Thursday, December 18, 2014

Photo Essay: Combing the Beach For the Royal Palms Country Club

Royal Palms State Beach is considered one of the hidden gems of LA County – a family-friendly picnic spot "where Western Avenue meets the sea," with an active surf, and pools wriggling with life at low tide.



But not many know about the beach's namesake, the Royal Palms Country Club, built in 1927.



Originally developed as the Royal Palms Recreation Center out of a share of the original Rancho Palos Verdes land grant...



...in an area occupied by the Gabrielino natives and discovered by Spanish explorers around 1770...



...Roman Sepulveda (1851–1940, a descendent of Mexican colonial soldier Francisco Xavier Sepulveda) used local stone to build two fireplaces and benches...



...installed a terrazzo dance floor...



...and planted a grove of palm trees.


Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library

The palms are a bit taller today...



...but the recreation center portion of the beach looks very much the same now as it did back then.



The location  – "only 45 minutes from Broadway," and about 300 yards from the current Paseo del Mar landslide area) – was very popular, especially amongst the wealthy...



...who came to these palisades to play golf at the country club (financed by 15 prominent LA men, including James Oviatt, operating out of the Great Republic Life Building in Downtown) and use its various other amenities (fishing, swimming, yachting, dining, dancing).



Built to be "America's Most Wonderful Social Organization," the Club operated until 1933, when it closed in the wake of the Great Depression.



In the advent of World War II, the military took over much of LA County's shoreline...



...including Royal Palms.



Today, you can still spot large concrete slabs along the rocky shore...



...which are all that remain of any of the structures from the country club...



...or its guest house.



Their steel reinforcements have become rusted...



...and their Stonehenge-like arrangement has made them a magnet for lobster cages and other debris from the sea.



It is haunting on a winter day...



...no beach-goers in sight.



It's not obvious what some of the ruins used to be...



...but despite their proximity to the crashing waves...



...the pelicans and the fisherman...



...and the rubble falling from the bluffs above...



...these remains have withstood the test of time...



...although when the military left after the War...



...the beach was combed by the Hedley family, who leased the beach and scoured the shore for any debris they deemed useful.

Since 1960, Royal Palms has operated as a public beach, first by the State of California and then by the County of Los Angeles.

Stay tuned for photos from the ruins of its neighbor beach, White Point.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Cabrillo Beach & A Crumbling Concrete Bunker
Photo Essay: San Pedro's Sunken City
Photo Essay: Hike to a Ghost Shipwreck
Photo Essay: Crystal Cove Cottages, Frozen in Time
Retreading Old Ground
Land of Opportunity