Calling it a milestone for the Annenberg Community Beach Club project, Santa Monica city officials said 16 monumental white pillars evoking the iconic white columns of the original Marion Davies Estate are being installed on-site at 415 Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

Installation of the white pillars began Monday, December 17th, and was expected to take two days. Each 29-foot-tall pillar was pre-cast off-site from a white concrete mixture and installation was being overseen by Charles Pankow Builders.

When the 415 PCH property was developed in the 1920s by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst for actress Marion Davies, it featured an 100-room mansion designed by architect Julia Morgan.

After Davies sold the estate, the mansion was briefly operated as a luxury oceanfront hotel and then demolished in the 1950s. The property was purchased by the State of California and leased to the private Sand & Sea Club for decades.

The City of Santa Monica briefly operated the site as a seasonal public beach facility until the 1994 Northridge Earthquake damaged all structures on site.

Following the earthquake, the city started a community planning process to develop a reuse plan that would take advantage of the site’s attractive beachfront location, its colorful history and its potential as a unique public destination, city officials said. In early 2005, the city received a grant from the Annenberg Foundation, at the recommendation of Wallis Annenberg, for the reuse and rehabilitation of the site as a public beach facility.

The project design was developed with community input and the project is now under construction.

As evolution of the property has left few remnants of historic significance, city officials said the white pillars will play an integral role in connecting new features with old site elements. Lining the western side of the new pool house, the pillars will create a link between the historic pool and guest house, they said.

The pillars “will reference the spacing and orientation of the columns from the original mansion,” officials said. The project also includes space for meetings and events, picnic areas and gardens, a revitalized beach cafÈ, a new concessions stand, volleyball nets and beach tennis courts.

The Annenberg Community Beach Club is expected to open to the public in 2009.

Information, 415pch.smgov .net/.

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