Friday, June 28, 2013

The Santa Monica Post Office at 1248 5th Street will close permanently on Saturday, June 29 at noon. The Main Post Office in Santa Monica is an Art Deco style building constructed with Works Progress Administration funding during Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. The building was opened to the public at a dedication ceremony on July 23, 1938.

Dedication and cornerstone laying Program for USPO in Santa Monica on July 23, 1938

Crowds at the July 23 dedication

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pompeiian House built by Felix Peano

Built in the style of an opera house, Italian-born sculptor and visionary Felix Peano, designed this house at 128 San Vicente Blvd. in Santa Monica. The house remained in this location from its completion in the early 1900s until 1931. Peano designed the bridges over the canals in the ill-fated Venice of America built by Abbot Kinney in 1905. He was also noted for a particular copper door style, working in undercut copper, called "door of life." Peano was born in Parma, Italy in 1864 and died in Hawthorne, California in 1946. He was a close friend of Jack London.

An article detailing the architectural and design elements appears in Achitectural Record, vol. 29 (1909) - "The Sculptor as His Own Architect and Builder." The house was described as isolated when built, but Peano provided for all the amenities including gas, water, drainage, electricity and electric cars. The article is viewable in Google Books and includes details not only about the construction and several images, but biographical data about the home designer and builder.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

First free public library founded on April 9, 1833 - Santa Monica in 1893

The Peterborough Town Library in New Hampshire is the oldest tax supported library in the world.

Santa Monica formed its first Library Association in 1976 for a $2.00 annual fee. The Reading Room was turned over to the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WTCU) in 1888. The WTCU turned the collection of 800 books over to the City of Santa Monica in 1890. Santa Monica's first City Librarian, Miss Elfie A. Mosse, was appointed in December that same year. Two rooms in the Bank of Santa Monica building on Oregon Avenue (now Santa Monica Blvd.) and Third Street were used for the library. Use of the materials in the reading rooms was free. Borrowing priveleges cost 25 cents a month, which would have been $75.00 in 2012. The Santa Monica Public Library was determined free to the public in March, 1893 with 1,800 volumes, including books, newspapers, and magazines.

Elfie A. Mosse, City Librarian when appointed in 1890

Monday, March 18, 2013

Camera Obscura

Santa Monica's camera obscura,originally located on the northern portion of Santa Monica's beach was built and donated by Robert F. Jones, the nephew of one of Santa Monica's early founders, Senator John P. Jones and open to the public on APril 21, 1899. The camera obscura was moved to Palisaded Park in 1902 due to weather conditions down at the beach. The instrument was last moved to a specially built room in the Seniro Recreation Center at 1450 Ocean Avenue in November 1955.

The idea of a 'pin-hole' camera originated before Aristotle, which he used to observed the sun during a partial solar eclipse. The camera obscura works by creating an inverted image of the scene outside the darkened rooms window through a small hole. Camera obscura were found on coasts for the amusement of beach-goers in the Victorian era. A 360 degree view of the surrounding area is possible when you visit Santa Monica's camera obscura.

    Camera Obscura in Pacific Palisades showing an image of the Deauville Club in the  
                                                               mid to late 1950s

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gertrude "Gussie" Moran

Gertrude Moran was born and grew up in Santa Monica. Her family lived in a Queen Anne-style home, circa 1891 at 1323 Ocean Avenue. The house was designated a local historical landmark in the 1980s. Gussie began playing tennis at the age of 11 and was a member of the Santa Monica High School Girls' Team. in the 1940s. Ms. Moran was notable in the tennis world for being a style-setter with her tennis garb at the championship tournament in 1949 at Wimbledon. Ms. Moran died on January 16, 2013 at the age of 89 in Los Angeles, California/