A spectacular oceanfront setting and plenty of historic charm make the Boardwalk’s Cocoanut Grove an unforgettable venue for special events. Named a California Historic Landmark in May 1989, the facility boasts a rich and colorful history.
The majestic Cocoanut Grove building was designed by local architect William H. Weeks, who also designed Santa Cruz High School and hundreds of Mission-style public buildings throughout California between 1892 and 1936. Weeks’ buildings are known for their ability to withstand earthquakes as well as their classic good looks.
Five hundred local laborers took just seven months to complete the impressive building, overcoming a shortage of construction materials due to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and rugged winter storms.
When the Cocoanut Grove (then called the Casino) opened in June of 1907, more than 1,200 guests attended the grand opening. Congratulatory messages were received from President Theodore Roosevelt and the governors of three western states.
Over the years, the Cocoanut Grove has been the setting for many important West Coast events. When the Boardwalk hosted the first Miss California beauty pageant in 1924, the Miss California Ball was held in the Cocoanut Grove. California’s first beauty queen, Faye Lanphier was crowned Miss California on the Beach Bandstand in front of a large crowd of admirers; Faye went on to become Miss America in 1925.
During the Big Band Era of the ‘30s and ‘40s, the Cocoanut Grove ballroom reached new levels of popularity. All of the major big bands including Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rogers, Xavier Cugat, Vincent Lopez, and Glen Gray adorned the marquee. In the 1940s Gene Krupa, Dick Jurgen, Tommy Dorsey, Freddy Martin, Russ Morgan, Merv Griffin, Lawrence Welk, and Harry Owens drew crowds from all over Northern California as well as servicemen from nearby military installations.
By the 1960s the emphasis switched to a younger audience with contemporary artists such as Nat “King” Cole, Sonny and Cher, the New Christy Minstrels, and the Four Freshman.
Since 1907 the local community and guests from all around the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Valley have enjoyed the Cocoanut Grove’s grandeur and prime beachfront location for dances, concerts, weddings, and celebrations of all sizes. The Cocoanut Grove facilities are decorated in a way that preserves the building’s historic roots. The 1981 addition of the Sun Room, with its retractable glass ceiling, captures sunshine and ocean breezes during the day and glitters with starlight after dark.
Today the Cocoanut Grove is used for corporate meetings and events, graduation nights, and other Boardwalk events.
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