Castle in the sand
Any stereotypes of Orange County as cookie cutter suburbia are quickly forgotten during any Laguna Beach coastal stroll when the “Pirate Tower” comes into view. Of course, there’s a reason how a 60-foot French Norman tower turned up on Orange County’s golden coast. Formally known as Victoria Beach Tower and called La Tour by locals, the evocative castle was built in 1926 around a staircase that allowed beach access for a home on the bluff above – a cottage famously owned at one point by Bette Midler around the time the she filmed 1988’s melodrama “Beaches.” The home and tower were built and conceived by State Sen. William E. Brown. But no one took better advantage of the Pirate Tower than another owner, a buccaneer-loving naval officer named Harold Kendrick. Legend has it Kendrick would dress up as a pirate and hide coins in and around La Tour, inviting neighborhood children to collect and keep the booty.