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:

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