Annenberg Community Beach House

The history of the Annenberg Community Beach House is the stuff of Hollywood legend: a mogul, movie star and a trailblazing woman architect play the leading roles.

“FF&P’s projects employ restraint not in an effort to wipe the historical slate clean but as framing devices to set off and help us examine the past.” – Christopher Hawthorne

In 1927, publisher Randolph Hearst commissioned a Greek Revival, oceanfront mansion as a home for his mistress, actress and philanthropist Marion Davies. The five-acre estate originally included a 100-room main house designed by William Flannery, as well as a guest house, gardens, tennis courts, and an elegant, marble-clad pool elaborately decorated with images of sea life. Only the Julia Morgan-designed guest house and pool—both historic landmarks—remain.
We wanted the beach house to serve as an inviting gateway to the ocean, impressive yet low-key and accessible at the same time. The site of the original mansion now holds a two-story building that accommodates changing areas and spacious, window-filled meeting, event, and community rooms. These open onto an ocean-facing terrace fronted by a white concrete colonnade that recalls the historic house façade’s location and scale—a whimsical “ghost.”