By the Sea – A Visit To the Marion Davies Guesthouse

Now, it’s no secret that I love old Hollywood. The films, the stars, the glamour! Luckily, I live in Southern California where there’s always some place connected to the Golden Age that’s still around. And if it’s still around, you can be sure I’m going there. And that’s just what I did when I made a visit to the Marion Davies Guest House in Santa Monica.

So, have you heard of Marion Davies?


She’s a star that dates back to the days of silent films. She had a flare for comedy but starred in every genre. She was also one of the few actresses who was able to transition from silents to talkies without losing her status as a star. But her talent as an actress was overshadowed by the fact that she was the long term mistress of William Randolph Hearst (he of the newspapers and the castle and the Citizen Kane inspiration). He discovered her, he got her started in motion pictures, and he lavished her with expensive gifts such as a Santa Monica beach house.

But the beach house isn’t what’s pictured above. Nope, that’s just the guest house. Here’s what the beach house looked like.


Ginormous, right? It had over 100 rooms including 55 bathrooms! It was built for Marion by Hearst in the 1930’s but by the 1950’s it was demolished. Now, only the pool and the guest house remain. (If you look at the far right of the picture you can see the guest house in the upper corner.)

While I’m super bummed that the main house was demolished I am happy that a part of the estate remains. I and I’m even happier that it’s open to the public. And I’m super duper happy that admission is free!

The guesthouse is now officially part of the Annenberg Community Beach House – a community center that includes a public pool, an exhibit hall, and a restaurant among other things. Docents are available to provide tours throughout the grounds. I highly recommend taking one as the docents provide much background information on the house and Davies and Hearst, as well as the status of the grounds today.
love the built in!
that’s an original chandelier
Cary Grant
Barbara Stanwyck and Mr. Hearst
original cedar lined closets
original bathroom tile work
more tile work
a view from the foyer

The guest house is huge. It’s two stories with five bedrooms. That’s bigger than my house! And it was only a guest house!

No furnishings remain, but the building itself still contains much of its original character. The dining room contains pictures of celebrities at many of the themed parties thrown on the grounds. The photos above show Cary Grant and Barbara Stanwyck at a Western themed party. And that ship tile work? that was uncovered under layers of white paint!

As I mentioned before, the only other remaining feature is the pool.  Originally only available to guests it’s now open to the public.

It looks like they’re loving it!

The Marion Davies Guest House  @ The Annenberg Community Beach House
415 Pacific Coast Highway
Santa Monica, CA 90402
the house is open on various days, check the website for the schedule
admission is free!

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