Historic home dedication also honors owner Majka

Homeowner Marsha Majka with Nikki and Michael Nance. The historic home was built by Nance’s great grandmother’s second husband, Frances Allen Kidder.

by Elka Worner

For more than four decades, Marsha Majka has lovingly maintained her 1913 Craftsman home on the corner of Monterey Boulevard and Park Avenue in north Hermosa Beach. On Sunday neighbors, friends and community leaders gathered to celebrate Majka’s home as the city’s first residential historic landmark.

“It’s such an honor,” she said. “I never dreamed there would be a plaque at my front door marking this as the city’s first historic home.”

The longtime Hermosa Beach resident said she wanted to preserve her home, built in 1913 for $1,000, so future generations could appreciate the “comfort, simplicity, and craftsmanship” of the shingle and clapboard cottage.

“It was a long and expensive journey to get to this place, but hopefully I have paved the way for others,” she said.

When Majka applied for a historic designation in April 2022, she had no idea how arduous and costly the process would be.

“I filled out the application form, did all the research and the city accepted it,” Majka said. Then,  a City Hall employee caught up with her in the parking lot and told her she neglected to pay a non-refundable fee. “There was nothing on the website about a $4,300 fee. I thought it was excessive.” 

Hermosa Beach Mayor Ray Jackson, Hermosa Historical Society President Greg McNally, homeowner Marsha Majka, and Councilmember Dean Francois unveil the historic designation plaque, donated by the Historical Society. Photos by Elka Worner

She withdrew her application until her neighbors took up her cause. They submitted a petition to City Hall requesting the city waive the application fee and “expeditiously approve” the historic status for her home. But Majka was told there would be even more fees, up to $10,000 for a historic preservation consultant to deem the home eligible for the city’s Historic Resources Preservation Program. That made the application prohibitive for Majka, who is retired and lives on a fixed income.

Homeowner Marsha Majka with Manhattan Beach Historical Society President Gary McAuley.

“It was very expensive, far too expensive for Marsha to do it, so the city council came up with a process to make it more affordable,” neighbor Dency Nelson said.

In August 2022, the City Council approved a fee waiver – 90 percent of the Historic Resources Nomination cost – for her application. Majka ended up paying $3,500 out of pocket.

Mayor Ray Jackson, who was on hand to unveil the plaque, praised Majka’s dedication and effort to retain Hermosa’s past for future generations.

“It takes a lot to say, ‘I’m willing to forgo the potential millions that I can get tomorrow,’ and preserve this home for posterity, and for people to come and appreciate the way things were,” Jackson said. “People will walk by here and smile to see a beautiful Craftsman among the multi-million-dollar, multilevel mansions.”

The three-bedroom home was featured in “Castles on the Sand,” a seminal 1977 book by unofficial city historian Pat Gazin.

“This shingled beach bungalow retains youthful charm and color. It was built in 1913 by owner builder S. S. Kidder at a cost of $1,000,” Gazin wrote.

Neighbor Nikki Nance who attended the dedication, said she made a discovery of her own about the historic home.

Rick Koenig and Hermosa Historical Society Vice President Jake Courtney, and Victor George.

“I live right around the corner, and I’ve walked by this house for years and I’ve always felt a kinship with it,” Nance said.

On Sunday, she brought a black and white photo she found of the original home, which included several stone pillars in front of the house. They were eventually removed.

The 1917 photo was taken by her great grandmother, Sarah Kidder, whose second husband, Frances Allen Kidder, she learned, built the house.

“My great grandmother was very active in Hermosa Beach, organizing women to make bandages for World War I,” Nance said. “I’m happy that my children and grandchildren will be able to see this piece of family history.”

Dozens of neighbors toured the historic home, admiring the antique windows that face the ocean and bungalow’s original hardwood floors.

During the Sunday’s dedication, longtime neighbor Geoffrey Yarema said historical landmarks “represent anchoring institutions in our neighborhood, which are irreplaceable.”

“In this particular case, the anchoring institution has been much more than this remarkable cottage,” Yarema said. “It has been the amazing person who has resided here for years. I think I speak for almost everyone in saying the real reason we are here today is to honor Marsha Majka.”

“All of Hermosa walks by her house and they know her, her garden, her dogs,” Nelson said. “She’s part of the community. She’s one of those things that makes Hermosa Beach as wonderful as it is.” ER




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