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14. A. McFadden residence, 1923 14. A. McFadden residence, 1923
317 Georgina Ave.
Architect: Webber, Staunton, and Spaulding

A. McFadden residence, 1923
317 Georgina Ave

Aerial view of the Pickering Lick Piers
at the height of the fire. - 1924.

Beach view of the Lick Pier. - 1922.

This Spanish Colonial revival typifies the early 20th Century architectural style of the North of Montana Avenue neighborhood. The property was owned by Austin McFadden, local entrepreneur, and operator of the BonTon Ball Room at Lick Pier.

First we’ll tell you about the property, then we’ll tell you about the man. The subject property is situated on the north side of Georgina Avenue. It has a lot size of approximately 101 feet by 212 feet. Spanish Colonial Revival in design, the A. McFadden residence embodies a number of character-defining features of the style including an asymmetrical facade, red clay tile roof, stuccoed walls, wood framed windows with prominent lintels and sills, arched doorways, a tall, leaded glass window accented by a small metal balcony and wrought iron window grilles.

This colonial revival showpiece is a work by the Los Angeles-based architectural firm of Webber, Staunton, and Spaulding. Apparently, this firm maintained one of the leading architectural practices in Southern California during the 1920s, specializing in Period Revival designed residences, commercial buildings and educational facilities. Webber, Staunton, and Spaulding’s most significant piece of work was the design of the Beverly Hills property known as “Greenacres,” designed for silent screen comedian Harold Lloyd in 1927.

Other noteworthy project by the firm include a 600-seat theatre (1924) and the Casino (1928), both located in Avalon, Santa Catalina Island. They also designed the pedestrian street “La Florevia” in Ventura (date unknown) and Malaga Cove Plaza (1922) in Palos Verdes.

Now about Austin McFadden, the man who requested 317 Georgina be built.
McFadden was one of Santa Monica’s early entrepreneurs – he was the founder and operator of the BonTon Ball Room at Lick Pier during the 1920s and 1930s.

Ocean Park got a big boost in September 1921 when Charles Lick, Austin McFadden and George Leihy invested $250,000 to construct a new pier - the Lick Pier at the foot of Navy Street adjoining the south side of the Pickering Pier. The pier would be 800 feet long and 225 feet wide. When it opened on Easter weekend 1922 it featured MacFadden’s 22,000 square foot BonTon Ballroom, a Zip roller coaster, a Dodge'em, Caterpillar and Captive Aeroplane rides. The BonTon Ballroom boasted entertainment by Caryle Stevenson and his orchestra nightly and all day on weekends.

Lick Pier adjoined the south side of the Pickering Pier, and there were new rides every season. The 1922 season saw a Witching Waves and Double Whirl rides. For the 1923 season, a Whip ride was added and a new "Bobs" style twister coaster. The new 85-foot-high Giant Dipper roller coaster featured a frighteningly steep 55 degree drop. Billed as one of the most spectacular roller coasters of its time, it opened in time for Memorial Day 1923. It was in existence about eight months. A fire on Sunday morning January 6th destroyed the pier.

The fire started at 9:30 A.M. in the Ritz Cafe kitchen, and spread very quickly. Folklore says that rubbish was set ablaze beneath the pier near the restaurant.
Flames beneath the pier surged and the water hoses burned. Another fire truck broke and the water stopped.

When the fire died out, all that remained was of the part of Giant Dipper roller coaster. The losses were enormous, $2,000,000 with only $100,000 insured.

While the BonTon Ballroom became history, MacFadden and his family stayed at their home at 317 Georgina. One of the McFadden daughters and her husband later lived in the house until 1959. In later years the property was occupied by actor Paul Michael Glaser of Starsky & Hutch fame and his wife Elizabeth. The Glasers occupied the house during the time that they founded the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatrics AIDS Foundation.