Norman House and Victoria Beach Tower

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Then & Now

By Laguna Beach Magazine Staff

The iconic tower at Victoria Beach in the 1900s | Photo courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society
The iconic tower at Victoria Beach in the 1900s | Photo courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society

Like a castle turret emerging from the shore, the tower at Victoria Beach captivates visitors who ponder its purpose. No doubt, many a child has imagined Rapunzel sitting at the top with her long tresses billowing from one of the small, rectangular windows and a prince climbing up to rescue her.

Built in 1926, at the same time as the Norman House on the cliff above, the 60-foot-tall concrete tower with a stone foundation provides a more utilitarian function: A wooden spiral staircase inside allows access from the beach to the home, which was constructed for William E. Brown and his family as a summer residence. William was a California senator from Los Angeles and a noted Christian Science lecturer, according to the state’s Historic Resources Inventory.

Photo by Foster J. Eubank
Recent image | Photo by Foster J. Eubank

The French Provincial Revival home—nicknamed La Tour and featuring steeply pitched, multigabled roofs and stained glass windows—was acquired in the early 1940s by retired naval officer Harold Kendrick, an intriguing character who dressed as a pirate and decorated the house in a similar fashion, endearing himself to the local children. Harold stocked the abode with games and puzzles for the neighborhood kids to play, awarding coins from his bowl of “cold cash”—stored in the refrigerator—to the winners. He is also said to have created a treasure hunt by tucking coins in the tower’s many crevices for the children to find. Now, the structure remains a treasure in the pages of Laguna’s history.

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