Dance Pavilion, Avalon, Santa Catalina Island

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Dance Pavilion, Avalon, Santa Catalina Island (1892-1929+). “The old dance pavilion was built in 1892 by William and Hancock Banning. Admission to the dance pavilion was part of the ‘commutation ticket’ fare for the cross-channel voyage to Avalon. On many of the trips to Avalon you could enjoy live musical entertainment. From 1904 to 1927 this musical experience was expanded at Porter’s Catalina Island Marine Band played from 7:00 to 9:00 in the evening at the Greek Amphitheatre (now known as the Avalon Bowl), and then from 9:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. at the dance pavilion.

In 1929 when the Casino Ballroom opened for the big band dancing and entertainment, the dance pavilion was converted to ‘Sportland,’ featuring archery, ping-pong, shuffleboard and five bowling alleys. Then in the 1950s, as the Island Villas became less practical for overnight visitors, this front street location was ideal for a new and badly needed hotel. In 1957 construction was started on the Pavilion Lodge, which was so named because the word ‘pavilion’ was deeply entrenched in Avalon vocabulary.

In the News~

July 7, 1890 [LAH]: “The Yachtsmen's Ball. The event of the season was the first annual ball of the Southern California yachtsmen at the Hotel Metropole. The large dining-hall was converted into a ballroom, and light feet and merry hearts beat time to the music until a late hour. The fair sex was represented in good numbers, from near and far, and together with the gallant yachtsmen and other gentlemen in attendance, made up a brilliant company. The floor management was under the direction of Mr. Hugh Vail, assisted by Messrs. Richard Lacy and A. T. Harvey.”

May 12, 1892 [LAH]: “Charming Catalina. Being put in trim for the summer. Streets and Boulevards made—a new Pavilion—additions to the hotel. Water being developed. From a gentleman who has just returned from a visit to Santa Catalina Island, a Herald reporter yesterday got some interesting points as to the many improvements being made over there by the Banning Brothers. A good compact macadamized street has been made of Crescent Avenue. The material for making the road was obtained from the west end of Avalon bay and a beautiful promenade is made in that side as well. The Pavilion is rapidly approaching completion. It is circular in form, with a dancing floor 75 feet in diameter. There is a stage at the land side 70 feet wide and 50 feet deep. The building is glass enclosed and on the outside is a verandah ten feet wide, which will be utilized as a cafe. A complete sewer system is being put in. The sewage is carried in pipes out beyond seal rock and emptied into the ocean. This is a system for the whole island. Much water has been developed, and a reservoir 35 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep is being built, and there is a new track house going up west of the wharf. The biggest improvement is being made at the Hotel Metropole. Forty rooms have been added, a new kitchen built and building erected for the bar and billiard room. The hotel is being repainted and repapered and will be newly furnished throughout. The Grand View is the name of a new thirty-room hotel erected by George E. Weaver. The Avalon Home, a new house erected by E. J. Whitney, and half a dozen large boarding houses will furnish accommodations for all. The season will open about June 15, and on July 1 a large steamer will be out on and daily trips made. This year there will be no charge to campers for ground or water. Everything points to the fact that there will be a great flow of visitors to Catalina this season.”