August 20, 2014

Topanga Historical Society Presents “Mermaid Memories,” July 16

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TOPANGA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Topanga Historical Society Presents “Mermaid Memories,” July 16

The Mountain Mermaid, then known as the Sylvia Park Clubhouse, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Lucy and Columbus Cheney (center, front) in 1934. Come and find out more about the fascinating history of this unique building presented by the Topanga Historical Society at the Mermaid pool party and potluck on July 16.

The Mountain Mermaid, Topanga’s historic showplace, is the site of the Topanga Historical Society’s summer program to be held on Wednesday, July 16.

The Mermaid’s genial owner, Bill Buerge, and its charming hostess, Gail McTune, invite those who enjoy swimming, nibbling, hanging out and shmoozing to come at 5 p.m. to enjoy Mermaid’s beautiful pool and extensive gardens. A potluck dinner (bring your favorite dish to share) starts at 7 p.m. and the program begins at 8 p.m.

The program will feature a panel of speakers who will share their memories of the Mermaid’s checkered past, whose history began in the late 1920s when the building, designed in the Spanish-inspired architectural style of the time, began as the Sylvia Park Country Club.

The building was intended to be the centerpiece of the Sylvia Park subdivision with membership to the clubhouse included in the price of the lot.

The depression brought an end to these plans and over the following four decades the property took on a wide variety of venues.

In the 1940s, it was a gambling house run by Mickey Cohen. In the 1950s, it was a gay night club and then a Jewish boys’ school. In 1970, it became a celebrated concert hall run by Ann and Mickey Nadel who named it The Mermaid Tavern.

Buerge bought the property in 1989 and devoted his life to a 10-year restoration process. It is now a popular venue for weddings, photo shoots and film companies, as well as the site of innumerable community events, meetings, parties and memorials that Buerge has hosted over the years.

After the speakers tell their stories, audience members will be invited to share memories of times spent at this venerable spot.

People who come at 5 p.m. to enjoy the pool should bring their own towels, wear their swim suits and be ready to change behind a makeshift screen at the pool as there are no changing facilities in the building.

Those attending the potluck dinner should bring a main dish, side dish, salad or dessert and beverage of choice including your favorite libation.

Coffee and tea, as well as plates, cups and cutlery will be provided. Please do not bring your eating setups for this program. Guests must not park on the street. Please pull into the Mermaid’s driveway where valet parking will be provided. Guests should be prepared to contribute for parking.

Everyone is invited. There will be a membership table for those who wish to join and the Society’s book, “The Topanga Story: Expanded Edition,” will be on sale. Membership is $20 for individuals and $25 for families.

The Mountain Mermaid is located at 20421 Callon Drive, Topanga, CA 90290.