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Annenberg Beach House Celebrates 5 Years

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and MarkHarding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors BureauWhen one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.

By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

April 15, 2014 -- Twenty years after the Northridge earthquake cast doubts on its future, the Annenberg Beach House at the once imperiled Santa Monica site is celebrating its 5th anniversary this month.

The weekend-long community open house that kicks off April 26 will feature a variety of free, family-friendly programs including beach activities and games, ballroom-style dance classes, music, dance performances and tours of the Guest House, among other activities.

“From a morning yoga class, to an interactive bubble making show, or a sunset picnic and screening of silent comedy Show People starring Marion Davies, the celebration offers an exciting array of activities with something for everyone to enjoy,” officials said.

The renovated beach house has a long, rich history of providing entertainment to the rich and poor alike. 

The site has been a hot spot on the city’s Gold Coast ever since the 1920s, when newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst built a 5-acre complex on the estate complete with mansion, tennis courts, swimming pools and guest houses for his mistress, silent-era film starlet Marion Davies.

During the 1930s and ‘40s, Davies and Hearst hosted lavish parties at the mansion, which boasted more than 100 rooms and an ornate marble swimming pool. Among the guests were some of Hollywood’s biggest legends, including Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, Cary Grant and Gloria Swanson.

The property was sold in 1946 and turned into a hotel called Oceanhouse by Joseph Drown, who eventually demolished the large mansion but preserved an original guest house and pool as well as cabanas and a locker building.

It was then sold to the State of California in 1959 and leased to the popular Sand and Sea Club until the City of Santa Monica took over the site in 1989. After a brief period as a seasonal public beach facility, it was severely damaged during the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

The City’s plans to revive the old structure were stalled until 2005, when Wallis Annenberg, who had fond memories of visiting The Sand and Sea Club as a child, learned about the City’s struggle to find funding. 

A $27.5 million Annenberg Foundation grant paved the way for the rehabilitation and reuse of the site, which opened to the public on April 25, 2009.

The 5th anniversary event is free and open to the public. No reservations are required, with the exception of paddleboard lessons, which cost $15 per person and require advance registration.

Registrations are now open.  Patrons can reserve their spots online by visiting www.annenbergbeachhouse.com.

An extremely limited number of parking spaces are available at the Beach House for $3/hour or $12/day on a first come, first served basis. Parking at other City lots south of the Beach House is $10/day, according to officials.

Guests are encouraged to bike or walk to the Beach House. The Beach House is accessible by foot or by bike from the Pacific Coast Bike Trail, which winds along the western edge of the facility.  Free bike valet will be provided.

For more information on the event, visit beachhouse.smgov.net.


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