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Santa Monica's Annenberg Beach House to Celebrate 10th Anniversary
By Jorge Casuso
April 11, 2019 -- It braved an earthquake that shook the foundation of what was left of the storied beach estate and legal threats from wealthy neighbors wary of its rebirth.
On Sunday, April 28, the Annenberg Community Beach House will kick off its 10th anniversary celebration with “Have a Beach Ball,” a group photo in the sand of the public creating an iconic Beach House beach ball.
The event will be followed by "fun, music and games," City officials said.
Then, throughout the summer, photos, videos and other memories will be shared at annenbergbeachhouse.com "to showcase a decade of fun-in-the-sun gatherings, activities and programs enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors," officials said.
“For a decade, the Annenberg Community Beach House has been an oasis for families and visitors to make memories and enjoy the splendor of a beachside afternoon,” said Mayor Gleam Davis.
“There’s no public facility quite like it and we hope residents who have yet to discover the Beach House’s programming for all ages will come out this spring and summer.”
The Annerberg Beach House is the latest transformation of what is left of the private estate built in the 1920s by newspaper tycoon at William Randolph Hearst for silent screen actress Marion Davies.
Hearst and his paramour threw lavish parties at the 101-room estate that drew the biggest names in Hollywood -- Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson.
In the late 1940s the property was sold and turned into a hotel whose owner demolished the large mansion but preserved the original guest house and pool as well as cabanas and a locker building.
The estate's remains were subsequently sold to the State of California and leased for thirty years to the Sand and Sea Club until the City of Santa Monica took over the site in 1989.
The site was being used as a seasonal public beach facility when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake battered the structure that sat boarded up as the City struggled to find ways to save it.
Then, a decade after the earthquake, philanthropist Wallis Annenberg, who had fond memories of visiting The Sand and Sea Club as a child, learned about the City’s struggle and made a $27.5 million grant.
The Beach House project took a major step in January 2007, when the City Council authorized $34.6 million for the final makeover ("Council Set to Approve Nearly $35 Million for Public Beach Club," January 23, 2007).
The funding paid as much as $28 million for the demolition of the old structure and the design and construction of the new public beach house.
Today, the Annenberg Beach House offers year-round classes, free community events and cultural offerings, and its historic pool is open to the public during summer days from mid-June through Labor Day.
The Beach House is also available to rent for private events and as a location for filming.
For the Beach House's offerings, visit annenbergbeachhouse.com or call 310-458-4904.
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