In the late 1920s, publisher William Randolph Hearst, then one of the most powerful men in America, ordered a Santa Monica beachfront estate for his mistress, Marion Davies, one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood. With over 100 rooms, guest houses, a swimming pool, tennis courts and dog kennels, it was the most elaborate estate ever built on the beach town’s famed Gold Coast.
In the 1940s, Davies sold it, and it became a hotel. The State purchased the property in 1960, and the City managed it, leasing the remains of the estate to a private beach club, the Sand & Sea Club. In the late 1980s, the City canceled the lease and operated the property as a public beach facility until it was damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and shut down.
For a decade, the fate of the property remained in limbo, Then, late last year a $21 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation made a $21 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation enabled the City to begin the resurrection of the fabled property.
In June, a design-build contract was awarded to a team headed by Frederick Fisher Architects. The team met with the community at a July workshop.
Goals were drafted. The 415 PCH project will, in the City’s words, “preserve the history of the site, encourage a ‘light touch’ on the site, create a community-oriented destination, provide public recreational activities, increase public access to the beach, create a range of uses, encourage diverse users, provide year-round use, and link to the regional open space network.”
Over the weekend, a two-day community workshop was held 415 PCH, at which residents met again with the design team, held group discussions, and the architects gave residents their first look at the preliminary designs.Next week: The story of the workshop and residents’ responses to the preliminary design.