The beach cottage or "Little Red House" serves as the Society's museum and a tribute to the community.
The 900-square-foot structure may not look like much, but that is exactly why it’s so important. It represents a simpler Manhattan Beach – before it was incorporated, when sand dunes outnumbered houses, and visitors came via Pacific Electric or Santa Fe train.
It was located at 205 15th Street, built for Amos and Sarah Raymer around 1905* at a cost of approximately $600. Like other beach cottages across Southern California, it has board-and-batten siding that was inexpensive and easy to build. Its extended roof slope on the west side was meant to prevent sand build-up during high winds. The beautiful pine floor still exists today.
Most of the early structures here were beach cottages. In the early 1900s, families would come from Los Angeles and Pasadena on the trolley that ran on a double track along the beach. By the time of the city’s incorporation in 1912, there were 500-600 full-time residents, mainly in the Sand Section.
*It’s possible the cottage was built as early as 1904 and as late as 1907, most records at the Historical Society indicate that it was built in 1905.
The Beach Cottage in its original location at 205 15th Street. Photo by Lew Jerrard.
205 15th Street after the cottage was moved. Photo by Lew Jerrard.
The Beach Cottage in its temporary location on the greenbelt at 15th and Valley/Ardmore. Photo by Lew Jerrard.
When the home’s 4th owner, James Rayor, announced plans to demolish the cottage in 1986, resident Chris Miller wrote a letter to the Beach Reporter asking the City to save it. Miller was joined by Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Michele Memmott and Historical Society President Julia Tedesco in preserving the cottage. They argued that Polliwog Park was a perfect location for it to serve the community as an historical museum filled with city artifacts. The Council, headed by historian Jan Dennis, agreed, and the cottage was relocated to Polliwog Park in July 1987. Volunteers donated resources and time to refurbishing the house inside and out.
The Beach Cottage in new home in Polliwog Park, July 1987. Photo by Lew Jerrard.
When the red house was placed on its new foundation in Polliwog in July 1987, a determined group of volunteers worked tirelessly to refurbish it to make it worthy of a museum. They did everything from paint the interior and exterior to laying the brick that would eventually welcome visitors. Local businesses donated materials and labor for major projects including a new roof, repairing the electrical, and installing heating and air conditioning.