Woods Cove – The Story

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Woods Cove – The Story

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Woods Cove – The Story

Starting with the twin cities – Arch Beach and Laguna Beach

In the late 1800s, the Woods Cove area was originally called Arch Beach and was a separate town from Laguna Beach.

It even had its own post office.

The reason for the twin city effect was that wagons could not go between the two towns due to the deep gullies of Bluebird and Sleepy Hollow Canyons.

So while Laguna Beach could be accessed by the Laguna Canyon, Arch Beach could only be accessed by Aliso Canyon. In fact, to get to Laguna Beach from Arch Beach you had to go all the way around Aliso to El Toro to Laguna Canyon.

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The Arch Beach Tavern was built to house visiting potential buyers of Arch Beach properties. It later housed actors for the movies made in the area. It is now an apartment building at the corner of Moss and Catalina.

As with much of the surrounding areas at the time, it was primarily used for farming, and even had a pier off of Diamond St where they exported barley hay via ship to San Diego for feeding the stage coach horses. Alas this was short lived once the railroad came to SoCal.

The farms were replaced with a resort destination hotel, called the Arch Beach Hotel. The forerunner of the tourist destination town we have today.

It was located at the corner of Diamond and the Coast Hwy. and was very successful until the late 1800’s when a financial and real estate bust be felled the country.

But never- the- less the word was out. Laguna is a great place to visit, as well as to build your beach house.

Residential Development

It wasn’t till 1915 through the 20’s that they started building the many summer cottages, artists’ studios and dream homes that we still see to this day.

There was no design review or governing body prior to 1927 so it was fair game to build with has much individuality as you liked.

The spontaneity of development can still be seen in the informal layout of the streets (no curbs or gutters), irregular setbacks, odd-shaped lots and, most importantly, the lack of uniformity among the architecture.

In other words, it was the foundation of the quintessential eclectic Laguna Beach.

Name Change

An interesting tidbit is that the neighborhood’s name was changed to Woods Cove after a businessman from Colorado, Harry Woods, bought the land around the cove.

Note: It’s Woods Cove and not Wood’s Cove

A few of the Historical People and Celebrities that lived in the area:

The famous actress Bette Davis had a home you can still see today on the bluff on Woods Cove.
William Wendt, one of Laguna’s premier original plein air artists had a studio, that is still there, on Arch Street.

Even Woodrow Wilson convalesced in a house on Moss Point after his stroke during his presidency.

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“The Way it Was” watercolor of the old Wood’s Cove staircase by Roger Folk, long time exhibitor at the Festival of the Arts. Nowadays staircase is all concrete and iron rails but not nearly as fun to descend as it’s rickety, rotten predecessor from the ’60’s.

Architecture:

There is almost every type of architecture imaginable in the Woods Cove community.

First, there are the big luxury homes that sit on the cove bluffs, then the small bungalows, as well as the craftsman style houses. And that just the beginning with modern, mid century, Tuscan, adobe and normandy also sprinkled in throughout the area.

Walkability:

One of the other reasons the area is so popular is you can walk to the beach and local stores in just minutes and to the Laguna downtown area in about 15 to 20 minutes via the beach or along the scenic back roads.

It’s about as far South as you can go and still have a comfortable walk to the village.

Also, the locals love to walk their dogs and meander through the neighborhood, especially on Glenneyre, the old goat path, where they’ll pass many of their neighbors doing the same thing.

Ocean Views:

Woods Cove has a mild uphill slope from the ocean providing many homes with an ocean view. This results in the double benefit of view and walkability which is usually sacrificed when living on the steep hillsides.

The Coves:

A unique attribute of Woods Cove, and Laguna in general, is the many relatively small but world class coves, such as Moss, Ruby, Agate and Woods Coves. They have beautiful flora rich cliffs, as well as ocean bluff homes of every shape and architecture.

The crystal blue water is great for diving and exploring the kelp beds.
The locals enjoy walking down to the beach after work, take a swim, hang out with their friends and take the edge off with a glass of wine.

So say ‘hi’ when we see each other walking in the area. Everyone else does.

For more pictures and a place to submit your stories please visit facebook.com/woodscovelagunabeach

*Trivia: did you know that the Fairview Development Company/ Santa Ana Immigration Association had laid out a town called “Catalina-on-the-Main” just southeast of Arch Rock in 1888? They applied for and received a US Post office but it was never built, as this venture failed shortly thereafter. Also in the early 1900s, what is now the “Woods Cove area” was planned to be developed and called “Seawood” as a seaside resort. The property was owned by Clemma E. Woods.(Were we get “Wood’s Cove” from) The site was surveyed and a tract map filed with the County on February 19, 1907, and they received a Post Office commision, but once again the project never came to
fruition. Had these projects succeeded “Arch Beach”, “Catalina on the Main” & “Seawood” would have all predated “Laguna Beach” as townships by several years. *edited text from the Orange County Historical Archives & the National Archives materials.

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John Garfield and Lana Turner, Woods Cove. *during filming of “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, 1946


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