Category Archives: Laguna Beach Real Estate

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Arhitect Lilian Rice

California master architect Lilian J. Rice left behind homes rich in innovative architectural craftsmanship, both retreats of beauty for those who lived in them, and now markers of great historical significance. Architect to some of the nation’s wealthiest achievers in the first half of the twentieth century, Lilian Rice has posthumously become a controversial figure. A woman in a man’s world, she was given an unprecedented opportunity in 1923 when her employer asked her to oversee the design of Rancho Santa Fe, a Southern California master-planned community catering to the rich and famous.

 

Eleven of Lilian Rice’s homes are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, scores more are county landmarks, and several garnered her honor awards from the American Institute of Architects. In her presentation, author Diane Y. Welch will shine a spotlight on Lilian J. Rice’s life, work and accomplishments. Signed, first-edition copies of her latest book, “The Life and Times of Lilian J. Rice, Master Architect” will be available for purchase.

Houses Designed by Lilian J. Rice

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Laguna Beach gets all its water from somewhere else. Scary when you think about it.

But how we got the water from other places during Laguna’s start up years is quite a colorful story with colorful people.
One such character is Gavy Cravath, who was such a good baseball player that it took Babe Ruth to break his home run records.

But first a little background:

Until the early 1920s, the residents of Laguna Beach received their water from a well located north on Laguna Canyon Road when cisterns in town ran out of rainwater. Summer visitors frequently stopped and filled jugs on their way into town.

One amazing feat was in 1905 when Howard Heisler (of Heisler Park) pumped running water from Laguna Canyon to each lot in his development of houses in Laguna Cliffs, which is today’s coveted North Laguna’s Tree Streets.  He subdivided and laid out the only streets in Laguna that run in straight right angles to one another.

In 1924, the growth of the village had been so rapid that the water system could not produce an adequate supply. The heavy pumping exhausted the surface supply and soon saltwater intrusion and well failure forced the closure of the water service.

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But local citizens pretending to be a Duck Hunting Club came to the rescue.

So when the water became scarce in 1925 the locals turned to one of the closest places to get fresh water, Huntington Beach home of the Santa Ana River Basin.

Knowing that Huntington Beach, 20 miles to the north, would want to keep its precious fresh water, a group of Laguna guys pretended to be a Duck Hunting Club and bought 120 acres (which is still owned).

The five men divvied up a $1,000 deposit out of their own pockets, with the balance to be paid at $400 an acre.

What they had bought was the City’s future water supply.

The Board of Supervisors called for an election on May 4, 1925, and residents went to the polls and approved the formation of the Laguna Beach County Water District by a vote of 359 to 0.

Here comes Gavey, the retired baseball pro turned real estate investor (and later the town’s Justice of the Peace) to make sure the huge $600,000 bond was passed.

About two days before election he sneaked down and turned on the Laguna Canyon pumps, filing the pipes with the brackish water. The people were trying to use it and were disgusted.

Then came voting day and they voted YES, 437 votes, for the $600,000 water bonds for Huntington Beach water.

The new water district built a new water system, constructed a 13-mile transmission pipeline, and provided service to Laguna Beach. The system was completed and water began to flow into the reservoirs in Spring 1927.

This was the only election in history with a unanimous ‘yes’ vote for that number of votes.

Securing our Water Supply

Introduction of water from wells in the Santa Ana River Basin solved Laguna’s water problems for several years, but it wasn’t smooth sailing. Other water producers in the Basin sued the District to prevent our groundwater production and export to Laguna Beach. In 1933, the Orange County Superior Court determined the right of the District to pump and export 2,025 acre-feet of groundwater from the Santa Ana River Basin each year.

Unfortunately, over time pumping from the basin increased, groundwater elevations fell, and sea water intruded into the basin. By 1941, Laguna’s water supply had again become salty and unreliable.

This deterioration in the quality of the groundwater caused the District to assist in the formation of Coastal Municipal Water District and to purchase Colorado River water through Coastal MWD from Metropolitan Water District in 1943. The District’s well field in the Santa Ana River Basin remained in operation until 1948.

More on Gavy Cravath – a true Laguna character

Clifford Carlton Cravath (March 23, 1881 – May 23, 1963), also nicknamed “Cactus Gravy”, was an outfielder and right-handed batter who played for the Boston Red Sox (1908), Chicago White Sox (1909), Washington Senators (1909) and Philadelphia Phillies (1912-1920).

Cravath was the first baseball player from the San Diego area to play Major League Baseball. He was born in Escondido, California. He is regarded as one of the first great sluggers in the game.

In 1915, Cravath hit 24 home runs, setting a single season record that stood until Babe Ruth broke it by hitting 29 homers in 1919.

