Friday, September 19, 2014

San Clemente-Casa Romantica

If you are visiting San Clemente, this is a beautiful, historical house to visit with a beautiful view of the ocean!

In 1969, President Richard Nixon bought part of the H.H. Cotton estate, which was one of the original homes built by one of Hanson's partners.  President Nixon called it "La Casa Pacifica".  The house sits above one of the West Coast's premier surfing spots, known as "Trestles".  After Mr. Nixon resigned, he retired to San Clemente to write his memoirs.  He sold the home in 1980.

The following is a link to Casa Romantica for times to visit:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Temecula-History and things to see

Father Juan Norberto de Santiago was the first white man to set foot in the Temecula Valley in October, 1797.  He was on an expedition from Mission San Juan Capistrano, seeking a site for a new mission.  His exploration party consisted of seven soldiers and himself and they headed to what is now Lake Elsinore, then south through the Temecula Valley and on to the ocean.  Father Juan Santiago established a rancho at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, CA and in 1810 returned to Mexico.

Lake Elsinore

Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside, CA

In 1821, Jose Sanchez, a Franciscan priest, recorded that he had accompanied Mariano Payeras, prefect of the missions, on a visit to Temecula.  It was during this period that the Pala Mission was built andChristianization of the Native Americans began.  

In 1831, some American trappers rode into the valley, consisting of Ewing Young, Isaac Galbraith and John Turner.  In 1845, Rancho Temecula was granted to Felix Valdez.  

In January, 1847, a massacre took place in a nearby canyon.  This canyon is just below the present site of the Vail Lake Dam and was the scene of the bloodiest battle of the Mexican war.  During this time, the Temecula Indians decided to capture eleven Mexican soldiers, whom they later executed at a place now known as Warner Springs.  The Mexicans went after the Temeculans, with the help of the Cahuilla Indians, who had been wanting to settle a score with Temeculans over some previous skirmishes.  The Temeculans were killed and buried in a common grave, which is still visible from Highway 79.  

Juan Flores was a leader of a gang of outlaws, who killed a storekeeper in San Juan Capistrano, as well as in Temecula.  With some help from Manuilito Chapalac, he hid out near Santiago Peak, where he and his remaining followers, who by that time had killed the Los Angeles County Sheriff and were captured by posses from El Monte and San diego.  Juan Flores escaped and this triggered the greatest manhunt in California.  He was finally captured in Simi Pass, which is north of Los Angeles.  On February, 21, 1857, the Los Angeles jailer surrendered him to a mob and Juan Flores was hung on a street of the town.  

The Butterland Stage Route was headed eastbound from San Francisco and stopped for a change of horses in Temecula during the night of September 18, 1858.  On board were the drivers and G. Bailey, who was the special agent for the Post Office Department.  The stage stopped at the Magee store over the next three weeks, two stages each week for horses and drivers to be changed.  Passengers were served food and were able to refresh themselves.  The Butterfield Stage lasted less than three years; however other stages and routes served Southern California beyond the Butterfield Stage era.  

The stages brought new settlers to the area and mail became an important link with the rest of the country.  On April 22, 1859, the first inland Southern California post office was established in Temecula in the Magee store.  

This was the second post office in the state; the first being located in San Francisco.  The Temecula post office has moved a number of times.  The current location is the seventh and eighth sites it has occupied.  

Another migration reached Temecula Valley, that was brought on by the discontent of the Civil War.  It was also during this time that the Mormon March, which was the longest military march in United States history,  passed through Temecula on the way to San Diego.  

A rail line was completed between National City and Temecula in January, 1882.  Regular service started two months later and local residents had good access to San Diego.  The rail service provided a minor business boom with several new stores being built.  The line was extended to San Bernardino in 1883.  there was a series of floods during the 1880's, which washed out tracks.  The railroad was abandoned and the Temecula station wound up as a barn and was later demolished.  

Granite stone quarries made a comeback in the 890's and Temecula granite was shaped into fence and hitching posts, curb stones, courthouse steps and building blocks.  Many of the fence posts and curbstones can still be seen in Temecula, Riverside and San Francisco.

At the turn of the century, Temecula gained a place of importance as a shipping point for grain and cattle.  Temecula became a cowtown, as cattle drives from the cow country took place.  

Walter L. Vail had migrated to California with his parents and in 1904, along with various partners began buying vast acreages in Southern California.  Vail was already a cattle rancher on a grand scale before he started buying ranch land in the Temecula Valley.  In 1906, Vail was run over by a street car in Los Angeles.  His son took over the family ranch.  

