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.”