Catalina Island: Beautiful Tile Pottery

Orange Garibaldi Fish

Orange Garibaldi Fish Tile

Seal in Kelp Forest Tile

Seal in Kelp Forest Tile

Boat Spotting Flying Fish Tile

Boat Spotting Flying Fish Tile

Flying Fish Tile

Flying Fish Tile

Sea Lions Tile

Sea Lions Tile

Humpback Whales Tile

Humpback Whales Tile

Pelican at Sunset Tile

Pelican at Sunset Tile

Catalina Casino Tile

Catalina Casino Tile

Avalon, California, is famous for its historic Catalina tile. Pottery and tiles from 1927-1937 were made in Avalon from the island’s red clay and then glazed with local minerals. Vintage Catalina tiles are now a hot collector’s item. Tiles were decorated in four primary colors: Catalina blue, Descanso green, Toyon red, and Manchu yellow. Tiles often feature island scenes and animals, along with patterns and geometric shapes. Beautiful historic tiles and murals can be viewed throughout town, and reproductions are available in gift shops. In 2013 the City of Avalon celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Catalina Island’s Crown Jewel: 1929 Casino

Walkway to Casino

Walkway to Casino

Entrance to Casino

Entrance to Casino

Close-up of 18-foot-tall Catalina Tile Mermaid

Close-up of 18-foot-tall Catalina Tile Mermaid

Black Walnut Paneled Lobby with Seashell Theme Chairs

Black Walnut Paneled Lobby with Seashell Theme Chairs

22-Karat Gold Leaf Stars on Ceiling

22-Karat Gold Leaf Stars on Ceiling

Art Deco Avalon Theater (seats 1,154 people)

Art Deco Avalon Theater (seats 1,154 people)

Looking Toward Entrance Doors Inside Theater

Looking Toward Entrance Doors Inside Theater

1929 Exotic Peacock Mural in Theater

1929 Exotic Peacock Mural in Theater

California Desert Landscape Mural with Stylized Leaping Antelopes in Theater

California Desert Landscape Mural with Stylized Leaping Antelopes in Theater

Reproduction in 22-Karat Gold Leaf of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus Above Stage

Reproduction in 22-Karat Gold Leaf of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus Above Stage

Close-up of Intricate Design of Proscenium Arch Above Stage

Close-up of Intricate Design of Proscenium Arch Above Stage

1929 Page Pipe Organ in Theater (one of three in world and still in use today)

1929 Page Pipe Organ in Theater (one of three in world and still in use today)

Theater Projectors / Original Editing Room where Cecil B. DeMille Viewed Daily Island Movie Shoots

Theater Projectors / Original Editing Room where Cecil B. DeMille Viewed Daily Island Movie Shoots

Benny Goodman Poster

Benny Goodman Poster

World’s Largest Circular Ballroom (can hold over 6,000 people and has no support beams)

World’s Largest Circular Ballroom (can hold over 6,000 people and has no support beams)

Looking Straight Up at Tiffany Chandelier in Ballroom

Looking Straight Up at Tiffany Chandelier in Ballroom

Riding a Dolphin Design in Sterling Silver Leaf in Ballroom

Riding a Dolphin Design in Sterling Silver Leaf in Ballroom

Romance Promenade Overlooking Avalon Harbor

Romance Promenade Overlooking Avalon Harbor

Casino Fish Bar

Casino Fish Bar

Lyrics to Avalon, Sung by Al Jolson in 1920

Lyrics to Avalon, Sung by Al Jolson in 1920

Catalina’s historic Casino is the crown jewel of Avalon, California. Its name means “gathering place” or “entertainment” in Italian (it never hosted gambling). The Casino was built in 1929 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley and features the world’s largest circular ballroom. Benny Goodman’s Big Band music was broadcast live from there to a nationwide audience in the 1930s and 1940s. Movie stars including Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Cary Grant, and more visited the Casino during that era. The ballroom is still in use today.  

