Monday, July 20, 2009

Heisler Building and Heisler Park


Howard G. Heisler

Summary

• In 1905 purchased North Laguna from the Irvine Company
• 1906 subdivision Laguna Cliffs was developed by Howard Heisler, L.C. McKnight and the Thumb Brothers
• This was the first neighborhood offering water with every lot.”
• Lots along the coast bluff top covering approximately 18.5 acres became Heisler Park
• Heisler Park includes planted areas, meandering paths, view points, gazebos and accessways to the By 1929 Mr. Heisler had second thoughts about not developing the primely situated coastal strand and decided to renege on his offer to dedicate the land for a park. Elmer Jahraus, a Cliff Drive resident and key entrepreneur in early Laguna, felt the decision to develop the land was wrong and filed suit. He won and the land has remained a park to this day.
• Before the city incorporated in 1927, business leaders served as the decision makers for the community. They operated first through the Laguna Beach Wharf and Improvement Co., formed in 1886, and later through the Laguna Beach Improvement Association, which developed into the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association in 1917; Elmer E. Jahraus presided.
• Heisler Building at 400 South Coast Highway built in 1931, Provincial Revival style, original owner H.G. Heisler
• Laguna Art Association (now Laguna Art Museum) at Cliff Drive and Coast Highway; the land was sold by Howard Heisler at half its market value and the art gallery building was constructed in 1928.

Pier off Heisler Point
From book “Laguna Beach An Illustrated, Narrative History” by Roger W Jones:
“second pier was constructed in 1896 off Heisler Point, just below Las Brisas Restaurant (formerly the Victor Hugo). It extended to the rock approximately 500 feet off shore.
In 1925 Tony Derkum applied to the United States Engineering Department (later named the Army Corps of Engineers) to build the third largest pier in Laguna's history - it would measure 1,150 feet. The permit was granted to Derkum and his brother-in-law, Forrest Carter of La Puente. A year later, in 1926, the pier was finished. Ed Hobert, a former Laguna Beach lifeguard, said Art Watkins caught the first fish from the new pier.
In 1927, Tony Derkum put an advertisement in Laguna Life, with the headline, Fish Where the Fish Bite! He charged $1.50 to transport fishermen (and fisherwomen) in his glass-bottom boat, which had been built by Gene Frank, to a barge he had anchored near the kelp.
In 1939 a severe winter storm badly damaged the pier and it had to be closed and later demolished."

From book “100 Years of Laguna Beach” Margaret Roley and others:
“ln 1896 Laguna's16 registered voters decided they needed a pier for themselves and their summer visitors. James lrvine donated $100 to the project, and t he site selected was south of Heisler point, where the Victor Hugo (now Las Brisas Restaurant) now stands. The citizens themselves felled the trees, blasted rocks, set the pilings into cement and built themselves a pier. For twenty years it was a pleasure center for everyone, then succumbed to old age. Later it was rebuilt and extended. This time it endured until 1939 when a 65 mile per hour gale finally toppled it.”

From Belinda Blacketer’s booklet “A Look Thru Time - Laguna Beach” Laguna's Piers
“In 1896, Laguna's sixteen registered voters and a handful? of winter residents got together and decided to so something about a pier to serve the town.
Nick Isch got James Irvine to donate $100 to the project. (He didn't hold a grudge.) The pier extended from the present Heisler Point, 500 feet out over Bird Rock. It was built from Eucalyptus trees cut in the canyon, and cemented into the holes Oscar Farman and Nick Isch blasted in the Rocks. It lasted almost 15 years and was rebuilt in 1911. It finally blew away.
A new pier was built in 1926 and lasted until a great storm in the late 1930's destroyed it. It was never rebuilt, but the remains of the supports can still be seen on Bird Rock.”

Laguna Art Museum, see http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/development/historic/18%20Cliff%20Drive%20Vicinity.pdf but no photo
307 Cliff Drive 1928 (E)
The Art Museum building is of brick and plaster construction, is two stories and features a central main entry off Cliff Drive. The rear portion is the original part of the building and the front wing is post WWII.
The present museum is an outgrowth of the Laguna Beach Art Association, founded by a group of artists in 1918 and spearheaded by artist Edgar Payne. It was through his interest in Laguna and its artists that the town became a popular art colony in the 20's and 30's. When local artists first began showing their work it was in the small one-room board and batten building located on the present site of the Hotel Laguna parking lot. These exhibits were a big success and pointed t o the need for a larger exhibiting facility.
When Payne left for Europe in 1922, artist Anna Hills assumed the Art Association leadership role, and under her the new and present gallery was built in 1928. The land was sold by Howard Heisler at half its market value; many of the local artists donated the proceeds from their paintings toward building construction costs. In 1948 Frank Cuprien died and willed his estate t o the Art Association. The money from the sale of his estate along with other contributions was used in constructing the Cuprien Memorial Gallery and the second story.
I n 1973 the Laguna Art Association became an incorporated museum. Today the museum specializes i n exhibiting representational Southern California art by past and contemporary artists. The Laguna Beach Art Museum has been designated Orange County Historical Landmark #.06.

