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Farewell to 'Sweeney House' Through Pictures

Jan 18, 2016 09:29PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The Sweeney house is filled with memories about the way Manhattan Beach used to be, and artist Gary Sweeney wants to share those memories with the town. He has covered the outside of his family home, at 320 35th Street in Manhattan Beach, with historic photographs for the public to view through the end of February.

Sweeney will host a public reception at the home on January 30 from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m.

"My parents bought the home in 1945 for $5,400 - furnished! My sister and I both came home from the hospital to it, my grandmother died there, my father died there, and my father built all of the additions onto the house," said Sweeney, who lived in the house until he was in his 20s.

"The house was sold a few months ago, and a condition of the sale is that I get to take occupancy of it through February so I can do this project," added Sweeney.

The photos covering the front of the house show various family members, including Sweeney, his parents, sister, and cousins. A large photo mounted as a sign in the front yard shows how the house looked in 1946.

Sweeney's late father, Mike Sweeney, was a well-known leader in Manhattan Beach. "
My father was a pillar of the community: PTA president, Cub Scout master, city councilman for 20 years, mayor (three times), Coordinating Council president, and Citizen of the Year - twice. The list is endless. And he was a genuinely nice guy, very beloved by everyone," said the younger Sweeney.

But Mike Sweeney was perhaps best known for his store, Sweeney's Hardware, at the corner of Rosecrans and Highland. A story in the L.A. Times when the store closed in 1988 described it as "
a sort of combination hardware store and political forum" where Sweeney's customers knew him as a merchant who "was willing to change light bulbs for the mechanically inept and hang onto spare keys for nearby residents who frequently find themselves locked out of their houses."

The store also provided a workshop in the back where people could come in and use the shop's tools for free. When it finally closed, one resident called it "the saddest thing that ever happened to the whole town."

So far, the reactions to the photo display have been "overwhelming," said Gary Sweeney. He added that he hopes that the display will bring back warm memories for those who know Manhattan Beach well.

"I would like people who knew our family to leave with a smile on their faces, with fond memories of a house filled with fun and laughter. And I would like people who didn't know us to leave with fond memories of their own families, and to reflect on what a very special place it was to be raised in Manhattan Beach."

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