural marvel that’s impossible to miss: the magnificent Moreton Bay Fig Tree. Standing at 80 feet tall with a 120-foot network of branches shading the circle below, this iconic natural landmark with its tangled above-ground roots and leathery dark green leaves is a sight to behold.

Fig Tree

The Moreton Bay Fig Tree, then (right) and now (left).

The story of how the tree came to be in such an unlikely place begins with Nevada Senator John Percival Jones, the founder of Santa Monica who built the original Miramar as a family mansion in the late 1800s. According to hotel lore, a group of Australian sailors docked at Santa Monica had stacked up quite the bar tab at a local saloon. Unable to pay their bill, they gave the saloon owner a sapling from the Australian ficus family in lieu of payment. The owner, who was a close friend of the Jones family, then gave the sapling to Georgina Jones, the wife of Senator John P. Jones.

Historic Image of Georgina Jones

Georgina Jones, wife of United States Senator John P. Jones, at Miramar Mansion.

Raised in France, Georgina was a style icon known for the lavish parties and literary soirees that put Santa Monica on the map. Her charisma and charm drew cultural luminaries to Miramar, including Mark Twain and Susan B. Anthony. However, Georgina was also known for her green thumb and passionate respect for nature. A gifted herbalist and student of plant medicine, friends would find her with her fingers thick in the dirt, planting herbs and fruit trees in her garden or dispensing herbal tonics and elixirs from her kitchen or the Potting Shed, which has carried through at Miramar to this day. As a botanist who loved gardening, Georgina not only installed a rose garden on property but had the Moreton Bay Fig Tree planted right near the entrance to Miramar, where it has remained ever since.

Historic Image of Georgina Jones and FIG Restaurant

Left: FIG Restaurant. Right: Georgina Jones standing in her garden at Miramar Mansion.

More than 140 years have passed since then, and the tree has grown to be the second largest of its kind in the United States. In 1976, it was even declared a historic landmark by the Santa Monica Landmark’s Commission. To this day, figs still grow on the tree, though they’re ornamental so guests will not find them on the menu at FIG, the Fairmont Miramar’s signature restaurant. However, a new dining experience named for the gardener herself is coming to the Fairmont Miramar in 2022. Georgina’s will be an intimate Agave Lounge, Salon and Gardened Ocean Terrace where guests can participate in cultural and artistic events and enjoy stimulating conversation over hand-crafted cocktails.

This has been a Historic Hotels History Mystery.
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Question: Which historic hotel is home to the second largest Moreton Bay Fig Tree in America?

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