International Surfing Museum's $2.5 Million Expansion Fundraiser Kicks Off With 'Century Of Stoke'

(Rendering courtesy of the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum)

Last November the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum wowed us with its completed renovation and "Famers" opening. On Friday, June 20, the 27-year-old local institution forced our jaws to the ground once again with a VIP opening of its newest exhibit, "Century of Stoke," and the unveiling of its upcoming expansion plans. As it turns out, the museum's second location will live directly across Fifth Street, and a tidy $2.5 million price tag clings to the project.

Late museum founder Natalie Kotsch blessed the expansion before she passed in February, asking her team to, and we paraphrase Brett Barnes, chairman of the museum's board of directors, "Make this the best museum it can be." Thanks to the Briggs family, a few determined minds and hands, and a few more generous donations, it just might be. 

Pristine Motorsports has called the Briggs' building at Fifth and Olive home for more than 35 years. With owner Dick Thorpe readying to retire, the family wants to give back to HB via their downtown property. So they've offered up their building to the museum in hopes of leaving behind a family legacy. The museum's recent makeover, however, will not go to waste. Rather, the museum will expand into a so-called "campus," remaining rooted at 411 Olive Avenue and taking up a second residence on the ground floor of the Briggs' building, which will undergo a substantial facelift over the next two years.

With Torrance-based Withee Malcolm Architects on board, the structure will be transformed into a mixed-use building, with four ocean view penthouse suites perched 40 feet in the air on the top level, residential condos or apartments settling into the third and second floors, and the expanded museum space occupying 5,000 square feet of the first floor. The existing museum measures approximately 2,000 square feet, so within two years it will more than double in size.

(Rendering courtesy of the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum)

Modern retro with a coastal twist, the new building's design reaches to be "iconic" and to "leave a statement," according to initial architect Mike Adams. The first renderings, which are, says Adams, "just sketches to get everyone excited and kick the project off the ground," utilize a theme that we spotted in the recently released renderings of Paséa, the new luxury hotel under construction at Pacific City. It's a play on what Surf City USA is so well-known for: its waves. A series of curved glass sheets protrude from the building's facade, paying homage to the raging Pacific just a few blocks west. The exterior also comes complete with surfboard pillars.

Inside, the museum's display room will engulf much of the ground floor, with a complete waterman's storage and rinse room for residents as well as a possible Porsche showroom sharing the first level. The building will even glow at night, while the existing museum will remain in all its iconic art deco glory. One space will serve as a research and educational facility, and the other will house exhibits. Who's who remains undecided.

The top level looks to be an unrivaled lodging option for the surfing industry, with four loft apartments and a large deck area for entertaining. Both Barnes and Adams noted that the units are perfect for branding and for boarding celebrity surfers visiting HB. Loud parties are not in the cards for the top floor, given that "[Pete] PT [Townend] can't come" to any of the penthouse soirees, according to Barnes.

To address another concern of locals—parking—roughly 36 subterranean parking spaces have been worked into the plan to accommodate residents, and a few extra street spots will open up as a result of the building's transformation. After that, it's standard street and lot parking for visitors.

The cost to bring the entire building to life is estimated at between $10 and $12 million.

Fundraising, no matter who you are or what you stand for, is never an easy venture, and collecting $2.5 million to develop, build and maintain the museum will prove difficult. Duke's is reportedly signing on, and the public can and should also help. Donations are currently being accepted; interested donors should contact Museum Director-At-Large Cindy Cross via phone, 714-960-3483, or email, Supporters can also purchase memberships to the museum, which are offered on three tiers—annual, $25; lifetime, $250; and patron, annual commitment of $500+—and include amazing perks. Of course, sharing is caring too.

"Century of Stoke" honors 100 years of surfing in HB, highlighting moments in surf history via various mediums. Footprints guide visitors on a historic tour around the space, which is outfitted with dozens of artifacts, from vintage wood surfboards and old school Op Pro posters, to aged surfing trophies and a rad replica of Gordie Surfboards, the first surf shop in HB. The "Surfboards on Parade" collaboration board by shaper Chris Carrozza and Museum Exhibits Director Dave C. Reynolds also hangs as part of the exhibit, which opened to the public on Sunday, June 22, and will display through Sunday, November 30.

"Century of Stoke" (Photo by Lauren Lloyd)

Additionally, don't miss the BeBetterBoards eco-friendly surfboard shaped by Larry "The Rubberman" Bertlemann, celebrating the exhibit opening. It will display at the museum for an indefinite amount of time.


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