Expansion Narrative (a work in progress)
Please send your comments or suggestions on this narrative to Bill Maurer (email@example.com)
(scroll down for the description of the existing Craftsman Village Historic District)
East of Walnut
The area east of Walnut Avenue and south of 10th Street to Cherry Avenue comprises a continuous architectural and historical fabric with the existing Craftsman Village Historic District. Like the existing Craftsman Village Historic District, it is a distinctive area that was part of the original Alamitos Beach Townsite, planned in 1888. Construction of improvements took place between c.1902-1928, and the area is a remarkably cohesive neighborhood of small-scale Craftsman bungalow homes. Most are single-family homes, but multi-family examples also appear. A handful of homes representing a sub-theme of a later architectural style, Spanish Colonial Revival, appeared in the late twenties.
The Coleman Tract consists of the first ten parcels between Walnut and Gaviota (formerly Poinsettia) north of 8th St. The Sanborn Map of 1914 shows structures on eight of these parcels. Data from the Assessor’s Office shows that the tract north of this, Tract 3129, was developed shortly thereafter, beginning in 1918. South of 8th, the Walnut Avenue and 7th St. Tract was developed earlier, around 1907, with structures on eight of the eighteen lots in 1914. All the lots were occupied by 1944.
The George H. Walker Track, bounded by 10th and 8th Streets and Gaviota and Rose Avenues, was also developed around the same time. The 1914 Sanborn Map shows buildings on fourteen of the twenty-four lots; all the lots were occupied by 1944. Assessor’s Office data indicates most construction took place in the 1910s.
South of the Walker Tract, the Sparkes Subdivision was developed in the teens as well; fourteen of the eighteen lots were occupied in 1914. Additional construction took place in the 1920s. The Sparkes Subdivision continues east of Rose to Gardenia. The 1914 Sanborn Map shows that all but one of the parcels of this eastern portion of the Subdivision had been developed at that time.
The contributing properties in Tract 2983, between 10th and 8th Streets and Rose and Gardenia Avenues, were built slightly later than the others in this district, mainly in the 1920s.
Tract 4327, from 7th to 8th Streets and Gardenia to Cherry Avenues, was not as developed as the others during the 1910s and was primarily built up after 1920. The same is true for Tract 1852, north of this from 8th to 10th Streets, although the 1914 Sanborn Map shows that the parcels had been plotted out at that time. The map shows the same situation for the James G. Martz Tract, east of Cherry between 7th and 8th.
A profile of area residents from the 1920 City Directory shows a similar pattern to that of the existing Craftsman Village Historic District. Occupations listed include clerks and accountants, building contractors, laborers, salesmen, dairy workers for the Long Beach Dairy, and one of the owners of the Childers and Albright fishing boats company at the Pine Avenue Pier.
This district contains a high concentration of original Craftsman bungalows from the first development of this residential neighborhood in the early years of the twentieth century. The neighborhood is visually cohesive and largely intact, with the scale and character of an early Long Beach middle-class residential tract.
Although there are some larger and newer multifamily buildings and some altered single family homes, the neighborhood retains a remarkable degree of its original historic character, and is part of a continuous fabric of historically significant homes from Orange Avenue all the way to the boundaries of the Rose Park Historic District.
The area West of Orange toward Alamitos was developed in the same time period as the existing Craftsman Village Historic District, and consists of a number of well-preserved examples of Craftsman and Spanish-revival architecture. One very distinctive feature, discussed further below, is Ninth Place, formerly called Ewart Court.
North of Hellman to 10th Street is the Long Beach Land Company’s Villa Tract. The Sandborn maps show that most of the lots were built on by 1914. Cerritos Avenue north of Hellman was originally named Hazard Avenue, but was renamed by 1913. An article by the famous Long Beach local historian Walter Case in the Daily Telegram (October 9, 1913) heralded the construction of 904 Cerritos by Bruner and Bushong, a contracting firm that specialized in bungalows.* Bushong was a descendent of Katherine Robinson Bushong, one of the first white settlers of Long Beach who came with her parents in 1882.* The first occupant, Mr. Alfred Anspach, was a cement contractor who also laid the cement sidewalks and driveway and had moved from 860 Cerritos. The article describes the classic bungalow features of the exterior and interior, including seven gables, a cement porch, interior buttresses and columns, a fireplace – unusual for the area – as well as built-ins throughout the house.
South of Hellman to 7th Street is the Coughran Tract, which was developed at the same time and in the same manner as the Long Beach Land Company’s Villa Tract.
