Casino Point, Santa Catalina Island

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Abalone Point, Santa Catalina Island

Casino Point, Santa Catalina Island is a 20th century name for the point at the north end of Avalon Bay. It's name was coined when William Wrigley, Jr. built the first casino, Sugarloaf Casino, at the location to serve as an entertainment and gathering place for the island’s visitors. He soon realized that the building was too small to accommodate the growing visitation to the island.

In early February of 1928 the Sugarloaf Casino was torn down and construction of the new Casino began. The replacement casino, built under the direction of William Wrigley, Jr. and David M. Renton, built, cost of $2,000,000 at the time.

Architects Sumner A. Spaulding and William Webber designed the building at Mr. Wrigley’s request, with a ballroom over a movie theatre in the Moorish Alhambra style with Art Deco fixtures, furnishings and artwork. The construction of the building lasted 14 months with crews working around the clock. Artist John Gabriel Beckman was commissioned to decorate the interior of the theatre and the main entrance foyer with extensive murals. The theatre was originally built to accommodate 1250 moviegoers and was one of the first theatres in America retrofitted for both silent and sound motion pictures.

The theatre’s organ was installed, along with 16 ranks of pipes (73-85 pipes per rank) in the ceiling lofts of the theatre. Today this organ is one of only four working pipe organs in the world. The ballroom was designed and built with a cantilever construction that made possible an expansive circular dance floor without supporting pillars. A soda fountain, known as the Marine Bar, was built and a beautiful circular terrace surrounding the ballroom added a finish touch. The end result was a landmark that remains an architectural wonder and continues to serve as a place of entertainment for residents and visitors.

In the News~

January 22, 1959 [LAT/SCat]: “Avalon. Funeral services will be conducted at 1 P.M. Friday in Hollywood Cemetery Chapel for Lucas (Tinch) Moricich, 68, hero of a dramatic sea rescue off Santa Catalina Island 23 years ago, who died in his home here. Mr. Moricih, constable of the island, was on patrol the night of November 8, 1936, when he heard cries from a 50-foot sloop that had was being driven inshore by a storm off Casino Point. Launching a dory in heavy seas, Mr. Moricich, single-handed, brought seven persons safely ashore. For his heroism, he later was decorated with the Old Glory Medal by the Syrian-American Council of the United States Flag Association. A native of San Pedro, Mr. Moricich leaves his widow Margaret.”