Annenberg Community Beach House at Santa Monica State Beach
William Randolph Hearst's oceanside estate for actress Marion Davies is now a community beach house open to the general public, no membership required.
In the 1920s, William Randolph Hearst built an oceanside estate for actress Marion Davies. Architect Julia Morgan oversaw development of the estate, which included several guest houses, an ornate marble swimming pool, and a 110-room mansion.
From 1929 to 1942, when Hearst and Davies used the estate, it was the hottest spot on Santa Monica’s Gold Coast, with guests ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Winston Churchill.
In the 1940s, the estate became a luxury hotel and the members-only Sand & Sea Club. The mansion was demolished and the property sold to the State of California in 1959. The site continued on as the Sand & Sea Club for decades, until its lease expired in 1989. The property languished for years and suffered severe damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
The City and residents of Santa Monica then seized the opportunity to re-envision the role of the property, collaborating to create a visionary site use plan. The project stalled for lack of funding until 2005, when the Annenberg Foundation committed $27.5 million to turn this vision into reality. The facility is now open to the general public, no membership required.
The project restored the site’s two remaining original features: the Marion Davies Guest House and the swimming pool. New components of the facility reinterpret the original mansion for modern times. This project earned a Conservancy Preservation Award in 2010.