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The Soroptimist House

At a community meeting on May 29, 2019, California State University, Long Beach revealed plans to construct a new Alumni Center on the current site of the Soroptimist House.

Designed by local architects Francis O. Merchant and J. Richard Shelley, the Soroptimist House opened its doors on January 20, 1957. The building received a 650-square-foot addition, attributed to Edward Killingsworth, in 1961. It was constructed by the Long Beach chapter of Soroptimist International, which was founded in 1923 and has a notable history of supporting women in the community, and donated to the Associated Student Body for the University’s first Student Union.


Photos by Sarah Locke

The Long Beach Petroleum Club

The Long Beach Petroleum Club is a social organization that was founded in 1955 and moved to its current location at 3636 Linden Avenue in 1958. The Petroleum Club is now in escrow to be purchased by an undisclosed local buyer.

Ground was broken in 1957 for the new 14,000 square foot building by architect John Richard Shelley. The facilities include several meeting spaces, a large theater/banquet room, and a large circular bar. This legacy business has played a central role in the Bixby Knolls community and citywide patrons who consider it a premier venue for special events and members-only exclusive access to the facilities and swimming pool.

The building is also a notable example of Modern design by local architect J. Richard Shelley. Many interior features remain intact and the primary facade of the building has a distinguished barrel vault roofline, stained-glass clerestory windows, and rough-cut stone veneer. Shelley was raised in Long Beach and established a productive career in the city with business partners Vern Hedden and Francis Merchant. Shelley’s work from this period also includes Temple Beth Zion in Lakewood and the Hyatt House Hotel at San Francisco Airport. 

Preservation Month included a This Place Matters meetup at the Petroleum Club to allow the community to share their memories and vision for the building’s future. The Adaptive Reuse Ordinance and/or other historic preservation incentives are available to rehabilitate the building.


Image courtesy of
Proposed work at 635 Loma Avenue; Image courtesy of City of Long Beach and Jeannette Architects.

635 Loma Avenue

A revised plan was approved at the Cultural Heritage Commission meeting on March 11, 2019 for a second story addition to a contributing property located at 635 Loma Avenue within the Belmont Heights Historic District. The Belmont Heights Community Association appealed the decision and we supported their effort because the proposed work at 635 Loma Avenue does not comply with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the Belmont Heights Historic District Design Guidelines adopted by the City of Long Beach.

  1. There is a significant impact to character-defining features of the property. Integrity of these features is what makes it a contributor to the historic district. 
  2. The negative impact to the historic form and integrity of the property cannot easily be reversed. 
  3. The second-story addition is highly visible from the public right-of-way and is not compatible with the single-story character of the street. It not only negatively impacts this street within Belmont Heights Historic District, but sets an undesirable precedent for inappropriate additions to other single-story streets in our historic districts.

Unfortunately, the Planning Commission denied the appeal on Thursday, May 16th and upheld the decision made by the Cultural Heritage Commission. If you live in a historic district and would like your voice to be heard regarding changes in your community, become a member and learn about the work we do to support our historic neighborhoods.  


Senate Bill 50

SB 50, a bill that aimed to incentive housing development near transit rich areas but offered limited protection for historic resources, is on hold until 2020. Long Beach Heritage joined the California Preservation Foundation and other historic preservation nonprofit organizations across the state to submit letters to Senator Scott Wiener and Senator Mike McGuire to address the lack of protection for historic resources in Senate Bill 50. We will continue to work with our partners and request your support as we navigate the challenges of the state housing crisis. 

Read the letters submitted by the California Preservation Foundation and find out how you can help protect the unique character within our communities.



The Port of Long Beach Administration Building

Architect Warren Dedrick designed the Port of Long Beach Administration Building, completed in 1959, and it served as the headquarters of port activity until 2014. The building will soon be demolished with a replacement project yet to be approved. Long Beach Heritage has been working with the Port for several years to relocate the ceramic tile mural, created by artist Paul Souza for Gladding McBean, on the primary facade of the building. A campaign to relocate the mural is almost fully funded and we welcome your donations. Removal of the tile was completed in October 2018 and the mural will remain in storage until a new location is secured.


Photo credit: Louise Ivers

Former Parsonage of the First Congregational Church

The former parsonage of the First Congregational Church, formerly located at 640 Pacific Avenue since 1927, was moved in a fourth time in November 2018 survived three prior moves and recently completed a fourth to make way for a new residential complex by Holland Partner Group. The Queen Anne Victorian cottage was built in 1887 and is listed as a local landmark. It is now located on West 10th Street in the Willmore City Historic District and will undergo rehabilitation.


Photo by Sarah Locke

Eldridge Combs Office Building

The Elridge Combs Office Building (4241 Long Beach Boulevard) and the former Hof’s Hut Restaurant on the adjacent parcel were designed by master architect Edward Killingsworth in the 1960s. Both properties were recently sold to a new owner and advocacy efforts produced a compatible design that aimed to retain many character-defining features, though notable alterations are expected to convert the former Combs building to a dental office.


Photo by Sarah Locke

Hof’s Hut Bixby Knolls

Hof’s Hut was a fixture in Bixby Knolls for 55 years, but Hof’s Hospitality Group decided to permanently vacate the leased building after a fire in 2015. More than 1,300 people signed a petition to encourage restoration of the modern restaurant designed by master architect Edward Killingsworth. The building was sold and the City of Long Beach diligently worked with the new owner to produce an updated restaurant design that was sensitive to the original building. In October 2017, demolition work exceeded the approved plans and a stop-work order was issued.


Photo credit: Christopher Launi

Historic District Design Guidelines

The City of Long Beach has been working with stakeholders to revise guidelines for local historic districts. The public comment period ended in May 2018 and updated guidelines are being released individually for each district. Design guidelines for California Heights Historic District were adopted at the November 2018 Cultural Heritage Commission meeting.