Brown’s Park in Laguna Beach

I’m sure not many people have ever heard of Joe Brown; I didn’t until I discovered Brown’s Park in Laguna Beach. At first blush it’s a simple park, with just one sidewalk, two chairs, a plaque, several trees, but with a location, vantage point, and ocean view that’s not only unique but rich with local history, lore, and family ties.

The scene when you first enter the park:

Brown's Park

As you see the grandeur and beauty of the ocean now so could Joe Brown, the park’s namesake, back in the day. Joe Brown was a third generation Laguna Beach resident. In his own words:

It all began when my grandfather, Charles Bergfeldt, a businessman from Kansas City, but an artist and painter at heart, discovered Laguna Beach in the 1930’s. After his wife died, he remarried a businesswoman who had a millinery shop in Anaheim, California, called The Mary Millerick Shop. During World War II, they would drive to Laguna Beach for weekends. Problems with gas and tire rationing, and a very narrow, winding canyon road prompted them to think about buying a place in Laguna. So it came to be that “551 South Coast Blvd.,” as it was called then, became a part of our family. My father would sit for hours watching the ocean view; it was a dream come true, and I believe that it added at least ten years to his life. My wife and I spent our honeymoon over 40 years ago at “551,” and the last trip we made, shortly before her death, was to see Laguna and “551” one more time and just look out over the ocean.  Source: My Hero

In 2002, an El Niño destroyed the beloved “551.” So what did Joe Brown do? He conceived and developed a park where the house had once stood. So, instead of selling the property, worth an estimated $2 million dollars, Mr. Brown donated the land to the City of Laguna Beach. Today, everyone can enjoy the view that the Brown family enjoyed for 50+ years.

When you first enter Brown’s Park, you’re immediately drawn toward the carved metal fence at the end of the walkway.

Read the Inscription

After reading the inscription, the ocean calls:

Main Beach

Upon heading back to the sidewalk, you notice the chairs and table you failed to notice when you first passed:

A Tranquil Moment

Just before you pick up the book to browse its contents, you quickly realize that these are bronze statues, entitled “A Tranquil Moment” by Jason Kopydlowsld. Many a weary and tired visitor surely has rest their tired bones on these two chairs.

Here’s a poem written by Joe Brown’s father wrote 40 years ago which is relevant, topical and true to the present day:

Browns’ Park - A Legacy

Let me live in a house

by the side of the sea,

Where men and women wander by

Where there’s beauty and grace and excitement that’s free.

On the beach, in the sun let me lie.

 

Let me listen to the ocean’s melodious roar,

and its rhythm, so soothing to hear,

As the foam-covered waves

seem to reach for the shore

Under skies that are sunny and clear.

 

To Joe Brown, his father’s words meant a lot more:

Probably these words, more than anything else, painted for me a legacy that this small strip of land on the oceanfront should be made available to everyone as a public park in perpetuity. This donation will mark the end of a long and wonderful stewardship that my family and I have experienced. It will mark a new beginning: one where everyone will be able to enjoy the wonders of nature in one of the most beautiful spots in the world.

So, if you’re ever on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, look for Brown’s Park just south of Ocean Avenue. While Travelin’ Local, there’s no place like home or a place that’s meant for you to be at home.

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2 comments so far

  1. carla
    #1

    Breathtaking! Who needs Hawaii when we have places/beaches like Laguna Beach, La Jolla, etc right around the corner?
    carla´s last blog ..Brave, Stupid or Both? My ComLuv Profile

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    @carla, truer words haven’t been spoken. I grew up in San Diego and La Jolla, and the entire coastline of California is a national treasure, especially places like La Jolla Cove, Shores, Wind’n'Sea and Orange county beaches like Laguna, Costa de Caza, etc.

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @carla, I haven’t been to Hawaii, so I don’t really know the beaches there. However, I know I love the beaches in Southern CA.

    [Reply]

  2. Lance
    #2

    Lisa,
    The brick wall and chairs…such a neat design. I’m really drawn to these and their design.
    Lance´s last blog ..Sunday Thought For The Day My ComLuv Profile

    [Reply]

    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Lance, What surprised me is that I didn’t even see them at first, but as soon as I did, I was enthralled.

    [Reply]

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