By Laguna Beach Magazine Staff
Hotel Laguna, the romantic white building with Spanish-style arches and a rooftop bell tower on South Coast Highway, didn’t always look like this; the current building was dedicated in 1930 after several reconstructions. The original structure burned down two months after opening, but was rebuilt in 1888 and proved successful in renting rooms to the many visitors who flocked to this picturesque seaside community. After changing hands a few times, the hotel was purchased in the mid-1890s by Joe and Kate Yoch, who had built a cottage on the beach and worked with other owners to install a boardwalk. The Yochs also bought the Arch Beach Hotel (constructed by Hubbard Goff in 1886) and moved the two properties together at the current site by the southeast end of Main Beach Park. They called it the New Hotel Laguna and it was visited by celebrities such as actress Helena Modjeska, after whom the Modjeska Canyon was named. In the late 1920s, however, the board-and-batten hotel was condemned and demolished because it was believed to be a fire hazard. It was replaced with a new building, which still stands today as a beloved Laguna landmark.