Important Information for Researchers
Collection Scope and Content Summary
Title: Christine F. Shirley files on Crystal Cove Historic District
Date (bulk): bulk 1977-2001
Collection Number: MS-R113
Shirley, Christine F.
7.3 linear feet
(8 boxes and 1 oversized folder)
Languages: The collection is in English.
University of California, Irvine. Library. Special Collections and Archives.
Irvine, California 92623-9557
Abstract: This collection comprises the personal papers of Christine Shirley, a former resident of Crystal Cove, California and member
of the Crystal Cove Residents' Association Executive Committee. The collection includes records from the Crystal Cove Residents'
Association. Materials reflect Shirley's involvement in the association's efforts to add Crystal Cove to the National Register
of Historic Places and its legal struggles with the State of California over tenancy of the Crystal Cove cottages.
Important Information for Researchers
The collection is open for research.
Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and
their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
Christine F. Shirley Files on Crystal Cove Historic District. MS-R113. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries,
Gift of Mahlon Vail, 2004.
Processed by Audrey Pearson, 2008.
Christine F. Shirley was a resident of Crystal Cove, California from 1967 until 2001 and a long-time activist for preserving
its 46 rustic cottages and the surrounding natural environment. Shirley first began to visit Crystal Cove in the 1930s with
her cousin and fellow Cove resident Ruthie Van Wyck. She purchased the lease to cottage 23 in 1967 and spent most weekends
thereafter at Crystal Cove with her children. At the time, she lived with her family in the Hollywood Hills and taught at
Los Angeles High School. She married Jack Shirley in 1970 after they met at Crystal Cove.
Shirley was a member of the Executive Council of the Crystal Cove Residents' Association. Worried that the Irvine Company
would sell Crystal Cove to a developer who would destroy the cottages and natural ecology of the surrounding area, Shirley
worked with fellow resident Martha Padve to add Crystal Cove to the National Register of Historic Places. Shirley was deeply
interested in Crystal Cove's history and gathered much information about it for an unrealized book.
Crystal Cove lies on the Pacific Coast between the Southern California cities of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. The area
was purchased by James Irvine in 1864 and retained by the Irvine Company until 1979. Early in the twentieth century, squatters
began to live in the area, first erecting tents, then one-room cottages. More rooms were added to these structures as needed
over time, often assembled from driftwood gathered along the beach. The cottages are one of the only remaining examples of
California vernacular beach architecture, otherwise known as architecture without architects.
Beginning in the 1920s, silent film productions used Crystal Cove as a set for movies set in the South Seas because all of
the cottages had palm-thatched roofs during this era. Such movies included
Treasure Island (1920),
Storm Tossed (1921),
Sadie Thompson (1928),
Half a Bride (1928),
White Shadows in the South Seas (1928), and, much later,
Beaches (1988). Road traffic increased with the construction of Pacific Coast Highway in 1926, and Crystal Cove became easily accessible
to the public. In the late 1930s the Irvine Company informed cottage owners that they must either move their cottages or agree
to lease the property from the company. Many owners chose to remain.
After the Irvine Company sold Crystal Cove to the State of California in 1979, Shirley remained involved in the Crystal Cove
Residents' Association as it filed lawsuits against the State to allow residents to remain in the cottages. The association
won several lease extensions for its residents until 2001, when all residents were evicted.
The last of the cottages was built in the late 1940s. The exteriors of the structures have remained nearly unchanged since
the 1950s, although many interiors have been remodeled. Between 2001 and 2006, the State of California restored 22 of the
46 cottages to their vintage 1935-1955 interior and exterior condition.
||Christine Vail purchases the lease to cottage 23.
||Christine Vail marries Jack Shirley.
|1979 June 16
||Crystal Cove Historic District placed on National Register of Historic Places.
||State of California purchases 1,898 acres of Crystal Cove State Park from the Irvine Company for $32,600,000.
Development and Public Use Plan was created. Crystal Cove Residents' Association took action against the State of California to win the right to remain in
|1982 April 14
||Crystal Cove residents given notice to vacate by 1982 July 31.
||Crystal Cove lease period extended by ten years.
Development and Public Use Plan created to establish some of the cottages as a hostel. The plan was blocked by legislation that required the California Department
of Parks and Recreation to prepare a legislative report on alternative uses for the Historic District.
||Tenant leases extended for two years.
Development and Public Use Plan was created which planned to build a seaside resort on the Historic District. Implementation of the plan cancelled by the
California Department of Parks and Recreation following public concern about the project.
|1995 December 29
||Crystal Cove Residents' Association file lawsuit against the State of California, Parks and Recreation to prevent eviction.
||Crystal Cove Preservation Partners selected as concessionaire of the Historic District.
||Tenant leases extended month-to-month.
||Crystal Cove Alliance formed to resist the State of California's plans to build a luxury hotel and modify the Crystal Cove
||Crystal Cove Preservation Partners' contract cancelled.
|2001 February 9
||The California Department of Parks and Recreation issues 30-day eviction notice to residents. Residents file lawsuit claiming
non-compliance of agreement.
|2001 July 8
||Crystal Cove residents vacate their properties.
||State of California Department of Parks and Recreation begins to renovate cottages and implement fourth
Plan for Public Use and Preservation.
||Crystal Cove cottages made available for public use.
Collection Scope and Content Summary
This collection comprises the personal papers of Christine Shirley, a former resident of Crystal Cove, California and member
of the Crystal Cove Residents' Association Executive Committee. The collection also includes records from the Crystal Cove
Residents' Association and reflects Shirley's involvement in the association's efforts to add Crystal Cove to the National
Register of Historic Places and its legal struggles with the State of California over tenancy of the Crystal Cove cottages.
This collection is arranged in three series.
- Series 1. Crystal Cove Residents' Association records, 1967-2001. 2.0 linear feet
- Series 2. Subject files, 1923-2002. 3.2 linear feet
- Series 3. Clippings, 1959-2002. 2.0 linear feet
Related Crystal Cove materials can be found in the following collection:
- Martha Padve papers on the Crystal Cove Historic District. MS-R091. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries,
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Shirley, Christine F. -- Archives.
Crystal Cove Residents' Association -- Archives.
Historic buildings -- California -- Crystal Cove State Park.
Cottages -- California -- Crystal Cove State Park.
Crystal Cove Historic District (Calif.).
Genres and Formats of Materials
Photographic prints -- California -- Orange County -- 20th century.
Crystal Cove Residents' Association.
California. Dept. of Parks and Recreation.