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Shelter Isle Apartments Info Needed

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We recently came across some Tikis and a sign from the Shelter Isle Apartments that was in Arcadia, California (BOT pg. 214).

One is 12'8" tall. We saw this one in a vintage-modern store, but it had a "hold" sign on it. The owner told us that the buyer had left a deposit but needed to get approval from his wife before taking it. I left my phone # in case it became available. I called back the following week but the owner had not heard from the buyer. Then he asked if we would be interested in the "smaller tiki" that was behind the building. He forgot to tell us about that one.

We returned the next day and showed us the smaller (7"6") tiki out back. It was in bad shape but interesting anyway. He also told us that the buyer had called back and was not taking the tall one. We worked out a deal for both and he threw in a sign he had also forgot about. According to the seller the large tiki was by the pool area, the smaller tiki was by the mailboxes, and the sign was off one of the buildings.

This is from Bob at Oceanic Arts:

Aloha Ron,

We supplied the entire original job, including the Shelter Isle signs, bridges with alligators, the recreation room and many tikis. The tikis you bought were carved by Bruce Sawli who worked for us for many years when he was off duty as a fireman of the 40's in L.A. The 40's being the station he worked at. he later became a Captain.

The apartments were owned by Marge & Gower Champion who were Hollywood dance and entertainment people. At the grand opening Hilo Hattie did the dance at the recreation room which was decorated Polynesian.

I would imagine most of our decor has since gone as we supplied the job in the 1960's.

Good luck in restoring the tikis and ask to see photos of the Shelter Isle when you visit Oceanic Arts. Bob

We went to OA Saturday and talked to both Bob and Leroy. They could not find all their pictures and the 4 they had did not show too much.

Does anyone have any pictures of this apartment building? There are a couple of McMansions being built on the site. I will post pics of the tikis soon.

Ron, mea culpa, I meant to get back to you for some time, but I have not found the time to dig thru my slides which are all over the place.
But all in all I must have 10 to 20 slides of the compound. The tall crouching Tiki you have is from the pool hut, and the other one from the mailbox hut. As I said in the book, the "Abandoned Village" installation was not recognizable anymore, and there were very few Tikis left standing. The entrance bridge was nice, and all the buildings had names like "Ala Moana" and "Sacred Falls".
Once I collect all my slides in one spot I will get prints to you.

Chris Nichols said that the kitchens had Moais on some of the tiles, I never was allowed inside, too shy in those early days of exploration...
E-mail me again, I keep on saving your address into my AOL Address book, and then it dissappears!

Is there another tiki apartment building in that area? I remember seeing one in that area about a year ago on one of my pointless aimless driving expiditions...


Pics, pics!!!


My parents live in Arcadia, give me an address, or an area to look in, & I'll check on'em for you next time I'm up there.

The 7'6" tiki needs some work. Some of the bark was missing. I have a couple pieces that need re-attached. Inside is hollow but full of debris. There have been some repairs where rotted (the blue painted concrete fill).

The 12' 8" tiki had a lot of nails and staples that were in an area where it appeared people would attach a flyer. In the first picture what appears to be a board next to the tiki is actually the back of the large one. it was wrapped around a large pole in the ground by the pool area. Right now it is outside our kitchen window. The fence is about 7' tall.

Here is signs off one building. The seller was keeping another sign that said "Kona Kai". Not a good picture as you can't see the painted detail of the bamboo letters.

I will try to post more pics this weekend.


Whoa Ron,
Nice ones! I totally am out of it, I've been meaning to get to your place to see these new ones, but I'm on my second bout with poison oak in less than a month. I went back to get 30' + palms and was poisioned again. Some day I'll learn. You'll be hearing my ring very soon. Very awesome tikis, can't wait to see them in person. Hopefully I can help you out with restoration or at least preservation!.....


What was the exact location of this place? I remember finding a place in that general area, but I thought it was beyond Arcadia.

I went hunting for it today, but couldn't find it. My memory isn't waht it used to be.


Scott, it's gone. Razed. Kaputt. That's why the guy sold that stuff.

It was on 444 W. Duarte Road in Arcadia. There is an unspectacular Bali Hai apts nearby. And the Pele in El Monte 0n 10024 W. Valley Blvd, altered beyond recognititon.

Thanks Sven!

Was this complex a dark wood tone, with multiple a frame entrances?

Thanks again, I want to go and at least see if the location is where I saw the complex I'm thinking of.


[ Edited by: TikiGardener on 2004-01-18 21:20 ]

No A-frames other than the pool hut, it was a "village" of individual two apartment bungalows, with a two story apartment unit in the back, so from the street it looked not Polynesian at all, mostly hidden by greenery.

Don't know the Bali Hai, 's just a stucco box, and the Pele's address is right above.

I'm not sure, but I think there is another one lurking out there...

It was painted brown, had several entrances one them right on the corner angling into a courtyard.

I seem to remember it being below Colorado, but it was at a point where Colorado stops being a major road.


I guess I'm just going to have to go on recon again...


Some bark missing - damage to the bottom where the concrete has stressed the carving.

I have removed this concrete to facilitate re-attachment of the carving.

Center is hollow, was full of decay and debris/leaves. By the nose there is wire mesh to hold the concrete/plaster repair. Leroy at OA said Shelter Isle would call them occasionally to request repairs at the site but did not want to pay for them. Not sure who did the repairs or when.

Here is the strip for the back of the tall Tiki.

Danny, Tony, where are you? Thanks Sven, would love to get copies of your pics.

My mom lived in Arcadia for 25 years. The only time I saw this place was when my sister got married at the church next to the Apartments in the early 80s.

[ Edited by: bongofury on 2004-01-23 11:03 ]

Ha! I'm done with combing for my all-over-the-place slides. All in all I found 20, I don't think there are any more:

I photographed there in January of '92, and went back because I wanted to try again in Sept '93.
It was one of those places that looked like it had been chock full of Tikis once, but the few left were hard to shoot. They were in shady spots with bright sun as a background, which is death especially when the Tikis are black!
Your tall one was the only one left brown. I have some nice shots of him in situ, holding up the A-frame of the pool hut (actually the iron post inside him did). The rec room bar next to him had not been rethatched since the 60s, but that gave it that delapidated urban archological touch.
The pool was nice, one of the few places I have ever seen where the waterfall was still functional, the water fell from like 5 feet high into the pool, very cool.

The whole compound was lushly overgrown, but because of that the regular shingle roofed bungalows did not stand out architecurally, so I only took close ups of the signs, with little or no surrounding elements. I have:
YOURS, "Tradewinds","Snug Harbour", and "Sacred Falls" (which is on page 218 upper right corner of the BOT). Didn't shoot "Kona Kai" because there were tons of places with that name.

Your black Tiki stood up front on the lawn at the wall, the only one visible from the street. It already had rot in his cheek in '92! The fact that the seller mixed it up with the mailbox Tiki tells me that that one also has survived, wonder who has it now. My picture of it is unfortunately too dark, you have to hold the slide into the sun to see any detail.
I also found a mock up page with a couple of prints from those slide that I had used in my first book mock up, all cut and paste with handwritten captions! I will send you a color xerox of it, and since I don't know which slides you want to print besides that, I am willing to send you the originals (since I know you). Personal message me your address (and e-mail again...)


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