The Yellow Cottage

Known As
The Yellow Cottage, turn-of-the-century vernacular cottage
2219 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Saved from demolition in 2006, this landmarked building is representative of a turn-of-the-century vernacular cottage.  Tax records, Sanborn maps, and a city planning staff report estimate the date built anywhere from 1898 to 1909.

At the turn of the twentieth century, this building type was common in many parts of Santa Monica, particularly in Ocean Park.  A boxy mass crowned with a hipped roof, clad in wood clapboard, with a front porch, double-hung wood sash windows, and boxed (enclosed) extended and flaring eaves, it was a simple and practical home.

Enclosing the front porch – in this example, the porch has its own gable – was a common early alteration, particularly in windy Ocean Park.  The exterior was unornamented, but had features such as exterior window frames and a frieze under the eaves.   Often the wood inside the porch gable would create a richer pattern to contrast with the horizontal clapboard, such as fish-scale shingles, or square-cut shingles such as in this house. Bay windows and angled corners were other common features.  By 1918 a large bay window had been added near the northwest end of the cottage, and the rear portion had been extended.  According to building permits, owner Helen Andrade added a fence in 1937, and in 1946 owner J.A.  Agnew constructed concrete steps.  The metal hood over the front door is a later alteration, probably 1940s.  The irregular floor plan is the consequence of several additions to the rear of the dwelling over the years.

Early Owners

Andrew J.W. Keating may have been the earliest owner of the property.  The Santa Monica Daily Outlook (June 29, 1895) reports that Keating, originally from British Columbia, moved to Santa Monica.  He became a wealthy landowner with large holdings in the southern part of Los Angeles and in Orange County, as well as several parcels in Santa Monica’s Scott Addition (around the area that is now Santa Monica High School).   In 1901, Keating and two sons died in a shipwreck, and the 2219 Ocean property, as well as several of his Santa Monica properties, went to his heirs.  Delinquent tax notices, published in the Daily Outlook in 1908, list Keating heirs as delinquent on taxes for the cottage.  The family made headlines fighting over his will in court for several years thereafter.  The last of his children, a daughter, longtime resident of Brentwood died in 1989 at 102 years of age.

Other early owners of the property were Alfred and Helen Andrade, who were listed in the 1917 city telephone directory as residing at 2219 Ocean. However, the “New Arrivals” column in a 1911 Daily Outlook reports that a G. Tastaglio was in residence there, so there may have been other short-term residents prior to the Andrades.  The couple, or Helen Andrade alone, occupied the property off and on until 1936.

The Andrades made headlines in December 12, 1929, when Mr. Andrade accused Mrs. Andrade of trying to shoot him in front of his Beverly Hills home.  According to Mr. Andrade, she fired five shots, narrowly missing him.  Mrs. Andrade reportedly said that she shot at him “just to show him that I was still alive.”  Mrs. Andrade later filed suit against another woman claiming that the woman stole her husband’s affections.

Long-time owner William Hobson willed the property to the University of Illinois Foundation on his death in 2005, reportedly for a faculty retreat.  However, the Foundation applied for a demolition permit in 2006.  Neighbors and concerned Santa Monica residents mounted a “Save the Cottage” campaign.  Assisted by the Santa Monica Conservancy, the grass-roots campaign successfully petitioned the City Landmarks Commission to award landmark status to the cottage in June 2006. After a lengthy appeals process by the Foundation, the City Council ultimately upheld the landmark designation.

Current owners John and Donna Heidt purchased the cottage in 2008 and have since done considerable work to repair and preserve the house.  In recognition of their efforts, the Heidts received a 2009 Santa Monica Conservancy Preservation Award.  The Heidts also applied for and received a Mills Act Contract providing property tax incentives for a proactive plan to restore and maintain the property in 2009.

The Neighborhood

What we know as Ocean Park today was originally South Santa Monica and included Venice.  It was destined to be a resort area.  In 1893, Abbot Kinney and his partner, F.G. Ryan, donated a portion of their South Santa Monica holdings to the Southern California YMCA as a resort for their members.  The Santa Monica Daily Outlook reported in 1893 that the YMCA chose the site based on transportation and its “fine, clean sandy beach with a gentle slope .”   By 1895 the Santa Fe station there had changed its name from South Santa Monica to Ocean Park. The desirable area with easy rail access, beaches, pleasure piers, and amusement parks drew visitors and settlers to the area.

Cottages resembling the yellow cottage were common and within the first years of the 20th century there were more than 700 in the area.  In 1911, Ocean Park and Venice separated when Venice residents voted to establish their own identity and Ocean Park remained part of Santa Monica.

 The area around the yellow cottage began to be improved, with houses in the early 1900s but parcels to the west along Ocean Avenue between Pacific and Strand Avenues remained unimproved, largely because the land dropped off at the beach-facing edge above Hollister.  Speedway, now Barnard Way, was a clear demarcation between the north-south facing dwellings east of the Speedway and the beach-facing rooming houses, transient hotels, apartment buildings, restaurants, and storefronts that were constructed to the west prior to World War II. There was no similar development along Ocean Avenue north of Hollister where the cottage is located, and as late as 1950 many of those parcels remained vacant.

After 1950 the character of the neighborhood   altered as multi-family buildings replaced single-family residences.  Today, in the immediate area along Ocean Avenue, only the cottage and its neighbor on the next parcel north, a two-story fourplex built in 1925, were constructed prior to World War II.  The yellow cottage stands alone to remind us of early Santa Monica’s beach dwellings.