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He changed baseball when he was caught in a run down between two players and as they were tossing the ball back and forth trying to catch Gavy he jumped up a caught the ball and threw it into the stands. He sauntered on to home plate and the rule was changed to never let that happen again.
Gavy Cravath managed the Salt Lake City Bees of the Pacific Coast League in 1921, then spent one year as a scout for the Minneapolis Millers, his last job in professional baseball.

Returning to Laguna Beach, California, where for years he’d leisurely enjoyed his off-season’s fishing the Pacific and accumulating property, he became active in the real-estate business.

In September 1927 Cravath was elected judge, and for the rest of his life enjoyed saying that he claimed the gavel quite by accident. He and two friends didn’t like the sitting judge in Laguna Beach so they drew straws to determine which of the three would run against him.

Gavy drew the short straw and won the election by an almost 3:1 ratio. Lacking any formal legal training, he claimed that he based his decisions on principles of sportsmanship he’d learned on the diamond.

Judge Cravath became known as a crusty jurist and stories abound from his years on the bench. Once, when two young robbers appeared before him and asked permission to join the armed forces as part of a probation sentence, Cravath said, “When I see a man in uniform walking down the street, I look at him with pride. You haven’t earned the right to wear such a uniform bearing the honor of our country. Six months in county jail.”

On another occasion, Cravath asked a Santa Ana motorcycle cop if he was heading back to the station after a hearing. The officer replied in the affirmative. Next the town drunk staggered into the courtroom and Cravath said, “Pete, you hop on the back of George’s bike and he’ll take you up to the county jail for a few days to dry out.” No stranger to due process, Pete objected, “You can’t do that, Gavy. Hell, I ain’t even been arraigned yet.” Cravath glared at the drunk. “Now look here, Pete,” he growled. “You know you were drunk and I know you were drunk. Now we’re not going to waste any of the taxpayers’ money on a goddam trial. Get on that goddam motorcycle and go to jail for a few days to dry out.” Pete grinned sheepishly and obeyed the order.

Well-known and widely respected, Judge Cravath was reversed only twice during his 36-year tenure on the bench. When he finally died at age 82 on May 23, 1963, few Laguna Beach residents even realized that in a prior life, the Honorable Clifford C. Cravath had set major-league home-run records that it took the mighty Babe Ruth to break.

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Cravath had a career .287 batting average with 119 home runs, then the fourth most in history, and 719 RBI in 1220 games. Mel Ott eventually tied his NL record of six home run titles; Ralph Kiner broke the record in 1952 with seven; and Mike Schmidt now holds the record of eight titles, set with the Phillies in 1986. Cravath’s 20th-century record of 119 homers was broken by Babe Ruth in 1921.

Cravath had a career .287 batting average with 119 home runs, then the fourth most in history, and 719 RBI in 1220 games. Mel Ott eventually tied his NL record of six home run titles; Ralph Kiner broke the record in 1952 with seven; and Mike Schmidt now holds the record of eight titles, set with the Phillies in 1986. Cravath’s 20th-century record of 119 homers was broken by Babe Ruth in 1921. Cravath returned to California, where he went into real estate and was elected magistrate judge (Justice of the Peace) in September 1927 in Laguna Beach, California; he died there at age 82. His nephew Jeff Cravath was head football coach at the University of Southern California from 1942–1950.

Clifford Carlton Cravath (March 23, 1881 – May 23, 1963), also nicknamed “Cactus Gravy”, was an outfielder and right-handed batter who played for the Boston Red Sox

 (1908), Chicago White Sox (1909), Washington Senators (1909) and Philadelphia Phillies (1912-1920).

Cravath was the first baseball player from the San Diego area to play Major League Baseball. He was born in Escondido, California. He is regarded as one of the first great sluggers in the game.

In 1915, Cravath hit 24 home runs, setting a single season record that stood until Babe Ruth broke it by hitting 29 homers in 1919.

Cravath was a career .287 hitter with 119 home runs and 719 RBI in 1220 games. After retiring, he became the Justice of Peace in Laguna Beach, California, where he died at age of 82.

Highlights

  • 6-time led league in home runs (1913-15, 1917-19)
  • 4-time led league in extra base hits (1913, 1915, 1917-18)
  • Twice led league in RBI (1913, 1915)
  • Twice led league in slugging average (1913, 1915)
  • Twice led league in total bases (1913, 1915)
  • Twice led league in on base percentage (1915-16)
  • Led league in hits (1913)
  • Led league in runs (1915)

2016-07-14 19_49_35-New notification

 

Laguna Cliffs – The North Laguna ‘Tree Streets’

From A Short History of Laguna Beach and South Laguna” by Karen Wilson Turnbull

“North Laguna, called Laguna Cliffs, was developed by Howard Heisler, L.C. McKnight and the Thumb Brothers. In 1905 they purchased the land north of Laguna Creek to Emerald Bay, from the Irvine Ranch Company. They subdivided and laid out the only streets in Laguna that run in straight right angles to one another. Water was piped in from Laguna Canyon, and this was the first neighborhood offering water with every lot.”

