Having assembled a design team and begun work on the restoration of the former Marion Davies beachfront estate at 415 PCH, the City of Santa Monica has scheduled two community workshops at which residents will be invited to critique the emerging design.
In the late 1920s, publisher William Randolph Hearst asked Julia Morgan, who designed San Simeon for Hearst, to create an estate for his mistress, actress Marion Davies, on Santa Monica’s Gold Coast.
Morgan was arguably America’s first prominent woman architect and Davies was one of Hollywood’s most accomplished and smartest actresses.
Completed in 1929, the 5.5 acre estate included a 100-room mansion, an Italian marble swimming pool, tennis courts, dog kennels and guest houses. It was the largest and most elaborate estate ever built on the Southern California coast, and a favored Hollywood watering hole.
Davies sold it in the 1950s. It became a hotel, and then the Sand and Sea, a popular beach club.
For many years, the property has been owned by the state of California and managed by the City. In 1989, the City cancelled the Sand and Sea lease and opened the property to the public, but, it was damaged in the 994 Northridge Earthquake, and shut down.
Subsequently, the City Council appointed a 415 Working Group, whose members included Council members Ken Genser and Michael Feinstein. The Group and its consultant developed a plan for the property’s rehab. The plan cost $180,000 and the City Council approved it, but no funds were allocated for the rehab and the plan was shelved.
For several years, the City tried, but failed to raise funds to restore 415, and last year staff recommended to the Council that a private operator be sought to undertake the rehab.
Then, late last year, the Annenberg Foundation awarded a $21 million grant to the City for the property’s rehab, and, on June 28, the City signed a design/build contract with the team of Pankow Special Projects and Fred Fisher Partners.
On Monday, the City set up an “e-workshop” at 415pch.smgov.net. It contains historic information on the site, background information on the revitalization project and gives community members the means to submit their ideas for and comments on the project. All the material that residents post on the site will be forwarded to the design team.
In addition, the City has invited residents to attend the first 415 design team open house on Thursday, July 28, at the Back on the Beach Café, at 445 Pacific Coast Highway, next door to 415, from 4:30 to 7 pm for a tour of the site and an opportunity to speak informally with the design team.
A two day community workshop will be held at the site in early fall.
For more information, or to sign up for the 415 PCH interest list, please visit 415pch.smgov.net, or call Community & Cultural Services at (310) 458-8310.The California State Parks Department is a partner in the project, and additional funding has been provided by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.