Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica

Three Remarkable Individuals: William Randolph Hearst, Marion Davies, and Julia Morgan shaped the site’s historical legacy.

Former Marion Davies was dubbed the “Versailles of Hollywood” with 110 rooms, 37 fireplaces and 55 bathrooms

The 5-acre oceanfront site upon which the Annenberg Community Beach House now sits was originally developed during the Gold Coast era of the 1920s by William Randolph Hearst for actress Marion Davies. The Davies estate featured a mansion of 100-plus rooms and an ornate marble swimming pool. Designer William Flannery began the project in 1926, joined by Julia Morgan shortly thereafter.  They worked together until 1928, then Flannery disappeared (from the project). As with many Hearst projects, the vision of architect Julia Morgan provided a cohesive grace to the rambling estate. The Beach House was a hot spot with Hearst and Davies entertaining luminaries from the Hollywood set, such as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and other stars of the day.

In 1947, Joseph Drown purchased the property from Davies and converted into Oceanhouse, “America’s Most Beautiful Hotel,” along with the Sand & Sea Club, a limited-membership beach club. After the Oceanhouse venture ended, the main mansion was demolished in 1956. The popular Sand & Sea Club continued to operate.

The property was sold to the State of California in 1959, continuing to operate as the ever-popular Sand & Sea Club under a concession agreement. In the 1990s, the City of Santa Monica ran the facility; known as ‘415 PCH,’ until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake severely damaged all structures on site.

Although a reuse plan was adopted in 1998, the project sat on hold while the City tried to secure funding. Wallis Annenberg of the Annenberg Foundation, held fond memories of visiting the Sand & Sea Club. When she learned of the City’s struggle to identify funding to realize its vision for a year-round public beach facility, she enthusiastically offered to help. The Annenberg Foundation provided a $27.5 million grant that paved the way for the site’s rehabilitation.

The site opened to the public as The Annenberg Community Beach House on April 25, 2009. The Beach House combines elements of the historic Marion Davies Estate with new amenities to create a truly unique community destination that’s open to all – no membership required. With spectacular views, splash pad, children’s play area, gallery, historic pool, and Marion Davies Guest House there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the Beach House.

In honor of the Julia Morgan 2012 Festival

the special exhibits are as follows:

Exhibit: Julia Morgan 2012: Contemporary Women Architects

Opening Reception Thursday, October 4, 6 – 8 pm

Exhibit will continue the month of October

Gallery Hours

Daily 9 am – 4 pm

No reservations required.

*Gallery hours are subject to change; please call 310-458-4904 to confirm.


Panel Discussion

Sunday, October 14, 2 – 4 pm

Julia Morgan 2012: Contemporary Women Architects will be presented with local female architects about women in architecture today. Inspired by quotes from Morgan and led by moderator Amy Murphy, Associate Professor at USC’s School of Architecture, this discussion will range widely over issues facing both emerging and established architects in various areas of specialization.

Event is free, reservations required.


Julia Morgan themed tours of the Marion Davies Guest House

with the Santa Monica Conservancy Docents

Thu 10/4, 6 – 8 pm

Sun 10/14, 11 am – 4 pm

Sun 10/21, 11 am – 4 pm

Sat 11/4, 11 am – 2 pm

Sun 11/11, 11 am – 4 pm

Mon 11/12, 11 am – 4 pm


“Tile” art workshop

All ages welcome

Draw inspiration from Julia Morgan’s beautiful designs and tile work which is found  in the pool and guest house. 

Create a Design Inspired Tile or Fantasy Fish Collage “tile” using reclaimed materials. 

Sun 11/4, Fantasy Fish Collage –  11am – 1 pm

Sun 11/11, Fantasy Fish Collage – 11 am – 1 pm; Design Inspired Tile – 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm 

Mon 11/12, Fantasy Fish Collage – 11 am – 1 pm; Design Inspired Tile – 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm 

Workshops are free, reservations recommended.


Annenberg Community Beach House

Pictorial History of the Beach House

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