Happy New Year! 2014 is a year of anniversaries for Dana Point. This is the 25th anniversary year for the City of Dana Point, officially incorporated on January 1, 1989. City Councilman Carlos N. Olvera has recently written a summary entitled “Rough Road to Cityhood,” printed in the January 3 Dana Point Times, which describes the 30-year process of becoming a city. While we are a young city in Orange County, Dana Point has a much older story and thus we can celebrate two other anniversaries of significant milestones in our community’s history this year. You can read his article here: http://www.danapointtimes.com/its-history-a-rough-road-to-cityhood/
2014 is the 90th anniversary of the original Bluff Top Park, located between today’s streets of Amber and Violet Lantern. Originally known as the Scenic Walk, it was built by the San Juan Point Corporation, the first company to break ground for a Dana Point community. In F. Weber Benson’s 1924 advertisement booklet, Dana Point California and Vicinity, photos illustrate the “Grotto Stairway from the Summit to the Sea” winding from the top of the bluffs to the rocky beach below, with sheltered benches on the paths of the bluff where visitors could rest and admire the Pacific Ocean view. A Scenic Inn picnic shelter, near the site of today’s stone Picnic Facility and Restrooms, was built on the beach, against the bluff, where prospective buyers were treated to lunch and the opportunity to buy lots in Dana Point. You can still observe the ruins of the original walkways and steps from the Bluff Top Park when you enjoy a stroll or workout along the bluff. The City of Dana Point approved the Bluff Top Park as a Significant Historic Resource, one of four approved as part of the Dana Point Historical Society’s 25th anniversary celebration.*
Even more impressive, 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the oldest extant building in the City of Dana Point. Blanche Dolph situated her primary residence so that it would have an impressive view that swept from Mission San Juan Capistrano to the unobstructed Pacific coastline. Blanche and her secretary, Lucilla McGaughey, lived in the home until their respective deaths in 1936 and 1945. In 1953 the house and property became the Capistrano-by-the-Sea Hospital together with additional structures built during the hospital’s operation, until closing in 1996. Later, the city required the developer of the proposed Bal Harbour community, as part of the development agreement, to restore the house into a private residence since it is one of the two most historically significant properties on the city’s Historic Survey. During the restoration by Fred Kiko and Associates, DPHS was privileged to have two public events on the property. In 2006 the house was auctioned and sold to a private owner. There will be more stories to tell in future articles about Blanche Dolph’s accomplishments, investments and local philanthropy. In the meantime, the home can be admired from the park next door, just before the entrance to the Bal Harbour gated property.
In addition to these three significant anniversaries, we look forward to interesting programs in the near future. We start off our new year with Richard Deffenbaugh’s presentation to the Historical Society of the RICHFIELD Aeronautical Beacon. February 26th promises a fascinating rendition of Capistrano Beach history with Joe Dunn and Wayne Shafer. This March we celebrate our coastal heritage with the Festival of Whales City Parade, Historic Society Walking Tours and the fourth public reading of Two Years Before the Mast, written by our namesake, Richard Henry Dana Jr. Join us!
Barbara Force Johannes
*The four significant historic resources and/or structures approved by the City were: the 1930 Arches, the preserved architectural remains of Woodruff’s Dana Point Inn; the 1924 Bluff Top Trail; the site of the 1924 Scenic Inn and the Blue Lantern Gazebo, c. 1925-27.