The Catalina Casino, located in Avalon Bay, on Catalina Island, opened on May 29, 1929. and ever since, it has been an iconic focal point of Catalina Island.
Designed to mirror the romance and style of Catalina Island, it sits regally on the bay as a symbol of everything the island holds dear. We had the opportunity to tour the casino and learn a lot about it’s history and the glitz and glamour of the island in the golden days where Hollywood royalty traveled to the island as an escape.
It was absolutely breathtaking seeing the Casino in the flesh and walking through its corridors. I’m such a history buff and love hearing stories about how things were in the past, so it was especially interesting to me to learn all about the history of the place. Read below for some interesting facts I learned while on our tour!
Fun Facts about the Catalina Casino
- The building was designed by Sumner A. Spaulding and Walter Webber as the first circular building of its time.
- The building was built and designed in the Art Deco and Mediterranean style, reflecting on Catalina’s historical past.
- The height of the building is equivalent to 11 stories, with Avalon Theatre on the main floor, and the ballroom and promenade on the upper floor.
- The 20,000 square foot ballroom can accommodate up to 1,500 dancers and is the world’s largest circular ballroom without supporting pillars.
- The Casino still hosts Catalina’s major indoor events such as the New Year’s Eve Celebration, Catalina Film Festival, and still shows movies in the Avalon Theatre a few days a week.
- The Avalon Theatre, located in the Casino was among the first in the world to be designed for “Talkies,” or films that were no longer silent.
Fun Facts about Catalina Island (in general)
- The Chicago Cubs baseball team trained on Catalina Island from 1921 to 1951.
- Avalon’s golf course was first built in 1892, making it the oldest course in southern California.
- William Wrigley, Jr., of chewing gum fame, purchased controlling interest in Catalina Island in 1919. The Catalina Island Company is still owned by members of his family.
- From 1942-1945, Catalina Island was closed to visitors and used solely as a military training base. Avalon was a base for the U.S. Maritime Service, training the men who would operate the ships carrying war supplies.
- In 1924 a film company brought 14 bison to the Island to make a movie and left them behind. Today the Catalina Island Conservancy manages the herd and keeps their numbers at about 200.
- Actress Marilyn Monroe lived on the Island for a year and a half during WWII when her husband James Dougherty, a lieutenant in the Merchant Marine, was stationed in Avalon.
The Casino is an absolute must see for anyone visiting the island! I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about the island and it’s history!