Constructed for $2 million, the Catalina Casino was hailed as "a monument to the effort of William Wrigley, Jr. to give Catalina the finest and best the world's artisans have to offer."
The Catalina Casino has been an icon of Catalina Island since it opened in 1929. The culmination of a ten-year building program by William Wrigley, Jr., the Casino cost $2 million to construct and was hailed as "a monument to the effort of [Wrigley] to give Catalina the finest and best the world's artisans have to offer."
Based on a suggestion by his son, Philip K. Wrigley, Wrigley had envisioned a large, Moorish building featuring a ballroom placed over a theatre. Architects Walter Webber and Sumner A. Spaulding brought Wrigley's vision to life in a circular, cantilevered structure of steel and reinforced concrete. Its elegant design, blending Mediterranean Revival and Art Deco elements, gives the building a lightness that belies its massive construction.
The project was immense on every level. With the exception of the 105,000 Catalina roof tiles made locally of native clay, building materials had to be brought to the island from the mainland.
The Casino's opening was celebrated over two days by around 10,000 people -- including King Neptune, who arrived by seaplane to deliver the key.
The Casino dominates the Avalon landscape and exemplifies the style and romance of Catalina Island. Its Avalon Theatre and upstairs ballroom have hosted countless moviegoers, entertainers, bands, dancers, and revelers. The Casino's appeal spread far and wide through live radio and television broadcasts.