Cambria Pines Lodge/Harry Jones

Don Julian Estrada received the grant to the Rancho Santa Rosa on January 18, 1841. In the 1850s he got into financial difficulty due to the declining prices for beef, hides and tallow, bad weather, surveying costs, and increasing property taxes. Using the rancho as security, he borrowed $7,900 from Domingo Pujol, a merchant from San Francisco, but he was unable to repay the debt. On May 17, 1862, Pujol and Estrada struck a deal in which Pujol gave Estrada an additional $12,000 and took possession of the rancho.

Pujol was no rancher so, in 1873, he hired H. C. Ward to survey the rancho and divide it into smaller parcels which he sold to local land speculators. In the late 1870s, that part of the rancho which would later become Lodge Hill, Park Hill and Happy Hill was sold to the Taylor brothers, James, John and Peter. They harvested the pine trees and sold them for building materials and for fuel for the retorts at the local quicksilver mines. Fortunately, they replanted the trees producing the pine forest we see today. In 1880, John and James Taylor moved into the house at 4101 Burton (then Lee Street) which later housed Heart’s Ease and is presently occupied by Spellbound Herbs Gift Shop & Garden.

In 1927, the Taylor brothers sold their property to Harry E. Jones who, with his brothers Robert and Clarence, founded the Cambria Development Company and built the Cambria Pines Lodge.

Cambria Pines Lodge early 1930s

Cambria Pines Lodge in the early 1930s

They also subdivided their property into 12000 lots which were 25 by 70 feet and marketed them all over California as sites for vacation homes. The company had more than 200 salesmen and their radio advertisements sang the praises of the area they called “Came-bria” Pines by the Sea, giving rise to the incorrect pronunciation of the name of the village that persists to this day.

Harry Jones was a prominent developer in Hollywood and built many houses and buildings there as well as in North Hollywood and Hollywoodvale, later called Studio City. He was a member of the Hollywood Shrine, a thirty-second degree mason and the first Commander of the Hollywood Commandery of the Knights Templar. He was also the founder and first president of the Hollywood Rotatry Club in 1923.

Harry Jones died in 1950 but he left his mark on Cambria. Besides subdividing it into small lots, the accompanying map

Lodge Hill Map

Lodge Hill Streets named by Harry Jones for members of his family

shows that he named six streets on Lodge Hill for members of his family including his wife, Leona. His five children were named Lucille, Marjorie, Ardath, Richard and Harry, Jr., whose middle name was Ernest, the same as his father’s. Wilcombe was the middle name of two of Harry’s brothers.

Harry’s brother-in-law (Leona’s brother), Roland Houtz, came to Cambria in 1926 and became a prominent builder who built many local landmarks including the Hillcrest Motel, Soto’s Market and, of course, the Cambria Pines Lodge to which he added the two-story addition in 1938.

Lodge in 1949

Cambria Pines Lodge in 1949 showing two-story addition

Houtz was one of five Lions who rescued the Fresnel lens from Piedras Blancas Light Station in 1949. Roland Houtz died in 1961. Harry’s brother, Robert Jones, built and lived in Greystone Manor, a 9600 square foot, eight-bedroom mansion at the top of Happy Hill.

At first the “lodge” was no more than a group of tents but soon the first building was constructed and, by 1932, there were 31 log cabins. The lodge was built as a place to stay for prospective buyers of Cambria lots. To this end, an airfield was built across Burton* from the lodge property, a site which is presently covered by Highway One, in order to fly clients to Cambria from all over the state. The company even hired the Goodyear blimp to fly up from the Los Angeles area, drop leaflets as it went, and film the lodge and its property from the air. It landed on the airfield.

Unfortunately for the Jones brothers, their timing was not the best. Just after the lodge was completed and the advertising program was beginning to yield results the stock market crash of 1929 occurred followed by more than a decade of the great depression. Sales slowed to a trickle and many who had bought lots reneged on their contracts. Prices plummeted and lots sold for $100 and less.

The lodge became a center for social life in Cambria. On most weekends bonfires were lit together with community singing and other forms of entertainment. It was also used as a meeting place and party venue. In 1937 it was used for the beginning ceremony for the opening of Highway One and, on that night, Governor Frank Merriam stayed there with his wife.

