This gave the Cliff House somewhat of a scandalous reputation and ended up and stayed under the care of J.M. Wilkins, who was encouraged to bring back a family friendly atmosphere. After a structural damaging explosion, the Cliff House was restored by Dr. Emma Merrit and John Tait using the Sutro estate fund. The Cliff House was temporarily shut due to military orders. It stayed closed until the late 1930s, where owners George and Leo Whitney bought, restored, and added to the Cliff House.
The Cliff House Totem Pole was installed in 1949. An article announcing the installment of the pole read, “Chief Mathias Joe Capilano of the Squamish Indians of Western Canada, he carve ‘um 58-foot totem pole for George K. Whitney to plant in front of Cliff House. The carving was broken in half during a storm sometime in the 1950s and was later moved to its current location. The figures on the pole were loosely representative of the immediate family of George K. Whitney, owner of the former Playland amusement park.