278 Ocean Blvd

Open to the public
at no-charge most
Friday, Saturday
 & Sundays
from 1-4pm

For information,
Call 497-4525


Laguna Beach Historical Society Murphy Smith HouseAbout the Laguna Beach
Historical Society

The Laguna Beach Historical Society is proud to make available to the residents and visitors to Laguna Beach, a little corner of the past, a look at how Laguna used to be. If we have volunteer docents available, the Murphy-Smith bungalow is open most Friday, Saturday and Sundays from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

The Muphy-Smith house was built about 1923. It is listed in the City’s historical inventory and is described as “A builder bungalow with a box plan, multi-gabled roof and clapboard siding.” This house, listed in the City's historical inventory, is important because it is one of the few old beach houses remaining in the downtown proper. Until the 1950's most of Ocean Avenue was residential. This bungalow, built in about 1923 is typical of the period. It has a cellar, and rumor has it that bootleg liquor was stored in it during prohibition. It is described as a builder-bungalow with a box plan, a multi-gabled roof and clapboard siding. Wide wood posts support the porch gable. The main door has side light windows, and French doors open onto the bedroom.

The house was originally built for the Murphy family, who owned the land up to the corner at Beach Street, and lived here full time. A cistern provided water for the family. In 1935 Claudia Clapp, who owned a Boarding House across the street, acquired the bungalow. She sold it to her daughter Blanch Clapp, who worked on Forest Avenue at the Covern Bakery, known later as Trotter's, then as the Renaissance and now the site of the Pomadoro restaurant.

During WWII she would rent out one of the bedrooms to service personnel and their wives. Blanch married in the early 1950's, becoming Blanch Clapp Smith. She moved with her husband to Los Angeles until the late 1950's when her husband took ill, and they returned to this house. Mrs. Smith was a familiar figure working in her garden, sweeping the porch and talking with passers by. The front yard was always dirt, never planted, for some reason. Mrs. Smith was known for her daily constitutional to Main Beach, and was frequently seen gardening in her backyard. The red rose bush in the back yard was planted by her
. She lived in the house until her death in 1990.

A rotating display of Laguna memorabilia is on display in the bungalow which is decorated in style of a 1920's beach bungalow. Up to 80 8" x 10" laser copies of old Laguna historic photograph's are available for sale. Laguna has colorful and interesting history we would like to share with you.

We are hoping that Wells Fargo Bank will renew the lease, which expires in December 2007, and we would like to acknowledge their generosity in leasing the bungalow to the society for $1 per year.

In 1994, the City of Laguna Beach gave the Historical Society $10,000.00 which went for materials to rehabilitate the house, the Soroptomist Club donated $1,000.00 which went to a partial re-roofing of the house, painting the house and fence, and replacing the hot water pipes. The City of Laguna Beach has provided funds annually from their Community Assistance Fund.

The Chamber of Commerce Beautification Committee donated two trees for the back yard, and rose bushes for the rear garden, and even had the trees planted for us. The restoration was due to the dedication of our previous President Belinda Blacketer and her father Doc Blacketer donated over $16,000.00 volunteer labor and did most of the labor restoring of the bungalow.

We are blessed with a knowledgeable
Board of Directors, many of whom have lived in Laguna for many years. They are available to answer questions or give advice as well.

We have a large historical archive of documents, books, and memorabilia which we are in the process of sorting and cataloging to make available for research. The Laguna Beach Library has most of the old Laguna newspapers on microfiche, and we are attempting to augment the history room at the Library located at the comer of Glenneyre St., Park Avenue and Laguna Avenue.

Limited information on individual properties in Laguna is available, by researching the papers in the individual property files located at City Hall. . Ask for them by street address at the front counter at Laguna Beach City Hall at 505 Forest Avenue.

The Historical Society is a NON.PROFIT, TAX EXEMPT California Corporation, founded in 1989. We accept donations of photographs, written documentation and other memorabilia having to do with Laguna Beach. As a Non Profit Tax Exempt organization, we give receipts.

We sponsor a number of programs each year, when we send out Newsletters to members. The maintenance of the bungalow, insurance, all printing and mailing costs are supported by dues paid by members. So JOIN US. Membership is $15.00 a year. Please mail a check to:

LAGUNA BEACH HISTORICAL SOCIETY 278 Ocean Avenue Laguna Beach, CA 92651