In the early 1900s, Long Beach was the fastest growing city in the United States. The region’s rapidly increasing population created an urgent need for housing.
Structures were built in a variety of locations and styles. The city now boasts 18 different historic districts; each area developed its own distinctive character. On June 2, Long Beach Heritage will showcase six significant residences in a home tour that highlights the range of local architectural styles.
“The Great Homes of Long Beach tour celebrates the unique nature of Long Beach, with its diverse architecture, culture, and neighborhoods,” event chair Mary Lou Martin said.
The tour will offer a look at life in Bluff Park, Belmont Heights, Bixby Knolls, Virginia Country Club and Rancho Estates. Home styles include Colonial, Prairie, Craftsman Bungalow, Ranch and Modern. Guests will be able to see the work of some of the city’s most renowned architects, including Chris Choate, Cliff May, Hugh Davies and Miner Smith.
The oldest of the structures is a Prairie home in Bluff Park. Built in 1913, this structure stands steps from the beach and offers views that extend to Catalina Island. Prairie buildings, which originated in the Midwest, emphasized horizontal lines and were favored by architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan from 1900 to 1915.
The American Arts and Crafts movement fueled the popularity of the Craftsman Bungalow in the early 20th century. Although many bungalows were simple and folksy, architect Miner Smith preferred an upscale version he called “bungalow mansions.” Miner, who lived with his family in Long Beach from 1919 to 1926, built 23 local homes.
The tour’s bungalow, completed by Miner in 1921, contains some of his signature features like built-in cabinetry and plein air art. Miner’s unique railings ring the porch of this structure. Originally a stonecutter like his father, Miner often adorned his homes with ornate stone fireplaces and railings that resembled logs.
A large lot in Belmont Heights holds a 1924 home built as a Colonial Revival, the most popular architectural style in America. This four-bedroom home also has a guest house and a popular modern feature: a pool with a waterfall.
During the ’30s, architect Hugh Davies erected his “20th Century House” in Bixby Knolls. When it was opened to public viewing in 1937, an estimated 100,000 people visited the modern masterpiece. With walls of glass and a curved walnut staircase with copper rails, the iconic home was once described as the “most beautiful in the state of California.” Its meticulous restoration led to a Preservation Award in 2006.
Mid-century modern design is represented by a 1952 Rancho Estates home. Created by architects Cliff May and Chris Choate, this house is a classic example of California Ranch style. May was known for building out, not up and working to erase the line between indoor and outdoor living. His homes emphasized light and livability.
Another Ranch home, in the Virginia Country Club, has a similar connection to the outdoors. This 1963 house has views of the golf course and downtown LA, but its owners also have chickens and a horse at their rural retreat.
Sponsored by Long Beach Home+Living, the six-home tour is a featured event in the First Annual Long Beach Architecture Week.
“Proceeds from the tour support the education and preservation efforts of Long Beach Heritage, including the ongoing operations of the Bembridge House,” Sarah Locke, Long Beach Heritage executive director, said.
For tickets and information, visit www.lbheritage.org.