Portuguese Bend Landmarks

Portuguese Bend Gatehouse
Portuguese Bend Gatehouse

Maureen Megowan, a Realtor with Remax Estate Properties, provides an article in her series "South Bay History Tid-Bits"

                      Portuguese Bend Landmarks

Portuguese Bend Gatehouse:  The Gatehouse at the entrance gate to the Portuguese Bend community was built by Mr. Vanderlip and was modeled after an Italian roadside chapel used by Michelangelo when he painted the Sistine Chapel.  It has one bedroom, two courtyards, one with a rose garden with a fountain and a high ceilinged living room. It is currently occupied and is being beautifully restored by the current owners.

“Villa Francesca” Gatehouse:  Harry Benedict, the personal secretary for Frank Vanderlip, built the "Villa Francesca" as a gatehouse to the other entrance to the Portuguese Bend gated community on Peppertree Drive. He had planned to build a more palatial estate further up the hill, but as the Depression hit, he abandoned his plans. Elin Vanderlip, in her memoirs tells the story that Frank Vanderlip Sr. , while vacationing in Paris, had cabled Mr. Benedict just prior to the 1929 stock market crash to sell his stocks, but Mr. Benedict thought better of it and did not,  thus costing Mr. Vanderlip millions of dollars.  Mr. Benedict also had control of the Palos Verdes Corporation from 1943 to 1945, which owned the Vanderlip family's remaining ownership of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The Harden House: Across the street from the Portuguese Bend Gatehouse and the entrance to the Portuguese Bend community is a house behind a beautiful Gatehouse.  This gatehouse was also modeled after one in Italy. The house, known as "The Harden House", was built by Frank Vanderlip's beloved sister Ruth and her husband Eddie Harden, a business partner of Vanderlip  Vanderlip had given Ruth the 48 acres of coastal land on the ocean side of Palos Verdes Drive South. They constructed a four bedroom home with a 6 car garage. They had planned to build a grand villa out on Portuguese Point, but again the Great Depression foiled those plans. Interestingly, the gate entrance to the estate was used in the movie "It's a mad, mad, mad world" as the entrance to the fictitious "Santa Rosita State Park" and the scene with the crossed palm trees was also filmed on the Harden House grounds. After Ruth died, the Harden House estate was reduced from 48 acres to approx. 2 acres, with the balance of the property acquired by the City of Rancho Palos Verdes as The Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. The Harden House is currently being marketed for sale.

For additional info on South Bay and Palos Verdes History, see


 on my website http://www.maureenmegowan.com  .

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