See Laguna Cliffs Sales Brochure McKnight Sub-division.pdf

Laguna Cliffs
From A Short History of Laguna Beach and South Laguna” by Karen Wilson Turnbull
“North Laguna, called Laguna Cliffs, was developed by Howard Heisler, L.C. McKnight and the Thumb Brothers. In 1905 they purchased the land north of Laguna Creek to Emerald Bay, from the Irvine Ranch Company. They subdivided and laid out the only streets in Laguna that run in straight right angles to one another. Water was piped in from Laguna Canyon, and this was the first neighborhood offering water with every lot.”

Heisler Park from http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/community/projects/heisler/Appendix%20F%20Cultural%20Resource%20Assessment.pdf
Heisler Park is located in the City of Laguna Beach, north of Laguna Canyon Road and is a one-half mile coastal strip atop natural bluffs. Cliff Drive forms the eastern border, and the park grounds extends from Divers Cove to Main Beach along the ocean side. It is situated on the 7.5’ USGS Laguna Beach Quadrangle (1965, photo-revised 1981) (Fig. 1). Topographi¬cally, the park varies from sea level to about 60 feet at the bluff top and covers approximately 18.5 acres. “The park contains walking paths, lawns, gardens, picnic areas, and beach access ways” (City of Laguna Beach, Grant Request to the California Coastal Conservancy for the Preservation of Heisler Park, 2002:1) and includes benches, a lawn bowling area, restrooms, and a gazebo (ibid).

Heisler Park Lawsuit from http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/development/historic/18%20Cliff%20Drive%20Vicinity.pdf
Heisler Park is a long linear bluff-top park stretching from the front of Las Brisas Restaurant to just beyond Myrtle Street. The park includes planted areas, meandering paths, view points, gazebos and accessways to the beach below. A lawn bowling green and clubhouse established in 1931 is also in the park. Land for the park was set aside in 1906 when the Laguna Cliffs subdivision was created by L.C. McKnight and H.G. Heisler. By 1929 Mr. Heisler had second thoughts about not developing the primely situated coastal strand and decided to renege on his offer to dedicate the land for a park. Elmer Jahraus, a Cliff Drive resident and key entrepreneur in early Laguna, felt the decision to develop the land was wrong and filed suit. He won and the land has remained a park to this day.

Birth of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce
The Laguna Beach business community paved the way for the city. Before the city incorporated in 1927, business leaders served as the decision makers for the community. They operated first through the Laguna Beach Wharf and Improvement Co., formed in 1886, and later through the Laguna Beach Improvement Association, which developed into the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association in 1917. Joseph Skidmore, Roy Peacock, Frank Hansen, D.D. Whiten, C.V Weise, J.H. (Nick) Isch, Joseph Jahraus and H.G. Heisler attended the first Chamber meeting, November 2. Elmer E. Jahraus' father presided. Dues were $5 and another $5 went "to fight the telephone merger."
"President Jahraus told the members that the residents would have to develop a plan if the city was ever to amount to more than a dusty road that ended at the ocean." -- Chamber Minutes, Nov. 2, 1917


Heisler Building from http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/development/historic/7%20South%20Coast%20Highway.pdf
6. 400 South Coast Highway 1931 (E)
Known as the Heisler Building for its original owner H.G. Heisler, this Provincial Revival influenced building has graced this corner of Laguna since 1931. The building is distinguished by a box plan with mansard roof and steep-pitched gables with a modified turret on the corner. Faced in stucco. and lined with double-hung windows on the second floor, the building contributes greatly to the village quality of downtown Laguna.
The building was designed to house two commercial units below and two apartments above. Beginning in 1935, Ranson's Drug Store occupied the corner portion of the building where the Jolly Roger is now located. Beginning about this same time,
Dr. Conover, an osteopath, established his office here and remained for many years.
Howard Heisler, developer of the building, was an important real estate entrepreneur in the early days of Laguna. Along with L.C. McKnight he acquired most of the land which now compromises north Laguna from the Irvine Company and subdivided it in 1906 under the name Laguna Cliffs. This was the first tract in Laguna to have water directly piped to each lot, quite an achievement for its time.
This building on South Coast Highway is an important testimony to the memory of an important Laguna pioneer, H.G. Heisler.

