Newport Beach: Crystal Cove Cottages

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Originally part of the massive Irvine Ranch, Crystal Cove is a hidden beach along Pacific Coast Highway between the towns of Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar in Southern California. As kids growing up in Orange County in the 1960s, we could ride our horses and dirt bikes along the beaches and in the hills above.  The Irvine Ranch cowboys in their Jeeps would look the other way as we raced our motorcycles up and around the steep hillsides with endless views of the ocean, with our promise to stay far away from the cattle grazing nearby.

 

Funding for the restoration of the remaining 17 cottages has been largely secured. Above are some photos taken last summer of a few of the cottages awaiting restoration. We’re looking forward to visiting once again to survey the progress.

We weren’t the first to enjoy the recreational aspects of the area. The human history of Crystal Cove goes back thousands of years beginning with the ancient native Americans who inhabited its productive hillsides and shores.

Fast-forward to the 1920s and 30s, Crystal Cove became a popular summer spot for families who built simple cabins and elaborate tents on land they leased from the Irvine Company. By 1939, the Irvine Company and county officials officially limited the number of new cottages in Crystal Cove.

Through committed community preservation interest and involvement over many years, the area’s unique history, as wells as the cottages, were saved from demolition and redevelopment into a luxury beach resort, preserving Crystal Cove’s heritage and remaining cottages for the public to enjoy.

By 2011, several dozen cottages in the historic district had been restored and made available for overnight rental to the public at affordable rates, not including additional cottages restored for concession, interpretive and administrative uses.

 

Indigenous Inhabitants

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Newport Center, Newport Beach. Intaglios incised carving by Tom Van Sant (1967).

One of my favorite places to spend the holidays is Newport Beach, where I love to study the “brutalist” architecture of Newport Center. In 1967, artist Tom Van Sant created a series he called “Indigenous Inhabitants” that captured the region’s wildlife (many of which are extinct now) in concrete using a technique called Intaglios – Italian for incised carving. His work was commissioned by Architects William Pereira and Welton Becket.