I asked Elaine Martini Teixeira (whose family lived in Moss Beach as early as the mid-1920s) to tell me what she could recall about the photo below, the building once called the Moss Beach Social Club. To acclimate you, today the building is home to St. Seraphims Hermitage.
Half Moon Bay Memories (HMBM): Hi Elaine. I have a photo of the Moss Beach Hall–is this the same place as the Moss Beach Social Club?
Elaine Martini Teixeira (EMT) : Yes, I believe it is, surely looks like it. There was a storeroom on either side of the front entrance doors and that door on the side probably led out from the store room on that side. I sent it on to my Aunt to see if she recognizes anyone. I also spoke to my brother; Raymond Martini, he is going to try and think back, as to who owned it before my Dad bought it. Just called my older sister, Gloria Bernardo, and she told me that Pete and Lillian Francesconi lived there before and may have sold it to my Dad. Lillian was a Bracciotti, family lived on property which is now the HMB airport, she was sister to Lena Matteucci (Dina Meyer’s Mom) in Half Moon Bay and Gino Bracciotti, of El Granada. In the back area, was a bar room and a separate room for cooking area, with a counter. There was a small hallway, which lead into the dance hall area, which had a stage and restrooms on each side of the building. Along each side of the dance hall, a bench lined the walls. I believe I recognaize two of my Mom’s sisters, sitting on a bench, and possibly some of the younger fellows, appear to resemble her cousins, from the Torre family who lived on Sunshine Valley Road, above my Mother’s family home. The gentleman in overalls, back to camera, may be my grandfather, Ottavio Torre.
HMBM: Do the Russian Nuns live there today?
(EMT): I do not know if they live there, today, but the building that was the Moss Beach Club, owned by my Dad, Angelo, is the place the Russian Nuns purchased. I believe they made some changes to it, and of course, it’s a bit hidden from view, now, because of trees, etc. growing on the property.
HMBM: What was it originally called?
EMT: I’m not sure, it might have had a different name, before my Dad had it. He called it the Moss Beach Club. I have forgotten names of some of the streets; the building my Dad had is alongside of the creek, where there are cypress trees, bordering the property and the building (since destroyed in a fire) that was the Moss Beach Grammar School.
We used to live in the grocery store, on Etheldore and Sunshine Valley Road.
Then, after WWII, my parents built a home on Etheldore and Vermont, on property across from the store, he also built two other homes to rent out, on the property. The side of the family home is across the street from the entrance to the Club property. The grocery store was sold to a family, Berg’s, who ran the grocery store for several years until they sold it to someone who lived in the building, but did not have the grocery store, anymore.
HMBM: When do you think your Dad sold the building to the Russian Nuns? What did folks do at the Social Club?
EMT: Sorry, just noticed you had more questions on a previous email. I missed them. I believe, and my younger sister, Loretta Santini confirmed it, was my Mom who sold it to the Russian Nun, after the death of my Dad.. Loretta said she recalls, in-between, my Mom rented it out to someone who lived in the building.
HMBM: When did Dad die?
My Dad died in a truck accident in 1949 and I was married that year, lived on the Coastside for several years, in to of the homes my dad had built for rental, before moving to Redwood City. So, not being at home, Loretta remembers some things I do not remember too well. Loretta believes the Russians either sold some of the property or had a house built and sold it; the house is across the street from the family home on Vermont, which was originally, the entrance to the Club property..
The original Club had lots of empty space around it and a shed or garage off to the side by the creek. When my Dad died, it was difficult for my Mom (had closed store) to keep up the taxes on all the lots, etc. that my Dad had bought over the years. So she sold off the lots very cheap (had to buy some down by the Lighthouse bldg., below hospital, so that she could sell the lots that my Dad bought). She bought the one’s in-between those he bought at tax auctions; the lots were small and could not be used to build homes.
My Dad had a bar in the Club and on a couple of occasions, his brother, Fiorino Martini and family, lived in the building. This brother tended bar for him, during the 1930s, as my Dad was farming, raising sprouts on rental property, in a canyon across from the present airport. My Dad also owned property across from the store, and raised string beans and potatoes there, I remember rather well, having to PICK the beans and dig potatoes! Later, think about when WWII started, he closed the Club and the bar was moved up into the grocery store my Mom was running, where the family lived.
The store was moved into an adjacent, vacant room. Recently, a woman ran an antique store in the building. My Dad, also, held dances, boxing & wrestling matches, and roller skating evenings in the dance hall area.
I have seen photos of wedding parties being held in the dance hall area, probably while owned by Pete Francesconi, he and his wife were known to be good cooks! My Mother’s youngest sister, Lillian Torre’s wedding reception was held at the club while owed by my Dad. My sister, Gloria’s was held at Nerli’s, in Princeton, in 1942, mine at Dan’s Place, Moss Beach, in 1949.
HMBM: Thank you.
(Note to readers: We will have more conversations with Elaine soon.)