Cottage #27 – The Dive Shack

In the late 1930s, four young women pooled their money to build a palm-frond-covered beach cottage at Crystal Cove. Perched on an ocean-front bluff above winding brick stairs, the retreat was originally called “Elmarudor.” Nearly a century later, the palm fronds have been replaced with dark shingles and the cottage is now available for public lodging as Cottage #27: The Dive Shack.

The original Depression-era builders were all co-corkers at Azusa Valley Savings Bank. They created the magical sounding “Elmarudor” from a combination of the first letters of their names: Elsie, Margaret, Ruth, and Dorothy. Before building Cottage #27, they owned Cottage #2, The Shell Shack, just a few steps away.

In the late 1960s, Cinco Rowland and his wife Edie began renting the cottage, and in the late 1970s, they purchased the lease, and were the cottage’s last occupants before it was restored as public lodging. In the early 1980s, a wrecked cabin cruiser washed ashore at the north end of the beach. It was abandoned, with a burned-out motor, and in those days, what washed ashore unclaimed was reclaimed for vernacular architecture. Cinco salvaged the cruiser’s mahogany cabinets and installed them in the kitchen of Cottage #27, where they still serve guests today.

Cinco first started visiting Crystal Cove as a guest in 1952, even before his time at Cottage #27. He dove at the cove for 48 years, and the restored Dive Shack’s name and interior furnishings reflect an ocean lifestyle. With nautical artifacts, sloped ceilings, and intact 1930s appeal, The Dive Shack is a step back in time to when Cinco and Edie lived there, and to the time of its original builders. Except for the new cabinets and the replacement of the exterior palm fronds with wood shingles (including over the garage door), the cottage is mostly unchanged. Three large porches offer modern modern-day visitors the same view and sense of place that inspired Elsie, Margaret, Ruth, and Dorothy to build their enchanted “Elmarudor” at the cove back in the early 1930s.

Adapted from Crystal Cove Cottages: Islands in Time on the California Coast by Karen E. Steen, Laura Davick & Meriam Brasselle, available for purchase at The Store at Crystal Cove, with profits going to Crystal Cove Conservancy.

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