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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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August 31, 2012     The Catalina Islander
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August 31, 2012
 

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REAL ESTA'rE time capsule august Researched by Chuck Liddell, Compiled by Jennifer Leonhardi Beginning earlier this year, the Catalina Islander's weekly "Time Capsule" column periodi- cally now goes further back in Catalina Island's. history than ever before. This special feature called "Catalina Rediscovered" covers Avalon's history, with this issue beginning one of two parts covering of 124 years ago--the year 1888. Based on documents from the Catalina Island Museum's "ex- tensive archive of journals, such as the Catherine MacLean Loud manuscripts, contemporary news- papers, 0ral history interviews and even old photographs, "Time Capsule" will cover Avalon's very beginnings. If you have any ques- tions; suggestions, or comments, please send them to me: Liddell@ Catalinas.net The new Metropole Hotel was up and running, but their advertising showed it as the "Metropoe"(this misspelling was on all of their lin- en, stationery, dishes, and maps. It would not be corrected until the summer of 1889). The over-opti- mistic speculative buying boom in Southern California had hit a ma- jor bump and George Shatto was having trouble selling his parcels of land for anything close to what he had hoped to get. Charles Sumner Was greatly distraught by the disinterest of Island visitors in buying Avalon properties. The first "auction" was held on July 12, one year to the date after Shatto had purchased the Island. The Eureka and "Fal- con" were charted to bring inter- ested parties over at $2.75/person. Lots valued at $800-$1,0.00 sold for $150-$160. Twenty four lots were sold at the aggregate sum of $7,000. Avalon was still suffering from the deluge of rain that hit it during the Winter and the dirt roads with clumps of cacti were less than wel- coming to the tourists who weren't used to tramping through mud and rock, especially when the women were used to wearing low flowing white dresses. The "Burlington Railroad" was on strike and so that delayed many of the passen- gers who had to utilize it to get the South Bay area, On the bright side, the flimsy ramp and float had now been re- placed by a short pier (the location of the first Four of July fireworks display). The Falcon was now on a regular schedule from San Pedro. With a large amount of advertising letting the tourists know that they could bring their own tents or tents would be provided by the Metro- pole Hotel, the hotel was full for the first time. For those who were into "bathing" in the beautifully clear waters of Avalon, a bath house was built on the East corner of Crescent and Sumner Avenues. Still the ever optimist, Shatto brought into service the-Emily from the Wilmington,TranSporta- tion Co., owned by the-Banning brothers, but even he had to give in to the oious touris,ump and so only used the Vessel three or four crossings. He chartered the Ferndale in February on a one- year basis only, but the ride was so uncomfortable that her term of use only lasted until late in the sum- mer. The Ferndale sailed Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, return- ing to the mainland on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with a round trip fare of $3. The yacht Nellie often chartered guests over from San Pedro. So impressed with the boat's ability to sail the often rough seas between Catalina and the mainland, Shatto placed George Shatto the black hulled schooner, Ruby, into service on March 16. (When the ships, arrived, a cannon went off in Avalon. The ships respond- ed with three whistles.) On this maiden voyage, it brought over Captain Alonzo Wheeler, his wife, Sophia A. Pool Wheeler, his mother, Mrs. Esther Parsons Wheeler, and his mater- nal twin uncles, Captain Nathaniel and Captain Theophilus Parsons. The Ruby was often used to bring over lumber, supplies, and mail to this new growing town. Theophi- lus ("Thof") set up residence at his favorite cove on the west end of the Island, which took on his name, Parsons' Landing. Captain Wheeler lost not time in purchas- ing two front lots on the west cor- ner of Crescent and Sumner ave- nues and pitched his tent as home. Behind his home, in a large tent, he constructed a brick oven and began Avalon's first bakery. On the second lot, he erected the rooming house hotel, which became know as Avalon Home. There he kept 15 head of cattle and one bull named Major. They produced two kinds of milk: steamer and children's. A carpenter from Canada, he was restless for find good paying jobs. The economy on the main- land had pretty much bottomed out and those with his experience were only getting paid $2/day for a 9-12 hour day. Dreaming of moving to Australia, John Doug- las: MacLean (born in Ashfield, Inverness Co., Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, April 1, 1860) found himself working for a Mr. McK- enzie who was the son of his em- ployer in Canada. Mr. McKenzie had worked on the building of the Metropole Hotel and had told John that there was still work to be done in Avalon. When asked by John, "What's over there?" the response from Mr. McKenzie was, "There's nothing over there, but it's the most beauti- ful place you ever saw!" John Douglas MacLean was to spend the rest of his life on the Island and was responsible for many of the first buildings to grace this new village of Avalon,:' One of the first was to build a "dog house" for Frank Cot- ter of Alameda. He had purchased a home high atop Metropole Avenue and wanted the small- est place possible built, with a room and a lean- to 'kitchen. When asked why he wanted such a small residence, he said, "I know too many folks on the mainland who will visit me here!" MacLean did and for his labor Ma- cLean received the up- per portion of his lot on which MacLean built his family home, 160 feet above Beacon Street. That is where the "Hotel St. Lauren" now stands. Others were being lured over by the charm of the Island. Seaton Eddy and his family came for a visit and fell in love with the Is- land. They purchased a lot half. way up the block on the west side : of East Whittley Avenue where the "Catalina House" was built by John MacLean for John Nest- elle and Seaton Eddie with rooms and dining service. Stephen Doug- las came to visit his niece, Emma Douglas, and ended up starting a confectionery store. Alexander "Sandy" Walter Macdonell located in Avalon and started a boating business, on the beach, North of the pier. John Brinkley, from Saint" Mary's, Suffolk, England, trav- eled with Shatto's permission to Catalina to settle and cultive the valley of White's Landing, about 4 1/2 miles north of Avalon. He and others planted an acre of gar- den truck including watermelons and tomatoes. Their room was a  one room shanty built originally by Michael White and later live in by Frank Whittley. Three times a week John loaded a skiff with vegetables and rowed to Avalon to sell to residence and especially the Metropole Hotel. Jimmy Elms purchased, at 5 cents each, all of the watermelons that his rowboat could hold. He would store them under the pier to keep them cool and would sell them to the thirsty campers. John later moved to Ava- lon, lived in a shack for the rest of his life up Avalon Canyon, and was affectionately known as Avalon's "Chicken Johnny." Summer without fresh fruit was a trial until the "Falcon" brought fresh fruit on each trip. At other Capsule, Page 13. 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Beoufifdly appointed! $399,000 Villa'! 7-80 - 2 BD, 2 CA, pde includes land purchasd. $699,900 Villa 4-13 ~ Bankruptcy sale, subject to court approval. 2BD, 2BA, ocean view! $489,000 342.5 - $479,000 20 Fairdew Terrace - .5499,000 120141 Street - $639,350 327 Clerissa Cottage - $540,000 HC V'lo 16 - $499,000 tic Vik 18-74- $749,000 316 Summm"- $499,000 " 211 Ckrissa - $1,299,000 52 Fairvlew Terrace - $49,000 339 llesamo - $579,000 162  Terrain - $999,999 217 Beacon A - $629,000 IK  !-59 - $499,000 191 bmmTeem- $799,50O HC Vila 2-32 - $379,000 227 Beacon A - $74O,OOO 333 aad.a -$849.OOO 117 Vieuddoe - $925,000 257 L Whittley - $699,000 87 Sol Vista - $3O5,O0O 226 lodsso - $899,000 38 RodrrJur - $1,399,000 1;HE CATALINA isLANDER ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 16riday, AtJgu,;c3';i,2OJ.:913