Laguna’s Bluebird Canyon is Home to a 1932 ‘Olympic Village’

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Laguna’s Bluebird Canyon is Home to a 1932 ‘Olympic Village’

 

    If you like a canyon rural setting with curvy dead end streets and houses that have a unique history to them, the ‘Olympic Village’ section of Bluebird is for you. After the 1932 LA Olympics, the cheaply built two-room cottages that housed the athletes were bought by the Laguna Heights Land Co. and moved to small lots in Bluebird Canyon and still exist today, albeit many  are remodeled, in the quaint ‘Olympic Village’

Click here to see the location in the map

    Street names such as Didrikson and Crabbe could give away the origins of the heights of Blue Bird Canyon. After all, track phenomenon Babe (Mildred) Didrikson and swimmer Buster Crabbe were the winners of their events in the 1932 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles.

In 1932, a village of two-room cottages with walls made of Celotex and roofs made from tar paper was built in Los Angeles for the Olympic contestants. These little huts were built as cheaply as possible, since they were intended to serve for the games only. Afterward, the cottages were put up for sale at very low prices.
The Laguna Heights Land Co. of Los Angeles bought them and brought the majority of them to Blue Bird Canyon in Laguna Beach, where they were put on land owned by B.O. Miller of the Hollingsworth Co. of Los Angeles. This little tract of small lots and streets as narrow as alleys named its passageways after track star William Carr, hurdler George Saling, divers Harold Smith and Georgia Coleman, swimmer Helene Madison and decathlete James Bausch. This gave credence to the name its brokers gave it, “Olympic Village.”
Houses sold at bargain prices, and the Taylor Brothers of Laguna Beach fitted the cabins to the lots. Fred Leech was broker for the sale of the properties and used one of the cottages as his office in the 1300 block of South Coast Highway.
Many of the homes remain on the original lots but are so remodeled that their origins are hard to ascertain. “Only the board-and-batten corners can be seen hidden in the trees” is how fourth-generation Laguna resident and artist Karen Wilson Turnbull put it. The Olympic cottage at 168 Mountain Road is today the most unaltered of those that still stand.

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Starting at Cress Street as it enters Bluebird Canyon, September 10, 1948. More and more people were buying property in “Olympic Village”, now Bluebird Canyon, and it became necessary to cut a more direct route between this booming area and “the village”. Getting that job done were Carl Mansur, Johnny Verdugo, Doug Perrin, Cliff Hennings.
The little house up on the upper left hand corner belonged to Guy Skidmore. It still stands in the same spot, but across from it now is a charming little “Bluebird Park”.
Photo’s from the Carolyn Hobert Fisch collection.

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A little 450 sq. ft. cottage in Hidden Valley, Laguna Beach. It was originally part of an Olympic village in L.A. in 1932.

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The 1932 summer Olympic games held in Los Angeles offered a chance for athletes traveling from around the world to experience the very first Olympic Village since the ancient Greeks pitched their tents on the plain of Elis. Located in Baldwin Hills at the end of W. Vernon Place and west of Crenshaw Blvd, the Village consisted of 550 portable houses were designed and built by H.O. Davis, each measuring 24 by 10 feet. Each house contained two 10 by 10-foot rooms with a connecting shower. Each room housed two athletes, with two beds, two chairs, a dresser, and a lavatory bowl.

After the Olympics were over, the houses were sold for as little as $140. They were shipped around the world: Japan, Hawaii, one to Denmark, the U.S., and a few to Laguna Beach. In the neighborhood where these cabins were moved, the streets were named after some of the Gold Medal Winners. They all have been heavily modified, in some cases 2 were combined to make a larger residence.

Photo of Olympic Village being built. *Info copied from Kirk Juan

 

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Sean McCracken

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