The Casino reflects its island location through designs and furnishings with sea themes. The murals were painted over 3 months’ time by John Gabriel Beckman in 1929 (he had previously worked on murals at Grauman’s Chinese Theater). Murals outside above the main entrance feature ocean life, kelp forests, and an 18-foot tall Catalina tile mermaid. Murals inside the art deco Avalon Theater reflect California’s early history and environment. The Avalon Theater was used as a model to design the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The architecture of the Casino is amazing, and the setting is stunning!    (Click on any image for enlargement and more detailed information.)

Catalina Island: Wrigley Botanic Garden – Amazing Cactus!

Photographing the Garden

Photographing the Garden

Photographing 80 year old Barrel Cactus

Photographing 80 year old Barrel Cactus

Trail Past Cacti and Succulents

Trail Past Cacti and Succulents

Cactus Garden

Cactus Garden

Tropical Aloe (Quiver Tree)

Tropical Aloe (Quiver Tree)

Stone Aloe

Stone Aloe

Blooming Pachypodium

Blooming Pachypodium

Barrel Cactus "Face"

Barrel Cactus “Face”

Heart Shaped Opuntia Cactus Pad

Heart Shaped Opuntia Cactus Pad

Wrigley Memorial

Wrigley Memorial

View Down Canyon to Pacific from Wrigley Memorial

View Down Canyon to Pacific from Wrigley Memorial

Tile Arch of Memorial

Tile Arch of Memorial

Close-up of Tile Arch

Close-up of Tile Arch

Beautiful Catalina Tile on Memorial Walls

Beautiful Catalina Tile on Memorial Walls

Catalina Mule Deer

Catalina Mule Deer

One of our favorite activities at Catalina Island was visiting the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. The idea for the 37-acre garden came from chewing gum magnate William Wrigley’s wife Ada in 1935. She wanted to showcase a Desert Plant Collection. Many of the original cacti and succulents still thrive in the garden today. New plantings are focused on those unique to the Channel Islands – many are extremely rare or endangered.

The Wrigley Memorial contains beautiful examples of locally made Catalina tile. The memorial sits on a hill overlooking the Pacific.   Wrigley’s greatest legacy was his vision to protect most of Catalina Island in its natural state for future generations to enjoy. Over 88% of the island remains undeveloped and is under management by the Catalina Island Conservancy. More info is at: www.catalinaconservancy.org/index.php?s=visit&p=Wrigley_memorial_and_botanic_garden

Catalina Island: Flying Fish!

Historic Catalina Flying Fish Tour Boat Blanche W

Historic Catalina Flying Fish Tour Boat Blanche W

Vintage Spotlights

Vintage Spotlights

Vintage Flying Fish Spotting Postcard

Vintage Flying Fish Spotting Postcard

Vintage Catalina Flying Fish Postcard

Vintage Catalina Flying Fish Postcard

Summer Flying Fish Festival Logo

Summer Flying Fish Festival Logo

1915 Postcard Featuring Child Feeding Old Ben the Sea Lion at Dock

1915 Postcard Featuring Child Feeding Old Ben the Sea Lion at Dock

The waters offshore Catalina Island deliver a special treat to visitors in summer – the chance to view flying fish at night. We went out on the historic wooden boat Blanche W. built in 1924. The boat was named after chewing gum magnate William Wrigley’s first granddaughter, and features open air mahogany benches in the back. Spotlights (vintage World War One, 40-million candle-power) mounted on the front of the boat were used to scan the water for fish. At one point we watched a pelican join in the fun by diving for fish when they jumped out of the water. What a memorable night! A wonderful TV show about Catalina’s flying fish by Huell Howser of “California’s Gold” is at: https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/2015/06/08/flying-fish-californias-gold-1009/

Catalina Island: Underwater Tour

Semi-Submersible Tour

Semi-Submersible Tour

Underwater Viewing

Underwater Viewing

Abundant Fish by Windows

Abundant Fish by Windows

Kelp Bass

Kelp Bass

Bright Orange Garibaldi

Bright Orange Garibaldi

Santa Catalina Island Kelp Forest Creatures Identification Guide

Santa Catalina Island Kelp Forest Creatures Identification Guide

When we visited Catalina Island, we went on an underwater semi-submersible tour (other ways to view sea life include snorkeling, diving, and glass bottom kayaking). Numerous marine preserves surround the island and protect vast numbers of fish. Our favorite fish was the orange garibaldi – they are very feisty and often approach divers (learn more at http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/fishes/garibaldi). The fun part of the tour was never knowing what we’d see next!

