Pierpont Inn in Ventura

We discovered the century-old Pierpont Inn as we were looking around for where to stay. Originally a Craftsman-style hotel built in 1910, the Pierpont sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean . Yes, it’s sandwiched between the train track on its north and Highway 101 (constructed in the 1950’s) to its south of and below the bluff on which it sits,  but the views from the hotel grounds remain spectacular, and we found it a pleasant place to stay.

Sumner P. Hunt, a well-known Los Angeles architect who among other things, supervised the construction of the 1889 Richardson Romanesque City Hall, and designed the Doheny Mansion (now part of the Mt. St. Mary’s campus near U.S.C.):

He also designed  the Glen Tavern Inn in Santa Paula, where coincidentally we stayed on an early trip to Ventura County:

The Pierpont Inn looked like this shortly after construction:

 

The Pierpont  has been added onto over the years, and its two main wings are post-World War II additions that are comfortable but not out of the ordinary. However, there are enough quirky little buildings around to make the grounds very picturesque. The landscaping is dense and lush.

In there rose garden, there’s a grotto-like gazebo (sounds strange, but take a look at it), which seems to be popular for weddings:

Nearby are the Rose Cottages:

Not mud-and-wattle, but still romantic. The Wayside Room is a California ranch addition that faces directly onto the Pacific:

And a gazebo, also popular for weddings, is on the lawn outside the Wayside Room:

Here are some views from the gazebo after sunset. First, looking southeast (left), we see the three Anacapa Islands: east, middle, and west (the tallest). You can land only on East Anacapa.

Moving west, here’s West Anacapa and the easternmost point of Santa Cruz Island. Santa Cruz is some 20 miles long, whereas the Anacapas are narrow and less than a mile in length.

Finally, a look at the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island. BTW, all three of these photos show Highway 101, which is raised as at goes by the Pierpont.

The hotel was something of a Hollywood hideaway during the 1930’s, when Ventura apparently was a difficult place to get to from Los Angeles. In this photograph from 1941, you get a sense of how removed it was from the big city. This was also before Interstate 101 was built along the base of the bluffs, and the various post-war additions built.

Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the Perry Mason novellas, lived in Ventura for about 20 years between 1917 and 1937, where he practiced law. His his first Perry Mason novel, “The Case of the Velvet Claws,” was set at the Pierpont Inn. We may actually have to read it, although I recall that Gardner was a pretty atrocious stylist in his writing.

The Pierpont Inn was recently sold, and is being managed by Wyndam Gardens. There’s been some disagreement with the city of Ventura for the past couple of years, which red-tagged the original building after the owners started making restorations without getting any building permits. Oops! The first floor has been remodeled so many times that there’s not much original there, but the second floor, which housed Austen’s Restaurant, is apparently vintage. Since the building was red-tagged, we couldn’t explore it, but hope that the new owners can get busy on the restorations soon and reopen the original Craftsman building.

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