Beverly Hills was incorporated as a city in January 1914, which is why the centennial celebration is now going on.
Scanlon said the Taft story came from the organizers of the Beverly Hills centennial, who mentioned it in their email inviting him to attend last Sunday’s ceremonies.
“They absolutely believe it,” Scanlon said. “Their story is they wanted Beverly Hills to become the permanent summer White House. They were jealous of Beverly, Massachusetts, being the summer White House.”
Others have cast doubt on whether Beverly was the inspiration for the Beverly Hills name at all.
In his 2011 book “Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles,” best-selling author Michael Gross wrote that the Beverly Hills/Beverly, Mass. connection “appears apocryphal.”
Gross wrote that Lee Whittier, a son of one of Beverly Hills’ other founding fathers, Max Whittier, told a family employee years later that the Beverly Hills name was borrowed from “something in Florida.”
There is also a Beverly Hills, Fla., but Gross said there’s no evidence that town was the source of the name, either. The real origin, he wrote, “will probably never be known.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.