Next time you find yourself with a lazy afternoon and nothing to do head on over to the history rich Balboa Island Museum for some free educational fun! The museum’s history dates back to the early 1900s when the Island and its encompassing communities were first started by developer W.S. Collins. The museum offers an interesting look at what life was like back then as an islander; which was much different from the luxurious lifestyle you probably enjoy there today.
To even start development on the Island’s as livable territory the developer had to use a steam dredge to build up sand to build what we all know and love today as Balboa Island. Before that project started it was ALL under water!
Back in 1907, lots of the lots on Balboa were sold for pennies in comparison to what you might pay today- an average lot was about $300 back then and waterfront lots went for just $600! Balboa has always been considered a dream haven for summer vacationers and seasonal renters but most homes originally had no heaters and were closed up in the winter. The main source of energy used in homes was coil oil lanterns and candles and the first sea wall barrier was a wooden bulkhead that protected only part of the Island’s real estate. By 1909 this was beginning to be replaced by cement barrier- a slightly more sturdy way to prevent flooding.
By 1916 Balboa Island was clearly becoming a wonderful place to live and vacation so it became part of the City of Newport Beach. And just a couple years later the Balboa Island Improvement Association was created which is the same group that’s still caring for and improving the Island today for current and future generations.
Visiting the museum is a great education for your children or grandchildren too. There’s lots of pictures and artwork that tell the stories of how Balboa Island has changed over the decades. The museum is located at 502 S. Bayfront, Unit A (on the 2nd floor), next to the Balboa Island Ferry. The hours of operation are Wed 10A-2P, Fri 10A-2P and Sat 10A-2P. Everyone is welcome free of charge so take advantage of this hometown treasure and stop by soon!