A profile of residents from the 1920 City Directory shows a similar pattern to that of the existing Craftsman Village Historic District. Residents included the owner of Lambert Furniture Company, a cashier at Hoyt’s Theater, as well as carpenters, bookkeepers, woodworkers, widows, a shipbuilder and a cabinetmaker. Some residents had relatives elsewhere in the proposed expansion area. One resident was the widow of a Civil War veteran.*
This unique group of houses was built as an “own your own” bungalow court in 1924 by developer J.P. Stevens, whose Stevens Development Company partnered with Howard Ewart after demonstrating the success of own-your-own apartment houses. The parcel on which fourteen small Spanish-revival style bungalows were built fronts onto Orange Avenue and extends three hundred feet deep to San Pablo Court (formerly Gladys Court). A street eighteen feet wide stretches down the middle of the project. Each house has an eleven and a half foot setback. The two facing Orange were originally conceived as duplexes. It was named Ewart Court by the developers but the Sanborn Map of 1944 indicates that the street’s official designation was 9th St., though the name “Ewart Court” is included in parenthesis on the 1944 and 1949 Sanborn Maps.
Ewart was a lumberman from Spokane, Washington, who retired to Long Beach around 1918. Stevens was a hotel developer in Long Beach. Steven’s wife, “Mrs. J. P. Stevens,” was credited with the interior touches, choosing “different blends of tiffany tinting for the walls, with the wood trim, molds and casing matched in a variety of mediums from enamel to stipple and stained gumwood” so that “one scarcely realizes that the plan and arrangement of [the houses] are the same” (Long Beach Press, February 3, 1924, section VI, p.3). The Stevenses and their sons occupied two of the houses (1185 and 1187). The Stevens Development Company donated the right of way to the City of Long Beach and paid for the construction of the street as well as the gutters and sidewalks.
All of the homes except the duplexes sold as soon as they were built. Residents were a mix of laborers, middle-class professionals and others, some with relatives on nearby Hellman Street. The 1925 City Directory lists the following occupations for residents of Ewart Court: lumberman, chef, superintendent, widow, student, laborer, builder, two brothers who worked as meter-men for the Gas Department, a grocer, a chemist, one of the principle partners of the real estate and insurance firm Smith and Peterson, and Harry H. Williams, one of the principle partners of the firm Cadwell and Williams. Williams was the son of Dr. M. Hilton Williams, who ran Long Beach’s first Sunday School (the school was established in 1883, and Dr. Williams assumed control of it in 1884).*
The Court, now called Ninth Place, has remained intact. The homes maintain the same Spanish revival exterior touted at the time of their construction in the 1920s and the court looks almost exactly as it did in the Long Beach Press’s full page story on the development published February 3, 1924. Some interior elements described in that story are preserved in several of the houses as well.
Aside from the architectural coherence and unity of this area, the proposed historic district has a dense social history that connects the expansion area to the existing Craftsman Village Historic District. As noted above, one of the first residents of Ewart Court was related to a resident at 1333 Hellman (Mr. Bulach, plasterer by trade). And the Hitchcock family occupied homes at 847 Cerritos and 762 Walnut. Residents east and west of Walnut occupied similar positions as clerks, accountants, and salesmen, as well as laborers, contractors and builders. There was a small scattering of more educated professionals throughout the area, as well as students and widows.
In addition, the area evidenced cultural and ethnic diversity from the beginning. Japanese families lived on Hellman and Rose prior to World War II,* and Jewish families made the area their home. This may be because Isaias Hellman, one of the partners of the Alamitos Land Company, was a prominent member of Long Beach’s early Jewish community and may have permitted a relaxation of deed restrictions against Jews and Asians that existed throughout Long Beach.*
The area is also stitched together by memories, particularly memories of migration, travel, and leisure. Residents remember soldiers and sailors lining up from Ocean all the way down the Toledo Walk as they were called up for duty in World War II. They also remember sitting at the soda fountain at Middough’s Drug Store on the corner of Orange and 7th before 1950,* and the miniature golf course on the corner of Cherry and 10th. Jewish residents of the area would walk to Temple Israel for worship. In the 1950s and 1960s, many residents were associated with the Pike. The Tattooed Man lived on the Toledo Walk and Harold Soukup of 8th Street ran the cider stand, storing his fruit in a warehouse – now a garage – on 9th. A blind couple who operated a hurdy-gurdy also lived on 8th St.
More recently, the neighborhood was the destination for a new wave of immigrants from Mexico and Southeast Asia, particularly Cambodia and Vietnam. Beginning in the 1980s, members of the Gonzalez family began to settle in the area on the east and west side of Walnut. They came from the villages of Yahualica de Gonzalez Gallo and Huisquilco in the state of Jalisco. In 2000, the Chua Phat To Buddhist temple was constructed north of 9th Place and is now the home to a spiritual community of monks from the border region between Vietnam and Cambodia. Since 2004, the Craftsman Village Historic District Focus Group has been producing and distributing a newsletter in English, Spanish, Khmer (Cambodian), and Vietnamese to residents of the existing district as well as the proposed expansion area.
