Living La Vida Local


24. Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club Building, 1914
1210 Fourth St.

Architect Henry Hollwedel is noteworthy for both his professional and civic contributions to Santa Monica in the early part of the century. He was a member of the Santa Monica Board of Trade and served as the city building inspector. While he was inspector, he oversaw the construction of the Santa Monica Pier.

25. Gussie Moran House, circa 1891
1323 Ocean Ave.

This Queen Anne style Victorian hints the time when Ocean Avenue was a parade of Victorian homes, and was once owned by international tennis sensation Gussie Moran. In 1949, Moran competed at the Wimbledon Championships wearing a short tennis dress with ruffled, lace-trimmed knickers peeping out below the hem. The effect was electric — this was the first time in history that ladies’ knickers had been fully and intentionally put on broad public display.

26. Victorian House, 1906
1333 Ocean Ave.

When you see this Queen Anne-inspired Victorian, think back on the day when Ocean Avenue was a eucalyptus-lined street dotted with fashionable residences.

27. Georgian Hotel, 1931
1415 Ocean Ave.

During prohibition, the Georgian became one of Los Angeles' first speakeasies; a rendezvous spot for celebrities including Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Bugsy Siegel and Fatty Arbuckle.
Originally named The Lady Windemere, the Georgian Hotel was built as a seaside hideaway. It was the vision of Ms. Rosamond Borde — one of the first females to conquer the male-dominated building industry. Ms. Borde commissioned architect Eugene Durfee to construct the posh establishment, mixing elements of Romanesque Revival and Art Deco, and Chicago School tripartite design. The hotel is an architectural model of how to transform an elementary rectangular tower into an urbane landmark.

28. Rapp Saloon/Old Town Hall, 1875
1438 Second St.

Some properties become renowned for strange reasons. This one-story structure was built for William Rapp by Mr. Freeman. The contract went to Spencer & Pugh bricklayers and plasterers. It was the first masonry structure in Santa Monica. An 1877 advertisement in the Santa Monica Outlook called the establishment the “Los Angeles Beer Garden” with “fresh-tapped Los Angeles beer always on hand.”

29. Mayfair Theatre, 1911
212-216 Santa Monica Blvd.

How sad that this landmark has been boarded up since the Northridge Earthquake. Legend had it that the theatre, originally erected in 1911, was the oldest legitimate theater operating in Los Angeles. Believed to be constructed as an opera house, the Mayfair was built in 1911 by Charles Tegner, another founding father of Santa Monica. Designed by architect Henry C. Hollwedel, the theater, with its elaborate façade of baroque swirls and inset shields was restored in 1973 and again in 1988.

30. Oregon Avenue Sidewalk Sign, pre 1912
Santa Monica Boulevard and Fifth Street

Prior to the founding of the city of Santa Monica in 1875, streets were either numbered or named after states and territories. This corner sidewalk inlay illustrates how street labeling looked at the turn of the 20th Century. Oregon Avenue was renamed Santa Monica Boulevard in 1912.

31. Lido Hotel, 1931
1455 Fourth St.

This building is the epitome of commercial art deco, circa 1931. The Lido Hotel (today used an apartment building) is crafted of Roman brick and incorporates female motifs along the roofline. The building’s design was needed in response to the 20th Century expansion of the central business district.

32. Santa Monica Pier
Colorado Ave. + the Sea

The Santa Monica Pier is California’s oldest pleasure pier and has the only amusement park on a pier on the West Coast. Entertainment entrepreneur Charles Looff established his reputation on the East Coast, having built Coney Island’s first Carousel in Brooklyn, NY. In February 1916, he came to Santa Monica and purchased 200 feet of beachfront property for $50,000 and announced plans to build an amusement pier to be open later that summer. The Looff Pier was an immediate attraction, featuring rides like "The Blue Streak Racer" roller coaster, the "Whip" and "Aeroscope" and a hippodrome housing a hand-carved merry-go-round. The pier continues to delight visitors to Santa Monica.

33. Looff Hippodrome, 1916
Santa Monica Pier

National Register of Historic Places
Charles Looff built this hippodrome in 1916, to house his carousel. This two-story hippodrome has housed several vintage carousels and organs. The current carousel was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1922. It was moved to the Santa Monica Pier in 1947 and boasts 44 hand-carved and painted wooden horses.

34. Santa Monica City Hall, 1938
1685 Main Street

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped cure the country of “The Great Depression” by allocating several billion dollars to Public Works Administration (PWA) projects. Constructing public buildings was a means of providing employment, stabilizing purchasing power, improving public welfare, and contributing to a revival of American industry.

City Hall is a WPA project. Built in 1938-39 by architects Donald B. Parkinson and Joseph M. Estep, this is an outstanding example of Deco Moderne architecture. It features the tile work of Stanton MacDonald-Wright, founder of the Synchromism art movement, who evolved into the director of the WPA arts program for the western U.S.

35. Barnum Hall, 1938
601 Pico Blvd.

How the preservation committee treasures the Streamline Moderne style of the late Deco period. It got them to designate the Santa Monica High School auditorium as a landmark. Designed by Marsh, smith & Powell, this WPA project features the mosaics and murals of Stanton MacDonald-Wright.

36. Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1958
1855 Main St.

The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is the only surviving institutional design by architect and city resident Welton Becket. This property has been described as “an excellent example of the mid-20th century International Style.” Go figure.

Becket is also known for building such L.A. area constructions as the Capitol Records tower, Petersen Automotive Museum, the Sports Arena and Cinerama.

This series was originally written for the Santa Monica Daily Press.

If you have stories to tell of early Santa Monica and its property, share them with us. For your real estate needs, e-mail Jodi Summers at or call 310-260-8269.

A map of Santa Monica Landmark properties can be found by clicking here.

When you buy and sell real estate, work with an authority. Jodi knows property. Enjoy my real estate column and statistics every Wednesday in the Santa Monica Daily Press.

Jodi Summers
Sotheby's International Realty