Construction has begun on the Broadway Block and Acres of Books will be partially demolished as part of the new development. Bertrand Smith’s Acres of Books was a legacy business that occupied the building located at 240 Long Beach Boulevard for nearly fifty years, after relocating in 1959 from a previous location. It was declared a Long Beach Historic Landmark in 1990, but the business announced its closure in 2008 to make way for the initial Broadway Block proposal. Those plans never materialized and after years of exploring viable development options for the site, the approved plans retain only the primary facade of the historic building. The existing street-facing facade was built following the 1933 earthquake. The building’s original use was a marketplace.
On October 15, City Council voted to approve an agreement to reopen Community Hospital. The hospital has been closed due to seismic concerns and the cost of retrofitting the buildings. A cost-sharing agreement has been reached between the City of Long Beach and Molina, Wu, Network, LLC (MWN). The reopening Community Hospital will be a huge win for the community and for historic preservation.
Local architect Hugh Davies designed the Spanish Colonial Revival building, which opened in 1923 and was designated as a local landmark in 1980. Davies worked with other notable local architects, Montierth & Strickland and Power & Daniel, on the Modern addition that was completed in 1959. Read more from the Long Beach Post.
Club Ripples, a legacy business that served the LGBT community, closed on December 1, 2019. The building, located at 5101 E. Ocean Blvd, was originally the Belmont Frostee Freeze ice cream store in 1949 until 1958. Oceana, a restaurant and nightclub that established the building’s association with the LGBT community, opened by 1963. The most recent owners operated the establishment under variants of the name Ripples since 1976. An historic resource evaluation found Club Ripples and the building it occupies ineligible as a local landmark, or for listing on the California Register of Historical Resources or National Register of Historic Places. The building will become a Burgers ‘n Brews restaurant and plans for interpretation of the site’s history are currently being planned.
On October 15, 2019, City Council designated new local landmarks, including John Lautner’s Alexander Residence (1951) at 5281 El Roble Street in Park Estates (the only Lautner in Long Beach), a home designed by architect Paul Tay, and two homes located at 1500 and 3200 East First Street. The designations were inspired by the Mills Act, a valuable preservation incentive that offers property tax relief for the maintenance of historic properties.
We also officially have a new historic district in North Long Beach, Grant Neighborhood Historic District. It consists of nineteen Spanish Colonial Revival residences that make up an early suburb designed for the automobile. Read more from the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
New State Historic Tax Credit
In a major win for preservation, on October 9 Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 451, the bill creating a California Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. The bill includes a five-percent bonus for affordable housing, complementing existing federal tax incentives to provide more opportunities for rehabilitation of historic properties and compatible infill development. The program will produce jobs, as well as local and state revenue, and promote stewardship and sustainability.
Congratulations to the California Preservation Foundation for many years of hard work to lead the passage of this bill. Read more from CPF.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- The negative impact to the historic form and integrity of the property cannot easily be reversed.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.