By Lookout Staff
April 22 -- Shut down two decades ago and battered by the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, the old Marion Davis estate at 415 PCH will be reborn this weekend as The Annenberg Community Beach House.
The opening Saturday of the new $30 million facility bankrolled with a grant from the Annenberg Foundation will draw hundreds of residents and community activists who fought area homeowners threatening to block the club in court.
Foundation Chairman, President and CEO Wallis Annenberg will help City officials usher in a new era for the beach club, which was once the home of William Randolph Hearst’s paramour, Marion Davis, whose lavish parties drew the biggest names in Hollywood -- Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson.
During the opening day festivities, the original pool with its colorful historic tiles will be christened with a “First Splash” performance from “O™” by Cirque du Soleil®. The festivities will also feature hula dancers, storytellers, tours and activities for both children and adults. A large sandcastle and a flock of kites will celebrate the site’s natural setting.
The Annerberg Beach House is the latest transformation of what is left of the private estate built in the 1920s.
The property was sold in the late 1940’s 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 subsequently sold to the State of California and leased for thirty years 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 hopes to revive the old structure went nowhere until Wallis Annenberg, who had fond memories of visiting The Sand and Sea Club as a child, learned five years ago about the City’s struggle to find funding.
A subsequent $27.5 million Annenberg Foundation grant paved the way for the rehabilitation and reuse of the site, which features volleyball and beach tennis courts, event and meeting space, the Back on the Beach Café, children’s play areas, gardens and an accessible boardwalk extending westward toward the ocean.
The facilities, designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners, Architects, include the rehabilitation of the historic pool and guest house.
Saturday’s event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to walk, bike or shuttle to the opening as no onsite parking will be available. Free shuttle service will be available throughout the day from the Santa Monica Civic Center (4th Street & Olympic Drive, just off the 10 freeway).
For More Information on The Annenberg Community Beach House: Visit beachhouse.smgov.net