"Atalaya" in Huntington Beach State Park


Archer Huntington, a foremost scholar of all things Spanish, is said to have designed his winter home, Atalaya (Spanish for "watchtower"), without a written plan. Local contractor William Thomson constructed the mansion in 1931-33 by following Huntington's verbal instructions. Evidence of Thompson's engineering know-how can be seen in the mansion's water system. Artesian well water was pumped into a 10,000 gallon concrete cistern, where the sand settled out. From there it was pumped into a 3,000-gallon water tank housed in a 40-foot-high tower, the height of which created enough pressure to provide running water throughout the 55-room home.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Other
Topic(s):
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:In 710, the Arab governor of North Africa authorized a raid on Spain by his allies, the Islamic (Moorish) Berbers. Within a year, half of Spain was in Moorish hands, and by 718, nearly all of the country had become an Arab province. The last Muslim leader was ousted from Spain in 1492, but the Moorish influence on Spanish architecture remained.