This week’s house turns 100 this year but may only have a few weeks or days left so you may want to walk by it before it goes. It is one of the oldest remaining homes in CdM and very likely the oldest on the inland side of PCH. It was likely one of the first homes ever built on that side of PCH as much of the early development in the area centered around the Bluffs and was not that far back. It was listed as a 1 bed, 1 bath, 730 sq ft house.
Inspired by Chris Jepsen's presentation on OC Tiki at the Orange Community Historical Society Annual Dinner, I thought I'd look for some information on the history of tiki establishments in Corona del Mar.
There were a lot of tiki places that came up in the search but the one that caught my eye was the Jamaica Inn, which also had Christian's Hut, a classic tiki restaurant inside of it. It was located just down the street from me at the corner of Avocado and PCH where there is now a rather sterile looking medical office complex. It likely extended over to the office building that has Shape Up in it, as well. The difference between the two is rather stark.
This 1923 cottage is likely one of the five oldest surviving houses in Corona del Mar and retains a great original look and tons of charm. It pre-dates the Pacific Coast Highway coming through Corona del Mar by three years and was built a year before CdM became part of Newport Beach. At the time, road access and access to running water were both very difficult so there were very few residential homes in CdM.
Even by 1930, when the aerial photo was taken, you can see it was still quite sparse and this was several years after PCH and reliable residential water service came to CdM. This 2BR/2BA cottage is currently for sale and a recent price drop moved it to $2.69M. Hope to see someone buy this beautiful historic cottage and enjoy it for many more years.
As a blizzard moves across rest of the country, it is a good time to remember that the last snowfall in Corona del Mar was 71 years ago, this month. On the night of January 10, 1949, snow started to fall and continued into the 11th.
Anaheim and Orange received 3 inches of snow and it was recorded at 4 inches at the Irvine Ranch. The temperature in Orange County remained in the 20s for the next few days.
This 1939 cottage located a few houses from 'Big Corona' Beach was expanded out the back starting in the 1950s but it has maintained an original look from the street with its cedar shake roof and siding. Inside, the living room has dramatic exposed beams set off by a vintage wallpaper. It was listed as over 3,400 square feet with 3 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and 4 fireplaces when it was sold in 2017 for $3.4M.
Photo credit: MLS
Wondering what house was the first in Corona del Mar? Well, the Burton Family's 'Happy House' (2920 Ocean Blvd.) is credited as the first as it went up in 1909 but 'Quarterdeck' (2928 Ocean Blvd.) went up shortly after. The LA Times wrote about Happy House in a 1993 story:
Lured by an advertisement to “beautiful Newport Beach,” Mary Everett and Alice Aldon took a free ride on the Red Car in search of a summer retreat from sizzling Pasadena. They were appalled at what they found--a seaside hamlet filled with fishermen, canneries and saloons--but entranced by the bare cliffs of Corona del Mar. On a whim, they bought a parcel of land.
That was in 1908.
“There were no roads, there were no semblances of roads, they just plowed through the tall grass,” recalled Mary Burton, Everett’s daughter, who still lives in the house her mother built. “When she saw the view of the beach from up here, she just said, ‘Eureka!’ ”
But Burton’s father was horrified.
“ ‘My dear, I’m afraid you’ve thrown your money away,’ ” Burton, 89, remembers her father telling her mother. Of course, Burton added, “the family never made any investment as good as this.”
She was right - the house sold for $4.5M in 2003 and sadly was torn down to make room for this house that seems to resemble an office building - seen here next to Quarterdeck in 2011:
Listed in the city’s register of historic landmarks, “Happy House,” the Cape Cod-style grayish brown shingle house with redwood floors and walls, stands today almost identical to the way it appeared when it was built--by 22 workmen in just two weeks--back in 1909.
The porch, with a view clear to Capistrano, has since been enclosed in glass. And the Burtons added French doors off the dining room.
“He got a good stiff drink, grabbed an ax, and chopped a hole in the wall,” Burton recalled of her husband, who died 18 years ago. “And there, we’ve got those windows, just like we wanted.”
'Happy House' (right) alongside 'Quarterdeck' (left):
It is the memories, Burton said, that make the house a treasure.
Burton still nurtures her garden daily and cooks dinner for herself most nights, though someone comes to trim the hedges and someone else visits biweekly to run a dust cloth around. She can no longer handle the 15 steps to the bedrooms, so she installed an electric chair along the railing to tote her up and down.
But Burton scoffs at the idea of selling the house--she doesn’t even know what it’s worth.
“I’m just happy as a clam sitting right here,” she said. “I’m just going to stay right here as long as the Lord lets me.”