Mahlon Vail and other local ranchers in 1914, financed the First National Bank of Temecula.  

In 1915, the first paved two lane county road was built through Temecula.  

The late 1920's-1930's brought more interesting events to Temecula, including murders, a bank robbery, a flood and visits by Hollywood celebrities.  Prize fighters Jack Dempsey and Jack Sharkey worked out in a makeshift ring on the second floor of the old Welty building over the Blind Pig Saloon and some moon whinging was conducted in the surrounding hills.  

Vail Ranch, by 1947, contained approximately 87,500 acres.  The Vail family had dreamed of building a dam, which would catch Temecula Creek.  In 1948, to the tune of more than $1 Million, the dam was completed and created Vail Lake.  

During the 1960's, the Old West lifestyle continued in Temecula with the clientele of the Swing Inn, the Long Branch Saloon and the Stables bar being mainly ranchers, cowboys and Indians.  

Swing Inn

In December, 1964, the Vail Ranch was sold to Kaiser Development Company and launched the transformation of the Temecula Vally.  Sale activity switched from cattle, hay and grain to subdivided real estate acreage.  The area became known as Rancho California.  One side effect of the high profile development was a real estate boom in land suitable for avocado groves and grape vineyards on the east side of the valley.

The Long Branch Saloon was converted to a meeting house and the Stables Bar became the site for retail stores.  The Swing Inn still remains, as seen in the picture above.

The I-15 was completed in the early 1980's; which became a corridor from Los Angeles County to San Diego. Rancho California incorporated in December, 1989 and the citizens voted to officially name the city, Temecula.

Saint Catherines Catholic Church

Hotel Temecula

The Pugol School House

The Bank

The Mercantile Building

Temecula is an awesome place to go for wineries in Southern California.  Winemaking made its debut in California at Mission San Juan Capistrano by the Mission padres.  The first modern commercial vineyard in the Temecula Valley was established in 1968 by Vincenzo and Audry Cilurzo.

The Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival is held annually on the first weekend of June at Lake Skinner Recreation Area.  The event features morning balloon launches, evening balloon glows, wine tasting from more than 20 wineries, wine competition, food and wine pairing, concerts, giant arts and craft fair, kids fair and fine art paintings on exhibit.

Other places and things to are the Temecula Valley Polo Club, the Temecula International Film Festival held annually in September and championship golf courses.  Other industries that contribute to the economy are education, health care, leisure, professional, finance and retail.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Corona del Mar-Let's go to the movies at the Port Theater

The Port Theater on Coast Highway used to be a movie theater where you could bring your own food and tickets cost $1.49.  Imagine $1.49 to go to a movie!

In 1949, Ted and Peggy Jones of the Western amusement Company opened the Port Theater.  In 1950, the theater featured "The Greatest show on Earth" and there was a live elephant on stage.  From 1975-1985, the theater featured French, Italian and Japanese films.  In 1985, a couple got married on stage.  From 1989 to 1998, the building was an Art House featuring Indie documentaries and foreign films.

Unfortunately, in 1998, Port Theater close due to a combination of newly built multiplexes and a lack of public parking.  The Port remained closed for over a decade.  It went through multiple owners and was nearly remodeled into office space and shops.  Local residents formed a group called "Save the Port" in an attempt to raise money and reopen the Port, but the lack of profit and financial cost of renovating the worn down theater were too high for most investors to consider.  In 2007, the former owner obtained a permit for demolition.  Fortunately, the demolition was cancelled, wen an investor saw the potential and assumed the responsibility of reviving its name and transformed the building into a modern day theater unlike any other.

The theater reopened in 2012.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Corona del Mar-an historical place to eat-Five Crowns, a place to walk-Goldenrod Footbridge and cupcakes at Sprinkles

Now that you have explored Corona del Mar, I will introduce you to a place to eat with ghosts; a place to walk with history and a place to get something sweet to eat.

Five Crowns is an elegant restaurant with a ghostly history. I have been to this restaurant a few times and never seen anything.   The ghosts usually come out during the holidays.  Rose Stone, a manager at the the article was written in the "Corona del Mar Today" stated that she saw a man in black holding onto a string of colored lights, but the bulbs between his out-stretched hands were dark and then he disappeared.

Other employees have seen faces in the powder room mirrors, wine glasses shatter for no reason, while sitting on trolleys and have seen a ghostly lady in the garden area during dinner service.

