Laying Down on the Job

Laying Down on the Job
The Santa Monica Easy

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Santa Monica Sunday

The relatively recently opened Annenberg Community Beach House at 415 PCH, sits atop the footprint of the former Marion Davies Beach House, and is now a public center for beach activity including swimming in the restored original swimming pool for those who prefer a dip in fresh water rather than the Pacific Ocean's salty, sandy and seaweedy wash. By the way, Marion Davies' beach house is a beach house in the same manner as Windsor Castle is the British monarch's vacation getaway from Buckingham Palace.  

Marion Davies' Beach House begun in 1926.
Marion Davies' Beach House was 100+ rooms of opulence, splendor and fun.  I'm learning to be a docent for the Annenberg Community Beach House through the impressive efforts of the Santa Monica Conservancy so I'll know more about this fantastic public recreation center when I complete the training.  For now, it's just fascinating and exciting to be walking the halls where the truly splendid Marion Davies -- as well as other celebrities -- once spent time.  If you live in Santa Monica -- and you appreciate living here -- go and enjoy 415 PCH. I'm pretty sure Marion would have loved the idea this space is still place of family fun (although I wonder if she'd be saddened that the main house was demolished in 1956). 

On March 13, 2011, I walked from my abode on 11th St. to 415 PCH to take the free docent led tour of the Guest House.  There are still some homes of interest built by filmdom's founders in the early 1900's  -- before it became a film industry.  I'm still learning about some of the architects who built spectacular homes along Santa Monica's "Gold Coast" during that time (much to learn, much to retain).  I do know the amazing Julia Morgan -- architect for William Randolph Hearst's Castle -- also designed the Beach House.  

Walking along the bike path on the way to 415 PCH, there are still a few homes from the 1920 era that have not yet been lost to the destructive bent of development. I'll have to call upon my friend Steve Vaught who once walked with me along the beach path and pointed out homes built by Louis B. Mayer, Harry Warner, Samuel Goldwyn, Irving Thalberg & Norma Shearer -- but I'm embarrassed to say I've forgotten which names go to which homes.   
As I recall, the salmon-colored house in the center is a house of interest but I don't recall who makes it "interesting".

I've seen this slightly out of focus home on postcards from the early 1900's but I'll have to go through my collection of Santa Monica post cards to find out who's associated with it (or ask Steve). 

In the sitting room of the Guest House, a lovely fireplace graces the room. I'll bet there's an interesting story behind the female bodied mantel pillars and I'll bet it wasn't originally painted all white. 
Sitting room (fireplace behind me) doors face the ocean.  I find it hard to believe the furniture is representative of what was in the Guest House before the estate's sale in 1947.  The chairs, couch, tables and lamp seem to be left over from the Sea & Sand Hotel which is what the Marion Davies Beach House became after she sold it.

 Photos of one of the two restored bathrooms in the Guest House.

The whimsical, Julia Morgan designed tiles were uncovered under layers of paint and the bathrooms restored to their former glory. This is what Marion Davies' family and friends would have seen when they lived in the Guest House. Unfortunately, my camera's batteries died just as I got to the Guest House and had to resort to my iPhone instead.  The photos just don't do justice to the interior. The square masted ship is a metallic copper color, as are the sea crests and delightful sea creatures.

View from the beach-facing 2nd floor balcony. 
Okay, here's the surprise. There's free wifi here and anyone with a laptop who wants to spend the late morning, early afternoon in one of the Guest House rooms surfing the net instead of the waves, can do so by just showing up when the Guest House is open. 

The Annenberg Community Center is a gem and should be used, admired, loved and appreciated by both Santa Monica residents and the public at large.  The Guest House is a throwback to a more graceful time of architecture and a historic treasure.  Plus, it's fun to imagine Marion Davies walking into the very room in which you're standing.   

I'll take better photos next time. There's much I didn't photograph which deserves to be seen and shared.

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