A Catalina Landmark: The Holly Hill House

Holly Hill house

Chances are if you have visited Avalon, then you have stared in awe at the beautiful Island landmark, Holly Hill House, while arriving in Avalon Bay or when walking into town from the boat landing.  It is one of Avalon’s most historic, charming and beautiful homes, gracing Avalon’s landscape since the late 1800s.

There are numerous stories about the original owner and mastermind behind the home, Peter Gano, who originally called it “Look Out Cottage” (the owners in the mid-20th century renamed it the “Holly Hill House”).  To construct the house, Gano employed a former circus horse to power a pulley system that moved building materials up the hillside (he was a skilled civil engineer), allowing him to construct the original house in less than 18 months.  It is believed he built the house for his fiancé, and when she left him because she didn’t want to move to Catalina, it broke his heart, leading him to post “No Women Allowed” signs on the property.  Local residents say he lived in the house until the early 1920s.

While the property has been enlarged over the years, rooms converted, and its trademark cupola repainted, many original elements of the home remain. The property has had numerous owners since Gano, but through all the changes over the years, one thing has remained (and always will), the nearly 360 degree views of Avalon, Avalon Bay, and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

If you get a chance on your next trip to the Island, make sure to check out this historic landmark.  Has anyone been inside the Holly Hill House?  Let us know in the comments below.

1 reply
  1. Debbie Bieber
    Debbie Bieber says:

    Our church youth group stayed in Holly Hill House Easter Week 1965. Wonderful memories of Catalina Island. Think it was that next summer that there was a fire that damaged the cupula.

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