The original master plan for the Palos Verdes Project, which now includes the City of Palos Verdes Estates, envisioned three major business centers in Malaga Cove, Valmonte, and Lunada Bay, with minor business centers in Margate, Miraleste, and Montemalaga. Malaga Cove Plaza was the first of those constructed.
The Original Conceptual Design of Malaga Cove Plaza was done by Webber, Stanton and Spaulding, Architects, who designed the first two buildings constructed in the mid 1920’s.
Construction of the first commercial building in Malaga Cove began in 1924, and was completed in Sept. 1925. The building, commonly referred to as The Gardiner Building", named after its owner W.W. Gardiner, was also named "Casa Primera" by the Homes Association in keeping with the Spanish theme of naming of streets, plazas, etc. The Gardner building was the site of the first classrooms in the community on the upper floor and had a grocery market, post office, library, interior design shop and Bruce drug store on the first floor.
The second building constructed, completed in 1929, was built at the east end of the Plaza, and was known first as the Alpha Syndicate Building and later as Casa del Portal. This building included the archway constructed over Via Chico. The next building constructed on the Plaza was built next to the archway in 1950. The General Store was then built at the far corner of the Plaza in the early 1950’s by Walter Davis, and continues today as the Malaga Cove Market. The other 3 buildings between these two were constructed between 1957 and 1962, with the one built next to the market, known as the Barnett building, originally constructed as a medical office building by Dr. McFarlane. The building next to the Gardiner Building, currently the location of the Malaga Cove office of Remax, was not constructed until 1961 by Howard Towle.
One other significant landmark in Palos Verdes Estates is the Neptune fountain, located in the central plaza of Malaga Cove Plaza. This fountain, incorporating a statue of Neptune, the Roman god known as the King of the Sea, was installed in 1930. The fountain is a replica of the great bronze fountain of Neptune in Bologna,Italy, but it is only two-thirds the size of the original statue donated.
Neptune fountain dedication
This marble replica was brought to the United States by art collector Aldopho diSegni, and the replica was thought to be nearly one hundred years old and had been obtained from the courtyard of an old villa north of Venice. After almost 40 years, the original statue finally crumbled, and was replaced in 1969 by a slightly smaller replica. Supposedly, the original city planner Cheney, after the original statue was installed in 1930, replied to a group of ladies who hinted shyly that they didn't like the fountain, undoubtedly because the mermaids on the pedestal were emitting water from their breasts, said "But ladies, we couldn't afford milk!"
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