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lOOKing BaCK

The gill home


A GreAt PlAce to live
wRitten BY DeniSe KanO

in the 1940s, manhattan Beach was known as a friendly, small town without much congestion. the homes looked very similar, from east of Sepulveda to the waterline, offering plenty of acreage with your purchase. it was in December of 1941 that the gill family bought the property at Sixth Street and John: a 10,661 square-foot dirt lot, which would eventually become a 2300-square-foot home in 1943. (the address was originally 825 Sixth Street. However, after the home was sold in 1980 and subsequently torn down, the new home built at this location is known as 609 John Street.) Bob gill fondly remembers the home he grew up in as the focal point for the rest of the close-knit neighborhoods activities. it was here that his friends would meet up to hang out, and on a Friday night, head over to the lamar theater. it was a great place to live, said gill. the neighborhood was very close and the families had children near the same ages. we did lots things as a large group-visits to the beach being a key form of entertainment. most of the kids walked to and from school together and were in the same classes all the way through high school. From the 1950s through the late 1970s, most lots in manhattan Beach consisted of half house and half yard, and the home at Sixth and John was no exception. it had three distinct terraces in the backyard, with numerous play areas for kids to explore. the massive backyard featured myoporum flowers. it was like going off into the wilderness, said James gill, grandson of the original owners.

the homes interior featured cork flooring, with carpet in the living room and a large mural on the living room wall. the kitchen included a large, built-in breakfast nook. One of the homes most enjoyable features was a picture window to enjoy the ocean view; small compared to todays standards. there were a total of six rooms, and a roomy, two-car garage. Sometime in the 1950s, the garage was converted into a downstairs bedroom. the second story porch was enclosed and transformed into what was referred to as the davenport room, a special area that faced the ocean where one could retreat to read or watch television. Starting in the 1980s, new home construction began in the area which consisted of building homes that covered the entire lot. However, some original homes remain in this area. the home located at 823 6th street was the home located next door to the gill Home and was built in 1949; it still remains today. James gill recalled his grandmother being burglarized in the late 1970s and no longer feeling comfortable being alone. She sold the property to his father who rented it out for a few years. James has warm memories of visiting his grandparents home frequently and enjoying the unique features of the home. One of my favorite memories was when we would come over and grandma wasnt home and the door was locked, said gill. my dad would lift me up into a little door under the stairs. i would crawl through sand on my hands and knees under the house to open a little door on the inside and drop into the house. i would then go upstairs and open the front door for everyone.
PHOTOgRaPHS cOuRTESy Of THE gIll faMIly.

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Manhattan Beach 1940s facts:


IN 1940, THERE WERE aPPROxIMaTEly 3,200 HOMES; MOST lOcaTEd WEST Of SEPulvEda. THE cITy Had 6,398 RESIdENTS. IN 1941, MIlITaRy INSTallaTIONS WERE IN PaRTS Of THE cITy, INcludINg JOHN aNd 9TH STREET. IN 1946, METlOx POTTERIES WaS SOld TO EvaN K. SHaW, aNd THE cOMPaNy SOON bEcaME THE lEadER IN cERaMIc WaRE. IN 1949, cENTER INTERMEdIaTE ScHOOl WaS buIlT.

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