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View Finder: A Tour of Historic Crystal Cove Cottages

Laura Davick and Mike Fenderson were lucky enough to spend time growing up at Crystal Cove. Now they are leading tours of the state park that they helped create.

Laura Davick and Mike Fenderson were living at Crystal Cove near each other as neighbors during the 1960s. On Saturday, 50 years later, they led a group tour of the historic Crystal Cove cottages.

Located between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, the seaside cottages started sprouting up in the 1920s. A group of Japanese farmers lived in the community and sold their produce there. Over the years, more and more cottages were built from a smorgasbord of building materials, including ship wreckage and driftwood. Some families spent summers at Crystal Cove, while others spent all their time there.

“It was a very close community of 46 families,” says Davick.

In 1979, the Crystal Cove district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the land was sold to the State of California to be used as a park. In 1995, the state of California entered into a contract with a private developer to create a luxury resort. The cottages were going to be remodeled and absorbed into the resort. Then they were going to be rented out at luxury prices.

Davick started the Alliance to Save Crystal Cove to keep this from happening, and to make sure the cottages retained their rustic character.

“Along with a whole bunch of other folks helping, we stopped the resort project,” said Davick.

Davick also founded the Crystal Cove Alliance, which is a nonprofit partner with . The CCA raised $12.5 million and took two and a half years to restore 22 historically accurate cottages. The state of California needed someone to manage the facility, so Davick stepped up to the plate and now manages overnight rentals of the cottages.

Right now, the second phase of the restoration project is taking place and should be completed in June. Another $20 million is needed to restore the third phase of the project.

There are 10 individual cottages and three dorms which have 10 units. The average rate per night is $185, but it varies. To make a reservation, go to reserveamerica.com or call 1-800-444-7275 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations are taken for six months in advance of the desired date to be booked. Crystal Cove State Park has a site for frequently asked questions.

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