Beach houses are a lot like golf clothes, much more colorful and relaxed than their weekday counterparts and that can make them so much more interesting. Recently, one of these houses caught my eye – down in the seemingly unlikely spot of San Pedro. Today, San Pedro is known mostly as the busy industrial port of Los Angeles, but it has some surprisingly nice coastline that rivals nearby Palos Verdes and even Malibu.
In 1928, Charles S. Jones, vice president and treasurer of the Rio Grande Oil Company (soon to be president of Richfield Oil) commissioned the Los Angeles firm of Weston & Weston to design a seaside cottage for himself and his family on a spectacular clifftop site at 2049 West Paseo De Mar.
The father and son team of Weston & Weston must have had a lot of fun designing the Jones’ beach house, which was constructed of wood and stone quarried directly on the site and located 150 feet above the crashing surf at Shark Tooth Shoals near White’s Point. The rambling, almost random, layout of the house gives the illusion of a home that evolved over time, perhaps by subsequent generations of owners, a casual look that was no doubt carefully worked out by the architects. Starting with the garage, the home makes its way toward the cliff edge before turning around on itself at an odd angle. This allows for a gracious and generously sized entry court with stone pathways surrounding a fish pond. Stone patios open up off of every room of the first story of the house including a wide covered porch on the landward side.
The interior was equally unique and interesting with a clear separation between the public and the sleeping rooms. The 22 x 22′ hexagonal stone living room was anchored by a massive fireplace and beamed ceiling and opened up to the dining room, which, in turn, led off to the kitchen and servant’s wing. Located above the living room and accessed solely by an outdoor staircase was the “Tower Room,” the home’s master bedroom, with its own bath, 360 degree views and all the romance and privacy anyone could ask for. Perched atop the Tower Room was the home’s signature tower, an eye-catching bit of whimsy that adds greatly to the overall charm of the structure. “There is a naive charm about this little place,” wrote California Arts & Architecture in 1930, “which is not so tiny after all.” Indeed, the house is bigger than it might at first appear especially with the discovery of an enormous 15 x 26′ “Game Room,” hidden away down a stone path and staircase a few yards below the house. Between that and the wide stone covered terrace above it, one could hardly imagine a more perfect setting for summer entertaining.
Other than the addition of neighbors on either side of it, the beach house Weston & Weston designed for Charles S. Jones in 1928 still retains much of its original charms and remains as M. Urmy Seares described it as “a picturesque silhouette against the ocean sunset.