First, some history. In 1928, Will Rogers sold a parcel with two large houses on the beach at the base of the bluffs to William Randolph Hearst, who then gave it to his mistress, Marion Davies. Architect Julia Morgan oversaw the construction of what ultimately became the $7 million, 5-building, 118-room Ocean House.
The Beach House was a hot spot on Santa Monica’s Gold Coast, with Hearst and Davies entertaining luminaries from the Hollywood set, such as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and other stars of the day.
Davies sold the property in 1945 for just $600,000 to a failed attempt at a hotel. Most of the property was torn down in 1958, leaving only the North House with a marble pool and tennis courts.
The property was sold to the State of California in 1959, continuing to operate as the ever-popular Sand & Sea Club under a concession agreement. In the 1990s, the City of Santa Monica ran the facility, known as ’415 PCH,’ until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake severely damaged all structures on site. And there it sat. Finally, in 2006, the City Council finally approved plans for the first ever public beach club, which included the rehabilitation of the property and construction of new facilities. The project was made possible by a generous gift from the Annenberg Foundation. Staff from the Foundation and the City worked with Frederick Fisher Partners, Architects; Charles Pankow Builders; Historic Resources Group; Mia Lehrer & Associates; AdamsMorioka; and Roy McMakin to design and build the new Beach House. The project involved rehabilitation of the historic Marion Davies Guest House and pool, as well as construction of new recreation and event spaces.
OK. So our visit was pretty amazing. We arrived nice and early because we were not able to make a reservation ahead of time, and got a good spot in line.
After we paid admission (expensive, all things considered, at $10 for adults PLUS $12 for parking), we moved into another line…sad face, I want the pool!…but we soon made it inside where I settled myself into a lounge with this view. Happy feet!
The pool itself was not huge, but it was adequate for the space they had. The original tiles that surrounded the pool at the base and the edge had been kept, and were so gorgeous. I wish I had my swim goggles so I could have looked at the bottom ones more closely.
That’s a close-up someone else got, along with the murky pic I took before I left. Lot’s of sunscreen in the water…. Anyway, the entire place was fabulous. I wish I had packed a better lunch than goldfish crackers. There is a cafe nearby but after spending all my cash on the entry and parking, I didn’t have anything left for snacks. I had also forgotten my debit card. Oh well.
As you can see, the pool was right at the beach. So I took the opportunity to dip my toes in another type of water….the ocean! Up until that point, all I had splashed in was a pool.
I ended up sitting there for some time. The breeze off the ocean made the afternoon heat completely bearable, and it was fun to watch everyone having such a great time. This is no glamour shot, but sitting out there with my hat and glasses made me feel like an old timey lady.