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SOUTH BEACH: LAGUNA BEACH

Old Gazebo Is Made New Again

July 10, 1998|STEVE CARNEY

"The most romantic spot in Laguna Beach" now looks just as it did 50 years ago, despite the ravages of a dastardly December storm.

The wooden cliff-top gazebo at Heisler Park--the scene of countless proposals and weddings through the years--was damaged and the foundation weakened by a severe El Nino storm that wrought havoc throughout Laguna Beach.

"It's a real landmark," City Manager Kenneth C. Frank said. "It's the most painted and photographed spot in the whole city."

The remains of the old gazebo had to be removed and a concrete pillar sunk into the cliff side for a more solid foundation. Then a new gazebo was built to look just like the original.

"We duplicated everything," Frank said at the dedication ceremony Thursday for the gazebo, which offers an impressive coastal vista. Someone has even offered to replace the weather vane taken down several years ago, he said.

General contractor Mike Hillstrom teamed with Gilbert Caron on the project--which cost the city nothing.

"We made a bid for zero dollars. We didn't know if the council would accept it," Hillstrom joked as he surveyed the completed project. "I bet it lasts 100 years or more."

During the 1 1/2-month project, Laguna Beach officials said, they tried to research the age of the gazebo but couldn't nail down an exact date. Best guesses are that it was built in the 1930s.

"None of us remember it not being here," Frank said. "It's reputed to be the most romantic spot in town."

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