Cottage #46 – The Summer Store
Summertime has always been the busiest season at Crystal Cove, and from early days, there was a summer store right on the beach to serve the summertime Cove community. The first summer store was a palm-thatched snack stand. By 1935 it had been replaced by the red and white Soda Shack. After the Soda Shack was damaged in a storm, it was moved inland and the last summer store — Cottage #46, or “The Store” — was built in 1950. This last summer store still stands today in the same location as the other summer stores once did, where the main Cove entrance path meets the beach.
Operated by the Van Pelt family who had a cottage at the Cove, “The Summer Store” was only open for business from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. The store sold basic pantry provisions, as well as short-order grill items, penny candy, firecrackers, and “punch card” lottery tickets. It had an old-fashioned soda fountain with a counter and stools where Cove kids ordered a concoction they called “suicide soda” that was made by mixing equal parts of all the flavored syrups with fountain soda. The store was known for its hamburgers and breakfasts, and generous double-scoop ice cream cones. According to Lee Van Pelt, the majority of the store’s profits came in on summer weekends. The Store also served as a centrally located hub and gathering place for the summertime community.
After tent camping ended in 1962, the summer store no longer had enough business and closed for good. For a short time, it was a makeshift cottage for newlyweds Bob and Gen McMenomy who helped Bob’s mother Laura manage the Cove in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This was the only time it was used as a residence. In later years, the cottage was outfitted as a surfboard-making shop, a storage facility, and then, starting in the 1970s, a working art studio for resident Cove artist Vivian Falzetti. For many years,
Vivian created art and hosted informal art classes from the ocean-facing studio.
When Crystal Cove transitioned to a public park, Cottage #46 was once again repurposed, first as a temporary Visitors’ Center, and finally as a venue for rotating public exhibits and gatherings. Its historic seasons as both store and artist’s studio endure through the Interpretive Store, which is home
to Crystal Cove’s art gallery as well as unique art-and-beach-inspired items for sale to the public year-round.
Today Cottage #46 is an iconic landmark that’s been featured in many photographs and plein air paintings. It’s usually open year-round now, inviting day visitors to enjoy its exhibits, and to gather under the ocean-side pergola just as people once did when it was a seasonal summer store.