In 1924, another Hill Top Baron, Frederick Forrest Peabody,
formed the East Boulevard Improvement Association, which purchased
ocean front land and held it until the city could purchase it for
parkland. Up to this point, East (Cabrillo) Boulevard was devoid of
the usual shops, rooming houses and amusement concessions that
lined other Southern California beaches, and they wanted to keep it
In 1925 David Gray announced that he would build a public
pavilion and bathhouse if the city would agree to furnish and staff it.
Roland Sauter designed the two-story pavilion in the Spanish Revival
style, but when it came time to furnish it, the city had no money.
Already in for $110,000, Gray opened his wallet again and supplied
$65,000 in furnishings.
Then, in January 1927, the city announced that it had no money for
operating costs. Gray offered to lease and operate the Pavilion for five years
without cost to the city or profit to himself. Finally, the new bathhouse
was ready and opened for business in May with Roland Sauter as its
manager for the first year (Sauter’s wife, Norma, carried on as manager for
a few years thereafter) and other Gray staffers to help out. Gray himself
frequently pitched in, and the children of the time recalled that he would
buy them ice cream.
The Cabrillo Pavilion was built of reinforced concrete and was
considered earthquake proof. The lower floor had 1,260 lockers in two
locker rooms, a laundry, soda fountain, lunch stand, and souvenir booth.
The upper floor contained a spacious promenade overlooking the Pacific
Ocean, a dance floor, soda fountain, self-serve tearoom counter, lounging
room and orchestra balcony. The Pavilion made its own ice cream and all
food and pastry items were prepared on the premises. The kitchens were
equipped with the latest bread cutting machines, meat slicers, toasters,
and every other convenience. A refrigeration plant on the lower floor
cooled both soda fountains.
Trimmed in California red gum, the woodwork blended beautifully
with the Spanish architecture. Downstairs, the floors were of tile, and
lamps and others fittings were of wrought iron. Hand-hewn beams in the
large upper room resembled those of Spanish castles. Paintings by local
artists adorned the walls, which were decorated with the colors of Spain
and of the United States.
Soon after its opening, thanks to Kathleen Burke Peabody, the Wolf
Cubs donated an arcade and wading pool just east of the Pavilion. David
Gray also donated several paintings by Colin Campbell Cooper to adorn
the Pavilion’s walls and placed several wooden model ships that he had
crafted at the front.
(top left) Sankaty Head Golf Course in Nantucket was a recipient of David Gray’s
beneficence. He donated the land and paid for the construction of the club house.
(Postcard courtesy of author). (top right) David and Paul Gray were members of the
Detroit Boat Club at Belle Isle seen here in 1908. (lower left) When the University Club
purchased the hideous Victorian known as the Calkins house in 1921, they quickly
remodeled it in the “modern” style. David Gray was a director of the Club. (Courtesy
Santa Barbara Historical Museum)