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The Rebirth of the Tudor House

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Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:00 am

What is today known as the Tudor House was built in 1928 as the Arrowhead Villas Club. According to historian Russ Keller, the club was developed and owned by the Adkins Realty Company of Los Angeles "who saw the idea for a recreational center in Southern California. After purchasing the property from the Fleming family, development began."

But no sooner was the club built, notes current owner John Connor, than the Great Depression hit. The building stood empty for a while. Legend has it that Bugsy Siegel used the building as a speakeasy, although some people say he was never there.

The building has served a variety of purposes, Connor added. It has been a restaurant, a community church, a storage building, an antique furniture store and rental apartments.

"It sat empty for some time," Connor said, "and was not well winterized." When he turned on the water, a number of leaks made themselves known.

"This building has been a vagabond," Connor said, "but I plan to end that. It is now a permanent home for a lot of people."

When the Royal Oak closed, Connor became aware that pianist Steve Lawless was left without a venue where he could play. He also became aware that the Lake Arrowhead Repertory Theatre Company was going to lose its home and would have to move for the fourth time.

"I had looked at this property over a year ago," Connor said, "but I had no great use for it then. Then I realized the theater needed a much bigger venue to be successful and Steve needed a home."

What he plans to offer at The Tudor House is serious dinner theater.

One regular event will be Sunday evening sing-alongs with Steve Lawless, at which guests can purchase drinks and snacks. Connor also plans to offer Sunday brunches featuring the Wally Post jazz band.

All this will take place in a building that harkens back to the glamour of the age in which it was built. Connor has restored The Tudor House to its former splendor.

Connor has surrounded himself with a team who will help bring The Tudor House back to life. Glenda Moore, the business development manager, will market the dinner theater down the hill, attracting folks to the mountain to enjoy all it has to offer.

Steve and Marcie Lawless are serving as the building's caretakers. Marcie is also the receptionist and will take reservations for dinner and the shows.

Chef Cliff Larsen, who trained extensively in Europe, will be creating the menus with Connor. He plans to offer a choice of fish, poultry, meal or vegetarian entrees, accompanied by a starter course, soup, salad and dessert.

"We will be known for fabulous cuisine and great entertainment," Larsen said. "We will offer cutting edge new cuisine coupled with traditional Old World haute cuisine."

Larsen will be assisted by sous chefs Tina Love and Beau Stebbings.

What Connor wants is a menu that changes with every show. "I'm looking for constant change," he said. "You won't see the same thing week after week."

In addition to the plays, brunches and Sunday evenings of piano music, The Tudor House will be available for weddings, family reunions, birthday parties and other celebrations.

"This is what I have wanted to bring to the mountain forever," said Marra. "A theatrical venue. Here we can offer the audience an intimate, first-rate experience.

"I haven't met anybody else who so completely shared the vision of what a theater festival would do for us as a community," Marra said of Connor. "Come and have an amazing dinner and see a show.

"Give us a year and people down the hill will be attracted to the best weekend they've had," Marra added. "They'll come in the summer to get out of the heat, they'll come to celebrate fall, they'll come to experience spring or snow."

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