The Manzanita Cottages and Gardens

For years, I have driven past this large, wooden gate on a street in town called Manzanita, which is near our public high school and a private elementary school called Annaleise.
 I always wondered what was behind it. 

Turns out, the owners–the Herzer family–were friends of my dad’s, and when he came down from Seattle last week to attend my son’s high school graduation, they invited him to stay here. What a treat! If you open that wooden gate, it leads down these stairs. These are called the Manzanita Cottages.
Below are four charming, 1930s cottages, which the Herzers meticulously renovated after they purchased the historic property in 1999. (The property came on the market for the first time since 1931.) They also completely restored the gardens.
Apparently, a Hollywood film producer named Harry Green originally commissioned the local architect, Thomas Harper, to design the cottages in 1927. The idea was to build them in a private, walled compound a few blocks from the village of Laguna Beach, and the actual beach, where Green could entertain his celebrity friends. The town was then a growing bohemian art colony.

Although little is known about the guest list from those gatherings, it was rumored that Joan Crawford and her husband, Franchot Tone, were partial to the Yellow Cottage. It’s also equally famous now because this is the same cottage that my dad stayed in! (I knew you would want to see inside!!)
The built-in details like this fireplace create the warmth and charm. (Maybe this is nothing special to you East Coasters, but this is cherished history for us Southern Californians!)
The furniture is eclectic and has a lively Old Mexico theme.

Hand-painted cabinet.

Retro tiles in the small, but workable kitchen. These one-bedroom rentals are mainly for vacationers.

My favorite was the large, wooden windows.
And the wonderful plantings right outside them!
This is out the back door, which opens onto the central courtyard.
There’s a wishing well in the center, and the place feels totally private. That’s the Green Cottage.

As fourth-generation Californians with an interest in local history and architecture, the Herzer’s goal was to share this private get-a-way with others. Their first guests arrived in 2000.  

That’s the Red Cottage.
This is the Blue Cottage

Those calla lilies were perfect next to the cobalt blue!


The gardens were lovingly maintained. Not sure by whom, but they do a great job!

I’ve been running upon this flower all over the place lately. What is it? (Thanks to helpful garden blogger comments, this is an Abutilon.)

This is another spacious courtyard and patio, shaded by a Jacaranda tree, which is available for family reunions, wedding and other special events.

They had morning glories, passion flower vines, climbing roses, draping rosemary, star jasmine, succulents and fruit trees around the courtyard.
The little nectarine tree was already loaded.

I know my dad was very grateful for his retreat there, and so was I. What a special place, and we are so fortunate that the Herzers have preserved it with such care and flair!
Click HERE for rental information.

Thank you Herzer family!

9 thoughts on “The Manzanita Cottages and Gardens

  1. what a neat place! I'll have to keep that in mind if we ever need a rental in that area, but maybe after the kids are a bit older and we can travel without them 🙂 It seems like Laguna Beach is full of all kinds of neat connections.

    the flower you were wondering about is Abutilon.

  2. What an amazing place! Your photos were so colorful and cheerful! I know where I'll stay if I ever come down to your area for a visit. What a treasure the Herzers have restored to glory.

  3. Thats a wonderful place! full of history, theres so much things that I like.
    The first plant that are outside the window are "leonitis leonorus" the common name is tarantula flower.
    The plant that you wanna know the name is a tipe of "Abutilon". I have the same one on my garden
    Tx u so much for the trip!



  4. oh my gosh, absolutely gorge, and i really love the history behind this place! thanks for sparing me the embarrassment of getting caught peeking over the wooden gate.

  5. Lots of Laguna charm. Nice to see an old place like that still there instead of bulldozed to make way for a mega-mansion.

    FYI, I think you mean Cannas for those orange flowers in front of the blue cottage door, not Calla lily.

  6. i want to live there right now. place is gorgeous. i saw it first on my iphone and wanted to wait to see it on the big screen of a laptop in order to salivate over each pic matti

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