Howard Heisler, developer of the building, was an important real estate entrepreneur in the early days of Laguna. Along with L.C. McKnight he acquired most of the land which now compromises north Laguna from the Irvine Company and subdivided it in 1906 under the name Laguna Cliffs. This was the first tract in Laguna to have water directly piped to each lot, quite an achievement for its time.

This building on South Coast Highway is an important testimony to the memory of an important Laguna pioneer, H.G. Heisler.

“The Original Water Source for Laguna Beach”: Located at Laguna Canyon and El Toro Road, the remnants of the pump head were visible until a few years ago. The little tin cup was used to prime the pump. Carolyn Hobert Fisch Collection.

 


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The Story of Laguna’s Hippos – Bubbles and Herman

The Story of Laguna’s Hippos – Bubbles and Herman

    In 1978, I had just moved to Laguna and the town was astir. It had been 19 days since Bubbles, a hippo at the popular Lion Country Safari (now the Pacific Verizon Amphitheater) managed to burrow under her fence, squeeze past a barricade and lumber away from her pen.

     No easy feat for a hippo I’m sure.

Well, after sashaying over the hill she crosses the Canyon Road and submerged herself in one of the Laguna lakes. (Up until a couple years ago the natural lake was separated into two lakes by the canyon road) It turned into quite the scene with rescue people making a vigilant effort to entice her out in every creative way possible, but to no avail.

    Of course the media was all over it, as was Johnny Carson who make references to Bubbles in his famous monologues. It surely was the talk of the town.

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles was all you heard in all the bars and town. I was not sure this was the place for me.We’re spending all our time talking about a hippo.

    She’d hid under water during the day and put her nostrils out during the night. One time she did come out and was shot with a tranquilizer gun but still managed to chase away the 3 rescuers and wade back into the lake.

    Now the sad part – After the 19 day siege she made a run for it up a hill side and again was hit with the tranquilizers but this time she fell on her side and her organs crushed her lungs and she died.

      Needless to say everyone was devastated. The bars were silent.

A Happier Laguna Hippo Story

 
    But believe it or not there’s a happier Laguna hippo story about Herman who was saved by his close friend Lisa the elephant.
 
    This story takes place back in 1968 when Herman was a star hippo with a circus along the coast in Huntington Beach. It was not unusual for him to take a swim in the ocean and then come back to his cage.
Well one day he did not come back and a huge search ensued.
 
    He was lost for three days until he finally was found eating hay 15 miles south at the Thoroughbred Sea Spa, a health resort for race horses, located in Laguna Beach. The thinking was that he swam down the coast and saw the beautiful shoreline of Laguna and decided to try to move here.
 
    But like Bubbles, Herman when discovered, jumped in a deep water hole that the horses used to bath and once again there was no prodding him out.
It took Lisa the elephant, friend and cage mate of Herman, to entice him out.
 
    But it didn’t come easy, it took days of the elephant pleading with bellowing blasts to his friend to come out.
 
    Finally Lisa went into the water and Herman followed her out.
 
    Off they went in a trailer.
 
    A happy ending. Whew.
Herman
 
 


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The Story of Laguna’s Hippos–Bubbles and Herman

The Story of Laguna’s Hippos – Bubbles and Herman

    In 1978, I had just moved to Laguna and the town was astir. It had been 19 days since Bubbles, a hippo at the popular Lion Country Safari (now the Pacific Verizon Amphitheater) managed to burrow under her fence, squeeze past a barricade and lumber away from her pen.

     No easy feat for a hippo I’m sure.

A Happier Laguna Hippo Story

 
    But believe it or not there’s a happier Laguna hippo story about Herman who was saved by his close friend Lisa the elephant.
 
    This story takes place back in 1968 when Herman was a star hippo with a circus along the coast in Huntington Beach. It was not unusual for him to take a swim in the ocean and then come back to his cage.
Well one day he did not come back and a huge search ensued.
 
    He was lost for three days until he finally was found eating hay 15 miles south at the Thoroughbred Sea Spa, a health resort for race horses, located in Laguna Beach. The thinking was that he swam down the coast and saw the beautiful shoreline of Laguna and decided to try to move here.
 
    But like Bubbles, Herman when discovered, jumped in a deep water hole that the horses used to bath and once again there was no prodding him out.
It took Lisa the elephant, friend and cage mate of Herman, to entice him out.
 
    But it didn’t come easy, it took days of the elephant pleading with bellowing blasts to his friend to come out.
 
    Finally Lisa went into the water and Herman followed her out.
 
    Off they went in a trailer.
 
    A happy ending. Whew.
Herman
 
 


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Sean’s 1 Minute Update – June 2016

Sean’s 1 minute Update June 2016

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