From Jazz Era to Artists’s Retreat: Cottage #32
In 1968, artist Alice Powell and her husband Tom acquired Cottage #32, also known by the whimsical “Hi-de-Ho” sign displayed on its exterior. Alice was a ceramicist who kept a kiln and workshop in the backyard of the cottage and hand painted her original fired work. Tom passed away in 1987, and Alice later married an artist named Roger Armstrong. Together, their artistic legacy helped restored Cottage #32 become known as “Painter’s Cottage.”
In his 75-year artistic career, cove resident Roger Armstrong was a versatile painter in oil, watercolor and acrylic, as well as an acclaimed cartoonist for Disney, Hanna-Barbera, and Warner Brothers. His work is included in more than 300 public and private collections, including the Smithsonian Museum. Roger was a lifelong teacher of the arts, too, including informally at Crystal Cove.
Like every cottage at Crystal Cove, the Painter’s Cottage’s unique design was inspired by available materials, imagination, and the natural setting. Originally built in 1936, the cottage can be spotted in a vintage 1937 Crystal Cove postcard. The spacious and sunny two–bedroom cottage features wood floors and walls, a large kitchen, and ocean and bluff views. Guests might even find their own artistic creativity inspired the cottage’s glass-enclosed porch furnished with a quilt-covered daybed.
The exterior of Cottage #32 still displays its original nickname from a different era – “Hi-De-Ho” in blue letters. The story goes that the legendary jazz band leader Cab Calloway forgot the lyrics to one of his songs and improvised “Hi-De-Ho” on the spot, using his own voice as a musical instrument in a technique he learned from Louis Armstrong. The exuberantly improvised chorus was famous through the era of jitterbug, jazz, and swing, and somehow wound up on a cottage in an exuberantly improvised beach and artist colony called Crystal Cove.
Today, Cottage #32 still carries the Hi-De-Ho nickname from its earliest years, but it has also evolved to lodge new generations of artists and conservationists to be inspired by Crystal Cove’s natural setting – just like the artists of the Painter’s Cottage once were.