The Tower from Europe

January 02, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

La Tour Tower in Laguna Beach

In 1925, California State Senator William E. Brown, who represented the 37th District, was at the end of his rope. His wife was constantly complaining about the stifling 85 degree heat (!) of Beverly Hills and wanted a summer retreat where the temperatures were cooler. They built a French provincial revival style house on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in south Laguna Beach. Senator Brown had settled in Los Angeles from up state New York in 1886 and found his California fortune in manufacturing. He and his wife spent time in France after World War I helping in the war relief effort. It is perhaps there they got the inspiration for not only their house design, which in and of itself is unique and historic as one of Laguna Beach's landmark homes, but also for the medieval-looking tower to their beach below. The tower gave them direct access to the beach from their house some 50 feet on the bluff above.

The tower is 60 feet tall and is made of poured-in-place reinforced concrete, coated with cement plaster, with a rubble stone base and a conical shaped wood-shingled roof. Small iron latticed clad openings in the tower give light to the interior heavy wood spiral staircase.

Just to the south of the tower is a round, low-walled concrete structure thought to be a seawater pool also built by Brown for his family to enjoy the ocean water without them having to swim in the rough seas of the Pacific.

In 1940, Brown sold the house and tower to a retired Naval officer by the name of Harold Kendrick. He brought new life to the tower's existence by playing the role of a seafaring pirate and hiding gold treasure coins in the cracks and crevices of the tower structure for the neighborhood kids to discover. Some conjecture that this is why the tower is often referred to as the Pirate Tower. Another past owner of the house and tower is Hollywood diva Bette Midler and her artist husband Martin Von Haselberg.

In February of 2012 the tower was condemned by a Laguna Beach building inspector because it was no longer fit for human occupancy due to hydrostatic compression, a result of the endless pounding by the Pacific Ocean. Plaster was cracking and pieces of concrete falling to the beach below. However, the tower is still standing and enjoyed by tourists and locals alike. It is located at the north end of Victoria Beach and only accessible by a public access stairway about a 1/4 mile to the south. To view the tower up close does require climbing over rock outcroppings and dodging waves at mid to high tide. 

This photo was taken with an Apple iPhone 6 Plus at full resolution of 2448 X 3264, f/2.2 at an exposure of 1/2600, no flash.

 


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