As one of Newport Beach’s historic landmarks, the Balboa Island Pavilion is one of few surviving examples of recreational waterfront buildings from the turn of the 19th century. Established over 100 years ago in 1905, the building served a number of purposes. Originally one of it’s first purpose was as a terminal for the Pacific Electric Railway connecting the beach to Los Angeles. Since then, it has housed roughly 28 different types of activities, from a post office to a gambling facility, and an art museum to speed boat rides.
In 1908, Venetian gondolier John Scarpa moved his gondolier business from Venice, California, to Newport Bay. For several years, he took visitors and dignitaries around the harbor, serenading them in true Venetian style.
In the spring of 1905, the Balboa Pavilion was built by Chris MacNeil for the Newport Bay Investment Company.
On July 4, 1906, the Pacific Electric ran their first train to Balboa. Nearly 1,000 beachgoers took the one-hour ride from Los Angeles that day, mostly from Pasadena.
The pavilion originally consisted of an 8,000 square foot meeting room on the second story and a simply bathhouse on the first floor, where people could change from street attire into bathing suits.
All information and photos were taken from Jeff Delaney’s book Newport Beach, as well as from www.Balboa Pavilion.com. Want to learn more history on the Balboa Island Pavilion? Go to www.BalboaPavilion.com to read more. If you’re interested in learning more of Newport Beach’s past, please browse my “Local History” section here.
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