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Laguna Beach – History’s Favorite Seaside Destination

One of the best things about living in Laguna Beach is joining a community with a long, rich history. Not only do we enjoy perfect weather, gorgeous beaches and one-of-a-kind homes, but we also boast a town with distinctive character. Here’s a look back at what has made Laguna Beach the unique seaside city it is today.

Early days

The earliest known inhabitants of Laguna Beach date to the prehistoric paleo-indian period. The fossilized skull of the “Laguna Woman” was discovered on St. Ann’s Drive in 1933. Carbon dating found her remains to be somewhere between 8,000 and 17,000 years old.

Settlement in the 1800s

Laguna Beach was one of the few locations in Southern California to not be included in a Mexican land grant. The first American settlers began arriving after the Civil War. In 1871, George and Sarah Thurston built the first permanent homestead. Five years later, brothers Nate and William Brooks purchased and subdivided land in Bluebird Canyon. They built homes and created the first small community called Arch Beach. Consequently, Nate Brooks is credited as being the “Father of Laguna Beach.”

Expansion occurred in the 1880s. The first Laguna Beach greeter arrived in 1880 from Portugal, and a large hotel was built at Arch Beach in 1886. The city got its first post office in 1887 and began to attract local vacationers eager to escape the inland heat.

The artists arrive

In the early 1900s, the natural beauty of the area began to attract plein-air painters such as William Wendt, Frank Cuprien and Edgar Payne. Payne’s art gallery later became one of the first museums in California – the Laguna Art Museum. Another local institution – The Laguna Playhouse – soon followed, opening in the 1920s. It was during this time that Laguna Beach cemented its identity as a seaside artists’ colony.

The Festival of Arts debuted in 1932 as a way to attract business after the Olympics in Los Angeles. It was at this time that the first iteration of the Pageant of the Masters was launched by vaudeville performer Lolita Perine.

Hollywood moves in

Because of its close proximity to Los Angeles, Hollywood filmmakers soon began to use Laguna Beach as a filming location. For this reason, many celebrities maintained homes in the area. Notable stars living in Laguna Beach included Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Rudolph Valentino.

Laguna Beach incorporates

After the completion of the Pacific Coast Highway in 1926, many locals banded together to push for incorporation. As a result, on June 29, 1927, Laguna Beach officially incorporated as a city.

Laguna Beach today

Today, Laguna Beach maintains its artistic culture and vibe and continues to attract creative and successful people from many fields. It has become an A-list resort destination as a result of people from around the world flocking to our sunny shores. Residents enjoy seven miles of pristine coastline, 20 coves and beaches, world-renowned art festivals and some of the most distinctive and luxurious homes in coastal California.

More information

If you’d like more information about luxury Laguna Beach homes for sale, please click here or call 949-689-9047 to speak with John Stanaland.