The History of the Existing Craftsman Village Historic District (from the ordinance that created the district in 1991)
The Craftsman Historic Landmark District is situated on land that was formerly part of Rancho Los Alamitos. A tract map for this area, created by the Alamitos Land Company for the Alamitos Beach Townsite, Villa and Farm Lots, is dated April, 1888. It shows Hellman Street, Tenth Street, Walnut and Orange. The first recorded tract map in this neighborhood, the Alamitos Tract, dated December 17, 1898, is similar in configuration but not identical to the 1888 map. The Sanborn Fire Insurance map of 1902 shows the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad running along Ocean Park (now Ocean) and diagonally along Alamitos Avenue, then north on California (now Martin Luther King). Hellman Street, Orange and Walnut appear as streets, but there were no houses or other improvements indicated in the area.
Hellman Street was named after one of the partners of the Alamitos Land Company, Isaias W. Hellman. Hellman was a German immigrant who came to Los Angeles in 1859 and got a job in a dry goods store. Several years later he opened his own store, and grew into a very prominent and successful businessman and financier. He organized the Farmers and Merchants Bank in 1871 in Los Angeles, and served as its president until his death in 1920. He purchased Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach with members of the Bixby family in 1881, and had extensive real estate holdings both in Long Beach and Los Angeles. In 1902, he helped to establish the Long Beach Savings Bank and served on its Board of Directors.
Several tracts in this area were subdivided from the Alamitos Tract in 1904 and 1905. The Bridge Tract between 7th and Hellman was recorded September 24, 1904 and the Hoffman Tract September 6, 1905. Hoffman Street lies in the middle of this tract. The 1905 Sanborn maps show a few scattered small-scale dwellings in this area, although it was still outside City limits.
The pace of subdivision picked up between 1911 and 1919, by which time almost the entire area was divided into different tracts. This coincides with an acceleration of residential construction appearing on the Sanborn maps. The 1914 Sanborns show approximately one-third of the area with dwellings.
Tax assessment records show construction dates predominantly from the 'teens to the early 'twenties.
A profile of area residents obtained from the 1920 City Directories shows occupants in various trades, several as carpenters. Occupations listed also include actor, plasterer, decorative artist, electrician, bookkeeper, advertising manager, post office carrier, ship worker, meat cutter, cement molder and clerk. (Source: 1920 City Directory, Hellman Street).
The area today still contains most of the original construction, and has attracted residents interested in the revival of craftsman style architecture.
This district contains a high concentration of original Craftsman bungalows from the first development of this residential neighborhood in the early years of the twentieth century. The neighborhood is visually cohesive and largely intact, with the scale and character of an early Long Beach middle-class residential tract. Construction of these homes took place primarily from c. 1911 - 1920, with the earliest one built in 1902 (1333 Hellman), and the last historic homes in 1928. The period of historic significance is 1902 - 1928. Although there are some larger and newer multifamily buildings and some altered single family homes, the neighborhood retains a remarkable degree of its original historic character.
The Craftsman architectural style was current in California vernacular architecture from c. 1905 - 1920. Its philosophy was based upon an admiration for natural materials: simple, straightforward design; and open spatial qualities. Typically, the post-and-beam structure is made visible in the roof area, the porch and in the framing of major building components. Roofs are low or medium pitched, with projecting roof rafters and beam ends, and open vents under gables. Exterior cladding is wood clapboard or shingles. Broad open porches generally have masonry foundations and piers of massive, heavy dimensions. Windows are often subdivided into geometric sections.
This is a distinctive area that was part of the original Alamitos Beach Townsite, planned in 1888. Construction of improvements took place between c. 1902 - 1928, and represents a remarkably cohesive neighborhood of small scale Craftsman bungalow homes. Most are single-family homes but multi-family examples also appear. A sub-theme of a later architectural style, Spanish Colonial Revival, appeared in the late 'twenties.
The repetition of gabled roofs,
open porches and other Craftsman bungalow features creates visual harmony
*source on 904 Cerritos: Walter Case, "Charming Bungalow on Cerritos Avenue. Daily Telegram, October 19, 1913, p.7, col.3.
*source on Bushong family: Walter Case, "Pioneers here in '92 crossed paths thirty years before," Did You Know That...?, II, 285; see also II, 286.
*source on war widow: Callie Mayes obituary, Long Beach Press, April 4, 1916, p.3, col. 4
source for all information on Ewart Court: Long Beach Press, Sunday, February 3, 1924, section 6, p.3, col.1
*sources on Williams family: Walter Case, "Judge Witney was first Sunday School head here," Did You Know That...? I, 78; and Daily Telegram, May 4, 1906, Mrs. M.H. Williams, obituary
*sources on Japanese families: 1920 City Directory and Hatchero Ohnick obituary, Long Beach Press, November 23, 1921.
*sources on Hellman: coming soon!
*source on Middough's: 1945 and 1950 Long Beach Telephone Books; it does not appear in the 1955 telephone book