Friday, December 31, 2010

Disneyland's Hidden Tiki Bar

The title of today's post is a little misleading. The tiki bar we are going to look at was not physically located in Disneyland, but it was as close as you could get without being on Disney property.

This tiki bar was very unique because it was hidden in plain sight. Back in the late 1960s and thru the 1970s, there was so much commercial activity directly across the street from Disneyland (kitchy motels, googie coffee shops, mini golf courses, etc.)that this place remained hidden.

Commercial activity along Harbor Blvd. across the street from Disneyland

At the southeast corner of the intersection of Harbor Blvd. and Katella Avenue, in Anaheim, California was the Anaheim Holiday Inn (located at 1850 S. Harbor Blvd.).

In the bottom left corner of the above image, you can see the outside door and decorative beams that marked the entrance to Dobbs House Luau. This tiki bar had to compete visually with all of the clutter and beautiful wackiness along Harbor Blvd., and without their own large roadside signage, the place went practically unnoticed. Except for the guests staying at the Holiday Inn, this tiki bar was virtually unknown. Case in point, many years ago I worked at Disneyland while I was in college and drove by this place everyday and never knew it even existed.

Dobbs House Luau had several locations, including:

- Atlanta, Georgia
- Dallas, Texas
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Miami, Florida
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Houston, Texas
- Birmingham, Alabama
- Louisville, Kentucky
- Orlando, Florida

The inside of Anaheim Luau had two different themed dining rooms.

The Polynesian Room

As recently discovered by my friend Sven Kirsten, the interior decor was supplied by Oceanic Arts of Whittier, California, the preeminent Polynesian Pop culture supply house.

Mr. Henry Rose (originally from Honolulu), an ex employee of both Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic's, acted as a consultant to Dobbs House Luau (but I don't know in what respect). I assume he was involved with the interior decor based on the photo and caption shown below of Henry working on the Dallas, Texas location.

The second themed dining room was the Ship's Lounge. This room hosted a live floor show and in the background you can spot 3 skimpy clad wahine waitresses.

Construction for the Anaheim Holiday Inn began March 6, 1968. This photo is looking south directly into the adjacent Fujishige strawberry fields. These 50+ acre strawberry fields was the last piece of undeveloped property near Disneyland. The Walt Disney Company tried for many years to purchase the property from the Fujishige family to expand their Disneyland footprint, and was finally successful in 1998.

50 days later there is major progress on the hotel tower. On the left side of the photo, the lobby building to house Luau is already nearing completion.

An aerial photo of construction taken during that same time frame. In the upper left corner you can see the Samoa Motel, another Polynesian Pop Culture themed motel in the Disneyland area. Just off the right side of the photo, down a few blocks, you would have found the Pitcairn Motel with its classic tiki roadside signage.

This is an architectural rendering for the hotel property that has a beautiful depiction of Dobbs House Luau restaurant.

A closer detail shot of the restaurant. You can clearly see why this tiki bar remained hidden in plain sight for so long in the massive shadow of Disneyland. It clearly did not draw a lot of attention to itself from Harbor Blvd.

The suspended outrigger canoe canopy sports the Luau logo, which matches the company's logo used on all of their printed materials. There were planned ornamental doors to enter the restaurant and a large decorative mask to be placed on the exterior wall.

This is the entrance during construction. I don't know if the mask made it to the wall or if it had not yet been placed when this photo was taken.

Dobbs House Luau in Anaheim is long gone (I don't know when it closed) and the property is now operating as a Red Lion Hotel.

Red Lion Hotel in 2010.

I would like to thank my friends Sven Kirsten, Kinike and Sabu the Coconut Boy for providing some of the images used in this post.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tiki Homes - Orange County, California - Part 3

Let's take a look at the remaining three neighborhoods that were outlined in the OC Register article.

'B' Neighborhood (Costa Mesa)

1870 Tahiti Drive (built 1962)

How cool is it to have your mailing address be along Tahiti Drive? The white and aqua color scheme on this house help give it a MCM vibe and the lush landscaping and shake shingle roof really help to give it a Polynesian Pop aesthetic. The garage, with it's own peaked roof line, really adds to the overall impression of multiple buildings on this property.

2840 Ellesmere Avenue (built 1961)

Another example of the garage having its own roof line giving the impression of multiple buildings on site. This house has had the roof replaced, I assume the original material was shake shingles, and now they have asphalt shingles. That change in roof material types has a drastic affect on the overall appearance of the house and really knocks it down several ticks on the tiki scale.