A young couple were sitting on the patio and saw a vision of two people across the garden.  After seeing the vision, they paid their bill and left in a hurry.  One of  the chefs was locked mysteriously inside a walk-in freezer.  The wine captain was locked out of his wine room.  While the wine room was locked, he heard a knocking and when police arrived to open the door, no one was there.

Other strange things that happen are that lights go on suddenly, the eyes of a portrait seem to follow you around the room, things move and images have been reported in the garden, the kitchen and the upstairs ladies room.  There are thumps and bumps heard all over the place.  The strange things that happen are not evil; just friendly and mischievous.

According to company sources, Five Crowns was built in 1936 and was modeled after an old English inn, known as Ye Olde Bell at Hurley-On-thames.  A mother and daughter lived there for four years.  In 1940, two Los Angeles business men leased the building for use as a restaurant, but Corona del Mar was so remote and the partners disagreed about permitting diners to gamble, that after three years, the restaurant closed and the mother and daughter returned and opened the building as Hurley Bell Inn.  In the mid-1940's, the inn became a hideaway for Hollywood stars.

In 1948, the mother passed away and the daughter leased the building.  The Hurley Bell began to attain a dubious reputation and in 1964 the building was purchased by Lawry's Restaurant Company and Five Crowns opened in April, 1965.  The daughter passed away in 1990.

Some recent ghost happenings include the manager being in an upstairs dining area preferred by the lady ghost.  There were no fans or air conditioning blowing and a table cloth was moving like a water flowing.  Another happening was when the manager was upstairs in an employees area, when there were knocks from an outside wall, where there is a roof.  The Side Door's manager has reported feeling someone patting her hair during the evenings, just gently smoothing it down.

Go enjoy a Corona del Mar landmark with friends!

Now that you have had a nice meal at Five Crowns, let's go take a walk.  There is a 1.72 mile walking trail that I found on Corona del Mar walking trails that includes several of the streets in Corona del Mar and an historical bridge called the Goldenrod Footbridge.  The Goldenrod Footbridge was built in August, 1928 to provide easier access to the beach.  The 243 foot bridge stretches over Bayside Drive and is flower covered.

Now let's go get dessert at Sprinkles Cupcakes

Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream is located in a shopping center at the corner of MacArthur Blvd. and Coast Highway.

In 2002, Candace and her husband Charles Nelson visited Candace's sister in New York and tried cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery.  Candace decided it was time for cupcakes to come out of the shadows of a cake and become something that people could eat every day, rather than just for special occasions.    Candace had started a custom cake business after attending Tante Marie's Pastry Program in San Francisco.

The Nelson's pursued their dream; even though a cupcake bakery was a "high risk" venture and the bakery business was in a four year "no carb" decline.  the store was designed by an architect from Vienna and was sleek and minimalistic.  The logo and packaging was created by a former Martha Stewart employee.  On April 13, 2005, the first Sprinkles store opened on Little Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills.  The first day, the cupcakes sold out in three hours, and 2000 cupcakes were sold the first week.

There are 12 locations throughout the United States and plans to open 15 more are in the works; including London and Tokyo.  In 2013, a branch was opened in Kuwait.

There is a traveling "Sprinklesmobile" and in 2007 the company developed a line of cupcake mixes, which sell in their stores and William-Sonoma stores in the United States and Canada.  In February, 2011, Sprinkles released an iPhone app that features free cupcakes and virtual gifting.

On March 6, 2012, Sprinkles Cupcakes opened a cupcake ATM in Beverly Hills.  Then one was opened in Chicago and one in Dallas.  You can get cupcakes and doggie cupcakes 24 hours a day.  the machine is restocked throughout the day and holds up to 600 cupcakes at a time.

On May 24, 2012, Sprinkles opened Sprinkles Ice Cream in Beverly Hills and in 2013, they opened the store in Corona del Mar and Dallas.  The shop serves unique flavors and carries a cookie line with a modern twist on traditional flavors.

Sprinkles offers nationwide shopping and have a traveling ice cream cart.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

To the beach-Corona del Mar

Since Corona del Mar is on the coast, of course there have to be beaches.  Corona del Mar has three beaches.  One is Big Corona which features surf, cliffs, a jetty and a variety of activity from surfing and skim boarding to volleyball.  Little Corona is a quiet little paradise; where the best attraction are the tide pools.

The other beach is at Crystal Cove State Park, which has 3.2 miles of beach and 2400 acres of undeveloped woodland, which is popular for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking.  The beach is popular for scuba divers, swimmers and surfers.

