In 1892, newly arrived from Wisconsin and almost broke, Edward L. Doheny, Sr. struck oil in Los Angeles , setting off a major land boom. In the process, Doheny became one of the richest men in America, and the area became one of the major oil producers in the world.
Doheny was involved in the Elk Hills scandal which led to the conviction of President Harding's Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall on bribery charges. In 1923 Doheny and others had persuaded Fall to lease to them 32,000 acres of federal land near Taft, California. A Senate investigation revealed that Doheny had given Fall a $100,000 loan. Fall was convicted of accepting a bribe, but Doheny, who said it was just a friendly loan, was acquitted of giving one.
The Dohenys became Los Angeles' major philanthropists, often to Catholic organizations. The family provided the funding for the construction of the magnificent St. Vincent de Paul Church in the University Park area in 1925. The Edward L. Doheny, Jr. Memorial Library at USC was constructed in 1932 with a gift of $1.1 million. Mrs. Doheny also gave her rare book collection to St. John's Seminary in Camarillo.
Their home, the Doheny Mansion was in the West Adams district in an exclusive residential park developed by Doheny. After his death in 1935, Mrs. Carrie Estelle Doheny continued to live there until her death in 1958. Her property on Chester Place was deeded to the Catholic Church and is now the Doheny campus of Mount St. Mary's College.