California: Beautiful Catalina Island

View of Avalon from Hilltop

View of Avalon from Hilltop

Avalon Harbor

Avalon Harbor

Eagle Statue at Catalina Ferry Terminal

Eagle Statue at Catalina Ferry Terminal

Catalina Sea Life Tile Mural

Catalina Sea Life Tile Mural

Historic Catalina Tile Fountain

Historic Catalina Tile Fountain

Allen's Hummingbird

Allen’s Hummingbird

Vintage 1930s Catalina Luggage Label

Vintage 1930s Catalina Luggage Label

Catalina Island has been famous as an island getaway for southern Californians for over 100 years.  Early advertising boasted “In all the world, no trip like this!”  In 1957 the Four Preps sang “Twenty-six miles across the sea, Santa Catalina is a-waitin’ for me”.  Dick Clark dubbed it the first surfer song, and Brian Wilson said it was a major influence on the Beach Boys.  A fun LA Times article about the song is at:  http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-ca-socal15jul15-story.html.

The maritime distance from the Los Angeles mainland to Catalina Island is actually 22.3 miles, which is easily traversed these days by high speed ferry.  In 1894 messages were sent there via Carrier Pigeon Service.  Notes were printed on tiny oilskin squares, rolled up, and placed into little canisters on pigeon legs.  Within an hour a pigeon could complete the ocean crossing and deliver the message – twice as fast as steamships at the time!  By 1902 the service ended when wireless messaging became available.  We were charmed by the island’s beauty and landscape.  Visitor information is at:  http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/.

California: Stunning Glass Church

Wayfarer's Chapel on Hill Overlooking Coast

Wayfarer’s Chapel on Hill Overlooking Coast

Garden at Front of Chapel

Garden at Front of Chapel

Round Window in Center of Chapel

Round Window in Center of Chapel

View Looking into Chapel

View Looking into Chapel

View Looking Up in Chapel

View Looking Up in Chapel

View Looking Out from Chapel

View Looking Out from Chapel

Chapel Wedding Picture in Visitor Center

Chapel Wedding Picture in Visitor Center

Chapel Bell Tower

Chapel Bell Tower

View Overlooking Foggy Pacific

View Overlooking Foggy Pacific

Black and White Image of Walkway Outside

Black and White Image of Walkway Outside

Beautiful Pink, White and Yellow Rose in Garden

Beautiful Pink, White and Yellow Rose in Garden

Colorful Bird-of-Paradise Flower in Garden

Colorful Bird-of-Paradise Flower in Garden

The Wayfarer’s Chapel is a beautiful church for people of all faiths in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.  A natural cathedral is formed by redwood trees arching over the chapel’s clear glass walls.  The chapel is a place of meditation with emphasis on the harmony of the natural world with the inner world of mind and spirit.  Only natural colors and materials were used in building the Chapel, such as sky blue on the bell tower, green on the floor, and local wood and stone.  The sanctuary and garden sit on a hill overlooking the foggy Pacific Ocean.  The overall effect is stunning!  This Swedenborgian church was designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright).  Wright believed in the principle of “organic architecture” – creating buildings in harmony with the environment, including repetition of patterns in nature such as those found seashells and trees.  The Chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a popular place for weddings.  One of the most famous Swedenborgians was Jonathan “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, who distributed church literature while planting trees across the American Midwest.  Info about visiting the Chapel is at: http://www.wayfarerschapel.org/

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