1761 Pitcairn Drive (built 1960)

This is the same model as 2840 Ellesmere and they have also changed their roof.

1801 Pitcairn Drive (built 1963)

This home still has a strong tiki vibe due to its brown color scheme, the exterior landscaping and pilings and the roof still having shake shingles.

Here's a map for the last two neighborhoods.

'D' Neighborhood (Newport Beach)

The author of the article listed this neighborhood as having Polynesian inspired homes, however, I could not find any. The closest home I found that the author may have thought was a tiki house was located at..

332 Colton Street (built 1963)

This is an interesting beach design, but I would not call it a tiki house.

'C' neighborhood (Huntington Beach)

The original boundaries outlined in the article were quite large. After surveying the area, I have considerably reduced the area to the greatest concentration of tiki homes as outlined in this map.

Leilani Drive (built 1963)

But the crown jewel that I found after exploring these four neighborhoods was located at...

22091 Islander Lane (built 1962)

You know just looking at this house from the street that it is special. Like a great tiki bar, it has layers.

Immediately behind the curb notice the pilings, beach grass, barrel decor with nautical elements. Then the second layer consists of lush landscaping, palms, more pilings, and more landscaping before you reach the house.

I love what these owners did to their driveway. They removed the concrete and replaced it with inlaid wooden planks giving the impression of the bridge.

The garage...

The main house, note the attention to details in this shot...

- The nautical block & tackle on the front lanai
- The seagull and the ship's bell (the position of the bell makes me think they use this instead of a doorbell)
- Lobster trap on the roof
- Whale weather vain on the roof

More details on the side of the garage.

What a beautiful tiki home!

End of series.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tiki Homes - Orange County, California Part 2

Let's take a closer look at some of the 'tropical' residential architecture pointed out in the 2007 Orange County Register article. While not all of the homes are tiki or Polynesian, they are definitely exotic and make a bold statement.

The first two neighborhoods (A & B) are quite near each other.

The 'A' neighborhood:

3142 Killybrooke Lane (built 1963)

A subtle design with a purely decorative A-frame and extended roof lines. The garage roof hangs over the front door entrance and is supported with a nice privacy screen.

The house adjacent is currently listed for sale at $575,000. I don't know how that price relates to the real estate market in SoCal, but that's quite a bit of change for a small house.

3160 Sharon Lane (built 1963)

The two different roof angles for the second story and the garage make this house quite unique. If it was repainted from this grey color scheme, it would be very unusual.

The ornamental detail that hangs over the garage is not a design I have seen before.

1284 Londonderry Street (built 1963)

This house is the same design we found along Killybrooke Lane, but in a different color scheme.

A few more details from around the neighborhood.

I forgot to write down the address of this home, but it is in the neighborhood (somewhere).

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tiki Homes - Orange County, California - Part 1

A few years ago, the Orange County Register (Southern California newspaper) ran a story about tiki style residential architecture in Orange County. The article was pretty light on actual information, and in fact I disagree with several of the the author's points, but it did provide some references to potential hot spots to find tiki homes.

Orange County Register
Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tropical home revival
Evoke the island look without the kitsch


Is your tract home stuck in a time warp? Before you start thinking tear-down, I have some ideas to turn your outdated abode into a Design Forward haven.
Many of Orange County's homes were built during the architecturally challenged '60s, '70s and '80s. In this column, I'll zero in on the Pseudo Islander style of the '60s – one you might recognize as having a high double-pitched roof with a Polynesian theme.

Flash back to the '60s
On July 17, 1955, Walt Disney ushered in a whole new era as all eyes were on Orange County. Television broadcasts reached around the world as Disneyland's opening-day celebration captured not only the brilliance of Disney but the absolute beauty of Orange County. At that moment, little did anyone know the major effect Disney's dream would have on the development of agriculturally oriented Orange County. Cities surrounding Anaheim experienced a major surge in tract-home developments to provide housing for the new families eager to live the Orange County lifestyle. With land in such abundance, many single-story homes were constructed with large back yards.