In 1837, the first grant of land on which Crystal Cove State Park is located was awarded to Jose Andres Sepulveda.  Sepulveda sold Rancho San Joaquin to James Irvine and his partners in 1864.

In 1876, Irvine bought out his partners, when the company's ranching efforts failed due to droughts, wool infestations and competitive markets.

Between the 1910's and 1920's, the motion picture companies discovered the isolated cove at the mouth of Los Trancos Creek and the first palm trees were planted, which created a "paradise of the south seas" set for the benefit of film makers.  During that time, friends and employees of the Irvine Company begin to visit the Los Trancos Creek beach area for recreational activities.

In 1920, an early version of "Treasure Island" is the first commercial movie documented to be filmed at Crystal Cove.  In 1925, company employees and friends began a tent camp.  Some regulars begin to build small shelters and cottages along beach and against the bluffs.

In 1926, Pacific Coast Highway officially opens between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach providing the public access to Crystal Cove.

In 1927, Elizabeth Wood and her husband, Merrill; who were regular visitors named the beach and creek mouth area, "Crystal Cove".

Japanese farmers began leasing land from The Irvine Company and built homes and barns.  The farmers planted hundreds of acres of crops on the hillsides surrounding the cove.  They sold the produce from roadside stands on Coast Highway and to Los Angeles markets.

South of the Crystal Cove cottages "Tyron's Camp"; which was a cafe, auto camp and tent campground opened in 1927 along Pacific Coast Highway at the beach and inland creek of Morro Canyon.

In 1934, the local Japanese farming community erects its own community center known as the Gakuen or Japanese Language School.  This building is now preserved within the Historic District.

By 1936, lessees had built 47 cottages and starting in 1938, The Irvine Company and their site manager began to formalize the camping leases for annual renewals.  Under these leases the tenants had little incentive to invest in expensive improvements because the Irvine Company retained ownership of both the land the cottages.

In 1939, Orange County officials restrict construction of any further cabins due to infrastructure limitations (water, power, sewer).  Therefore under the Irvine leases it was possible to paint, resurface or change a water heater or fixture, but no changes in dimensions or additions of rooms were technically allowed after 1939.

Due to World War II, in 1942, Japanese Americans were required to be evacuated from the Pacific Coast due to the war.  The Japanese Community that were leasing land from The Irvine Company were sent to the interment camp in Poston, Arizona.  As a result, they forever lost their farms and homes along the San Joaquin hills.  Between 1942 and 1945, the U.S. military requisitioned nearly 4000 acres from the Irvine Ranch for military needs, including land for coastal defense systems.  Inside Crystal Cove, a "base end station" or "spotting station" was built above Abalone Point.  The military converted the Japanese Schoolhouse for their use.  The purpose was for observation and to furnish data for the guns of a battery for firing at a target.  The plans for a Fire Control Station were approved in November of 1943 and became obsolete soon after it had been constructed.

Crystal Cove experienced its peak years, during the 1950's, as a recreational community of summer beach goers.  The peak years ended in 1962, due to the county ending the south beach tent camping and ay use activities due to increased public health and safety concerns .  Afterward, Crystal Cove became a community of part time and full time cottage tenants.

In 1956, the old Tyron's Camp complex evolved into a permanent mobile home facility known as "El Morro Beach Trailer Park." By 1960, a series of trailers were installed along the Morro Beach front and in 1971, an additional loop created on a graded bluff top next to El Morro Elementary School.

The Crystal Cove Historic District was nominated in 1979 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  In 1982, the Crystal Cove State Park general plan was approved by the State Parks and Recreation Commission.  The plans major components include the adaptive re-use of the Crystal Cove cottage for affordable public use and the conversion of the El Morro Trailer Park area for public camping and day use.  State Funds for implementing these improvements are not available and the leases for both areas are extended for 20 years.

In 1997,  the state signs a 60 years concession contract with private developers to convert the cottages into a luxury resort, and in 1999, the Alliance to Save Crystal Cove is formed to coordinate  support to stop the planned luxury resort.  In 2001, the State Parks staff begins meeting with stakeholders and the public to create a public works plan to develop the Crystal Cove Historic District per the general plan.

In 2003, the resulting Crystal Cove Historic District Preservation and Public use plan is completed, goes through environmental review and is approved by the State Parks commission.  The first phase of the restoration of 22 cottages and key infrastructure begins at the Historic District.  Between 2003 and 2006, the restoration project results in the restoration of 13 cottages for overnight rental and nine for operations, interpretation and food concession use.  During 2006, the first overnight guests check into restored cottages and the Beachcomber Restaurant opens.  The tenants of El Morro Beach Trailer park vacated after a lengthy legal battle and the trailers were removed in order to develop a public campground and day use facility.

