Officially named a California Historic Landmark in May 1989, the 104-year-old Cocoanut Grove boasts a rich and colorful history. The majestic building was designed by local architect William H. Weeks, who, between 1892 and 1936, designed Santa Cruz High School and many other Mission-style public buildings throughout California. Weeks’ buildings are distinguished by their ability to withstand earthquakes and their classic good looks. It took five hundred local laborers just seven months to complete the impressive building, overcoming a shortage of construction materials due to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and rugged winter storms. For the grand opening of the Cocoanut Grove (then called the “Casino”) in June of 1907, more than 1,200 guests attended, and congratulatory messages were received from President Theodore Roosevelt and the governors of three western states.
Over the years, the Cocoanut Grove has been the setting for many West Coast events. After the Boardwalk hosted the first Miss California beauty pageant in 1924, the Miss California Ball was held at the Cocoanut Grove. California’s first beauty queen, Faye Lamphier was crowned Miss California on the Beach Bandstand in front of an enormous crowd of admirers; Faye went on to become Miss America in 1925.
During the Big Band Era of the ‘30s and ‘40s, the Cocoanut Grove ballroom reached new levels of popularity. All of the major big bands, including Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rogers, Xavier Cugat, Vincent Lopez, and Glen Gray adorned the marquee. In the 1940s Gene Krupa, Dick Jurgen, Tommy Dorsey, Freddy Martin, Russ Morgan, Merv Griffin, Lawrence Welk, and Harry Owens drew crowds from all over Northern California as well as servicemen from nearby military installations. By the 1960s the emphasis switched to a younger audience with contemporary artists such as Nat “King” Cole, Sonny and Cher, the New Christy Minstrels, and the Four Freshman.
The Cocoanut Grove facilities are constantly refreshed and improved in a way that preserves the building's historic roots. The 1981 addition of the Sun Room, with its retractable glass ceiling, captures sunshine and ocean breezes during the day, and glitters with starlight after dark. Today the Cocoanut Grove's 20,000 square feet of banquet and special event facilities are used for everything from weddings and parties to tradeshows and corporate meetings for 50 to 1,000 guests.
The picture-perfect location for any celebration.