“The Business Side of Fun” – Cottage #00: The Office
Early in the 20th century, Crystal Cove was a natural setting for a tropical paradise. From as early as 1917, studios planted palm trees around the shore to make it even more cinematic. Nearly every palm at the Cove was planted by a Hollywood studio, including the towering ones still standing in front of Crystal Cove’s first permanent structure: Cottage #00 — The Office and Visitor Center.
Built in 1925 as a hub for the growing silent film and camping operations, The Office was run by E. Roy Davidson, a Hollywood Technical Director hired as the Cove’s first manager by James Irvine II. Davidson constructed the one-room office with the help of his friend Merrell Wood. After the height of the silent film era, The Office continued to serve as the logistical base for ongoing Cove business that had emerged: scheduling campers, collecting rent, responding to emergencies, and enforcing evolving regulations.
Subsequent managers tinkered with The Office’s original design, adding living quarters to the back and moving business operations forward to a new glassed-in porch. The mail slot once used for delivering rent checks is still in place. This vernacular architecture was typical of all the cottages, with quirky and charming results — there were no interior hallways in The Office, and the bedrooms could only be accessed from the outside.
One longtime manager, named Laura McMenomy, re-purposed an airport landing light and loud speaker into an improvised roof-top security system. While Laura’s security system is gone today, her antique maple piano remains in Cottage #00, donated to The Office’s modern life as Crystal Cove’s Visitor Center.
Today, the French doors of the yellow cottage open to a wealth of historical and real-time information for visitors. Docents report that many visitors are inspired to share their own stories of connecting to this special place, and for nearly a century — as The Office and the Visitor Center — Cottage #00 has been welcoming new visitors to make their own memories at Crystal Cove.