During World War II the lodge was occupied by the U. S. Army Signal Corps. When the Army departed in 1944, the lodge was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Eli Waller of Bakersfield who re-opened it in 1945.

Ultimately, the lodge was sold to its present owners, Moonstone Properties, who enlarged it considerably and turned it into a major attraction for lodging and dining. It is still used as a meeting place and a venue for weddings and entertainment. In a twist of irony, the Cambria Rotary Club meets there every Friday.

* This part of Burton Drive was known as El Portal at that time.

9 Responses to “Cambria Pines Lodge/Harry Jones”

  1. B&J says:

    Richard:

    Sorry, we can’t help you there. In fact, we never even heard of Walter Crick. But, we’d like to know what you find out about him and we would welcome your memoirs here on The Cambria History Exchange.

    B&J

  2. I was born (1941) and raised in Cambria and used to walk by the old mansion (now called GREYSTONE”) I seem to recall an African relic collector who sold theatre seats around the world who lived there. His name, I believe, was Walter Crick (sp.) and us kids were told to stay away from there as the clock in the bell tower stopped the night his wife died and she still haunted the grounds! I am writing a book of memoirs and knew Art Beale VERY well, but would like a lot more on Walter Crick and the mansion he lived in. If you can shed any light or steer me in the right direction, I should be grateful. I currently live in Orcutt, Ca. Thanks you for your consideration, Richard W. Weiss

  3. B&J says:

    Kaitlin:

    We have no property records. To find out what you want to know you need to trace the chain of deeds for the property. If you have the APN (Assessor’s Parcel Number) for the property, you can perform the search at the office of the San Luis Obispo County Clerk/Recorder (http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/clerk.htm). If not, you can get it from the County Assessor’s Office.

    We don’t think you can do this search without actually going there unless you contact a realtor who may be willing to do it. Even if you do trace the chain of deeds, this will tell you about the property but not about the improvements – the actual house – but you may be able to infer when the house was built by examining the prices at which the property changed hands.

    B&J

  4. Kaitlin says:

    Hello, I believe that my family may own one of the cabins built by the Taylor Brothers on Park Hill. Do you have any sort of record of these homes? I have noticed that our home is very similar to several other log cabins on the hill, and also very similar to the Cambria Pines Lodge. I would love to know the history of our old log cabin.
    Thanks, Kaitlin

  5. B&J says:

    Kelly:

    We moved your comments over to this article because this is where we mentioned Greystone Manor. We forwarded your inquiry to David Houtz and we’re sure you will hear from him soon.

    As for Greystone Way, we don’t know if it ever had any other name but we’re guessing that when Robert Jones built the mansion he probably put the street in as well and named it at the time.

    B&J

  6. Kelly Bennet says:

    B and J,
    also, was Greystone Way always called Greystone Way?

  7. Kelly Bennet says:

    David Houtz I would LOVE to visit with you and your family about Greystone Manor as it is my understanding it was Robert Jones who originally built it! I cannot recall if he is a brother to Harry or son? Is he your uncle? We own it now and would absolutely love the chance to learn more about it!! We have lovingly restored and redone this home to make it outstanding once again and use it for a vacation rental! Greystone is a HUge house, about 9000 sq ft up on Pine Knolls. I hope you remember it. There was also a big vault, and I wonder if it is to store the deeds to the plat maps and exchange for money as it is rumored this family divided and sold thousands of lots? Where could I get additional pics and info regarding Gresytone? if you live locally, we would love to give you a tour and show you it!
    Please respond and I will get you my email and phone etc!! I am so happy to find you on here!! Thanks for any help!

  8. B&J says:

    Thanks, Dave. We couldn’t have done it without your help.

    B&J

  9. David Houtz says:

    Bev and Jerry: This is an excellent article and true in every aspect as far as I know and remember. Thank you for getting Harry Jones, Sr. properly into the history of Cambria. I will forward it on to his living great grand children today. And, if they can come up with any additional info I will forward it to you.

    Dave Houtz

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