Rescued From The Sea — The Soda Shack: Cottage #45

One of the most iconic and beloved images of Crystal Cove is a color postcard from the 1930s that captures an idealized version of the seaside colony, complete with vintage automobiles and palm-frond covered cottages.

Nestled right in the middle of the glowing beach scene is a tiny white one-story cottage with red trim: The Soda Shack. Open seasonally, The Soda Shack was once the original grocery and soda stand for the early tent community, cottagers, and visitors who made the three-hour automobile journey from Los Angeles in those days. Also known as Cottage #45, it was the Cove’s first commercial establishment other than the leasing office. The Soda Shack was a modest, low profile structure, in keeping with both Crystal Cove’s vernacular architecture and low commercialization character.

The vintage postcard shows The Soda Shack’s location right on the beach, and how close it was to the water.  It was in constant danger of being washed out to sea during big storms, and local legend holds that this actually happened in the 1940s. As the legend goes, Cove residents managed to retrieve the small shack from the surf, and using a tractor and chain, drag it up the road to its current location next to The Office.

Throughout the rest of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, The Soda Shack lease belonged to the Crystal Cove Manager, and was used as a garage. In 1970, the Killen family acquired the lease and re-purposed the old store and temporary garage into a family beach cottage. Today, saved from the sea decades ago, the original Soda Shack has a new life as a charming, cheery restored rental cottage right in the heart of Crystal Cove’s Historic District.  Its rescue and its Phase II restoration allow new families and visitors to be part of its iconic history of nearly a century at The Cove.

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