Pier off Heisler Point
From book “Laguna Beach An Illustrated, Narrative History” by Roger W Jones:
“second pier was constructed in 1896 off Heisler Point, just below Las Brisas Restaurant (formerly the Victor Hugo). It extended to the rock approximately 500 feet off shore.
In 1925 Tony Durkum applied to the United States Engineering Department (later named the Army Corps of Engineers) to build the third largest pier in Laguna's history - it would measure 1,150 feet. The permit was granted to Durkum and his brother-in-law, Forrest Carter of La Puente. A year later, in 1926, the pier was finished. Ed Hobert, a former Laguna Beach lifeguard, said Art Watkins caught the first fish from the new pier.
In 1927, Tony Durkum put an advertisement in Laguna Life, with the headline, Fish Where the Fish Bite! He charged $1.50 to transport fishermen (and fisherwomen) in his glass-bottom boat, which had been built by Gene Frank, to a barge he had anchored near the kelp.
In 1939 a severe winter storm badly damaged the pier and it had to be closed and later demolished."

From book “100 Years of Laguna Beach” Margaret Roley and others:
“ln 1896 Laguna's16 registered voters decided they needed a pier for themselves and their summer visitors. James lrvine donated $100 to the project, and t he site selected was south of Heisler point, where the Victor Hugo (now Las Brisas Restaurant) now stands. The citizens themselves felled the trees, blasted rocks, set the pilings into cement and built themselves a pier. For twenty years it was a pleasure center for everyone, then succumbed to old age. Later it was rebuilt and extended. This time it endured until 1939 when a 65 mile per hour gale finally toppled it.”

From Belinda Blacketer’s booklet “A Look Thru Time - Laguna Beach” Laguna's Piers
“In 1896, Laguna's sixteen registered voters and a handful? of winter residents got together and decided to so something about a pier to serve the town.
Nick Isch got James Irvine to donate $100 to the project. (He didn't hold a grudge.) The pier extended from the present Heisler Point, 500 feet out over Bird Rock. It was built from Eucalyptus trees cut in the canyon, and cemented into the holes Oscar Farman and Nick Isch blasted in the Rocks. It lasted almost 15 years and was rebuilt in 1911. It finally blew away.
A new pier was built in 1926 and lasted until a great storm in the late 1930's destroyed it. It was never rebuilt, but the remains of the supports can still be seen on Bird Rock.”

Laguna Art Museum, see http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/development/historic/18%20Cliff%20Drive%20Vicinity.pdf but no photo
307 Cliff Drive 1928 (E)
The Art Museum building is of brick and plaster construction, is two stories and features a central main entry off Cliff Drive. The rear portion is the original part of the building and the front wing is post WWII.
The present museum is an outgrowth of the Laguna Beach Art Association, founded by a group of artists in 1918 and spearheaded by artist Edgar Payne. It was through his interest in Laguna and its artists that the town became a popular art colony in the 20's and 30's. When local artists first began showing their work it was in the small one-room board and batten building located on the present site of the Hotel Laguna parking lot. These exhibits were a big success and pointed t o the need for a larger exhibiting facility.
When Payne left for Europe in 1922, artist Anna Hills assumed the Art Association leadership role, and under her the new and present gallery was built in 1928. The land was sold by Howard Heisler at half its market value; many of the local artists donated the proceeds from their paintings toward building construction costs. In 1948 Frank Cuprien died and willed his estate t o the Art Association. The money from the sale of his estate along with other contributions was used in constructing the Cuprien Memorial Gallery and the second story.
I n 1973 the Laguna Art Association became an incorporated museum. Today the museum specializes i n exhibiting representational Southern California art by past and contemporary artists. The Laguna Beach Art Museum has been designated Orange County Historical Landmark #.06.

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2 Comments:

At 10:02 AM , Blogger Dr. vince Moses said...

Gene,
Do you know when Howard G. Heisler died? We have a copy of a building permit for the Howard G. Heisler house at 168 Crescent Bay Drive, but also a book reference stating that he died in 1933. Do you know the actual date of his demise?
Vince Moses
Riverside, CA

 
At 11:48 AM , Blogger Karen de Balbian Verster said...

Hi Gene -- In your blog entitled "Birth of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce," you mention Frank Hansen. I have info regarding my Dutch great grand uncle, Sjoerd Arnold de Balbian Verster (1862-1922)-- listed as
“Amerikaans staatsburger onder de naam Frank Hanson, koopman, burgemeester van Laguna Beach (California)” which translates "American citizen under the name Frank Hanson, merchant, mayor of Laguna Beach." I'm wondering if this is the same man, and if you would have any further info about him or his descendants.
thanks!

 

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