The inspiration behind tract housing designs
The '60s brought more airline travel for the masses. One of the favorite destinations was (and still is) Hawaii. Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii" (1961), Don Ho and "Hawaii Five-0" were seen as iconic symbols of the time. Naturally, a trend in fashion, design and architecture was born. Even Disney reacted to this trend with the addition of the Tiki Room to Disneyland's attractions. Builders too, were quick to borrow this new tropical style. Beach towns like Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach began to feature new tract homes in Pseudo Islander – or, as I like to call it, the Trader Vic's Tiki Look. These homes are distinguished by steep double-pitched roofs, flared eaves, vertical board-and-batten siding and lava stone masonry.

Check out neighborhoods with Polynesian-style homes
A. Costa Mesa: This tract of homes is bordered by Fairview, Baker, Harbor Boulevard and the 405 Freeway.

B. Costa Mesa: This tract is bordered by Mesa Verde Drive East, Mesa Verde Drive West and Adams.

C. Huntington Beach: The tract is bordered by Brookhurst, Hamilton and Magnolia and actually has Polynesian names; one of the streets is called Tiki Circle.

D. Newport Beach: This tract is located on the northeast side of West Coast Highway (inland side) and is bordered by the canal, 62nd Street and Canal Street.

American tiki: rise, fall and semi-revival

1934:Don the Beachcomber serves the first Zombie in Hollywood.

1941:World War II sends millions of Americans to the South Pacific.

1944:Trader Vic's in Oakland serves the first Mai Tai.

1948:Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon-Tiki" and James Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific" are published.

1959: Hawaii becomes a state.

1963:The Enchanted Tiki Room opens at Disneyland.

1960s: It's the tiki heyday, with hundreds of bars and restaurants popping up. Tiki eateries show up in major hotel chains.

1979:Luau in Beverly Hills is bulldozed, an early victim of tiki's waning popularity.

1994:Trader Vic's in San Francisco closes. Tiki News, a revivalist magazine, begins publishing.

2000: Kahiki in Columbus, Ohio, closes, despite preservationists' plea.
"Book of Tiki" is published, fueling a tiki revival.

2003:"Tiki Road Trip" is published.

Costa Mesa's Kona Lanes, built in 1958, is bulldozed.

2005:Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room makes a refreshed appearance.

After this article came out, I explored each of the four listed neighborhoods and will share pictures of what I found in the next post of this series.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tiki Homes - Clairemont, California

While the Polynesian Tiki theme was actually frequently used in multi-family residential design (i.e., apartment complexes), the same is not true for its use in personal residences. That said, tiki style homes, while not common, do exist and I've shared some here on the blog in previous posts, like Anaheim, CA and Las Vegas, NV.

Next time you find yourself driving around in San Diego, CA, maybe attending Tiki Oasis, take a slight detour over to the neighborhood of Clairemont Mesa(near the 805 Freeway and Balboa Avenue). Centered around the intersection of Charger Blvd. and Barnhurst Drive you can find an occasional tiki designed house spread around the neighborhood. Most of the tiki style homes are in need of a little tlc, but the structure is there and these places could be very unique if cleaned up, painted and landscaped.

5554 Chandler Drive (built 1965)

This house has three of these great beam ornamental details, one on each side of the house and this one over the garage.

But the extension of the roof line down to this planter box is what really draws attention to this house. Note that the support beams are designed to look like bamboo poles (beautiful detail).

4560 Berwick Drive (built 1964)

The owners have removed the planter box in the front yard and cut off the roof extensions.

6846 Boxford Drive (built 1965)

Roof detail

This large dark pink bougainvillea bush, when in full bloom must be really impressive, but overall detracts from the unique roof line.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ashcraft Exotic Furniture by Heywood Wakefield

The year was 1954 and if you had picked up a copy of McCall's Magazine, you would have found this advertisement from Heywood Wakefield for their Ashcraft line of furniture. Perfect for anyone who wanted to transform their home into a exotic paradise, mid century style.

Let's start in the Living Room. What a beautiful MCM pattern for the cushions!

Then we move to the bedroom set, subtle, but a nice dresser and mirror set with bedside table.

The Dining Room set has a fantastic china cabinet. Wouldn't your collection of tiki mugs look great in that hutch?

The Enclosed Patio set has another collection of great MCM upholstery for the cushions. Note the side table, it can be used to conveniently store your magazine or hi-fi record collection.

And finally, we have the Playroom Set, including the bar. Just move the complete set into your basement rumpus room and you can be the instant hit of the neighborhood.