It is rare to come across an item in Sherman Library’s collections that relates to current events as clearly as the letter I discovered yesterday. When Sherman Library temporarily closed, on March 17, one of the tasks I set for myself while working from home was to organize a collection of letters from Lucy Sherman, the sister of Moses H. Sherman, for whom Sherman Library & Gardens is named. These letters date from the 1870s and 1880s when Lucy lived in Prescott, Arizona and provide insights into life in that community.
Perhaps the most iconic building in the Newport Beach neighborhood of Corona del Mar is the tutor-style Five Crowns. Thanks to one woman’s remarkable foresight and intuition, Corona del Mar hosts a traditional English inn. Matilda MacCulloch was a woman with vision. After traveling throughout Europe, marrying a Scottish nobleman, and living for many years in England, she wanted to have a taste of England to Southern California. Through her determination and love of architecture, Corona del Mar has its very own English inn.
A century ago, America went to war. Men from Orange County and across the nation heeded the call to service during World War I. By the end of the war, 4 million men served, half of those going abroad to fight. More than 100,000 American “doughboys” lost their lives in World War I.
In 1917, Corona del Mar was a peaceful rural enclave, — as far from the battlefields in France as one could imagine. So, it might seem ironic that a decade after the end of the “War to End All Wars,” movie makers arrived in Corona del Mar to recreate World War I. In fact, the Academy Award winning All Quiet on the Western Front, included battle scenes filmed in Corona del Mar.
Sherman Library has an extensive collection of aerial photographs of Corona del Mar. This photograph from the collection shows just how quiet and undeveloped Corona del Mar was in 1929. Entire blocks were vacant, while others had only a single residence. Even though access to Corona del Mar improved with the completion of Coast Highway, which you can see running across the top of the photo, sales of lots in Corona del Mar were rare.