In 2007, Crystal cove State Park is awarded the prestigious Governor's Historic Preservation Award for the first restoration project.  Fundraising starts for the second restoration project, which would cost $6 million and would restore the Education Commons, Hollow and South Beach area.  The restoration was completed between 2009 and 2011.  In 2013, the third phase restoration project of scoping and site clean up begins; which includes the restoration of the remaining 17 cottages in the North Beach area of the district.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Out and about in Corona del Mar-Shernan Gardens and Library and Fashion Island

Welcome to Corona del Mar!

Corona del Mar is part of the City of Newport Beach and in Spanish, Corona del Mar means "Crown of the Sea". The area is known for its beaches, tide pools, cliffside views and shops.  The area is four miles west of John Wayne Airport.

Corona del Mar was settled early in the 20th century and consisted of closely spaced free standing, detached single family homes of varying architecture with Pacific Coast Highway working its way through the area.  Harbor View Hills  is a newer development on the east side of Pacific Coast Highway.  The homes are California Ranch style with sweeping panoramic ocean views.

There are many things to do in Corona del Mar and in this post, I am going to focus on two. The first one is the Sherman Library and Gardens, which are located at 2647 E Pacific Coast Highway.  The library and gardens are on a 2.2 acre horticultural retreat.  The gardens provide a museum of living plants, displayed on a setting of immaculate gardens, patins and conservatories that are accessed by wide brick walkways. There are beds blooming with seasonal flowers and bubbling tile fountains.  Near the front is a fountain with red turtles in it.  The library is a specialized research center devoted to the study of the Pacific Southwest.

The history of Sherman Library and Gardens began in 1955, when Arnold D. Haskell bought Norman's Nursery at the corner of Dahlia and Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar.  The property included a small adobe house that Mr. Haskell was going to use as his Orange County office.  Shortly after purchasing the property, Mr. Haskell began landscaping the site and surrounding property.

In 1958, the nursery area was known as The Tea Garden and was being used as a community service project by the Newport Harbor Service League for the sale of pastries, coffee and tea.  Sherman Gardens still has a tea room that is only open on the weekends.

Mr. Haskell decided to expand the concept of the property to include the building of a beautiful garden that would be a serene oasis and be open to the public.

During the 1960's, the rest of the property which makes up the Sherman Library and Gardens was acquired.  Remodeling of the original buildings and construction of the Library, conservatory and central patio building were completed between 1967 and 1974.  Mr. Haskell did not like personal publicity and named the Library and Gardens after his mentor and benefactor.

The day we were at the Gardens, these two ladies in the picture above were walking around the gardens.  More pictures to come!

The second place, I am going to take you is Fashion Island, which is really located in Newport Beach, but close to Corona del Mar.   Fashion Island is an upscale ope-air "lifestyle" center that is owns by The Irvine Company.

It was originally opened in 1967, as part of Newport Center.  at the time there were four department stores-Buffums, J.W. Robinson's, The Broadway and J.C. Penney.  The initial buildings were designed by architect William Pereira and Welton Becket.  The Spanish theme which would later define th property was evident in the Robinson's building.  In the late 1970's, Bullock's Wilshire(which later became I. Magnin) and Neiman Marcus were added.  In the 1980's J.C. Penney left the complex and the building was reconstructed and reopened as "Atrium Court" which houses numerous smaller shops and a food court.

In 1967, at the southwest entrance to, what was then, Robinson's, a bronze wind chime sculpture by artist Tom Van Sant was recorded by Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest wind chime.

In 1988, the center endured another expansion and renovation based on the design of Jon Jerde, which added the Island Terrace Food Court, an eight screen movie theater, and three new avenues of shops.  There is a circular courtyard with an animated fountain that shoots jets of water up to 30 feet. The fountain is known as the "Iris fountain", because of the radial-leaves pattern of its marble lining coupled with the jets of water that suggests the iris plant.

There were many changes in the department stores over the years-Bullocks Wilshire became Macy's. Buffums closed in 1991 and the space was subdivided into smaller stores.  Robinson's was done away with in 1996 and was replaced by one of the first Bloomingdale stores on the West Coast.  In 2010, Nordstrom's replaced Macy's.

In 2009, the Irvine Company began a $100 million renovation of Fashion Island and changed the Spanish style to an Italian style.

Other pictures of Fashion Island: