Long Beach, CA 90802
To me, Villa Riviera is the most recognizable building in Long Beach, and after having lived across the street from this building, I can personally attest to its beauty close-up. Built in 1929 by architect Richard D. King, Villa Riviera’s architectural style is considered Tutor Gothic, however, the clean geometric lines take precedent over any decorative detail. It’s beautiful exterior was recently restored, uncovering the building’s clean, cream-colored stonework and green copper roof with surrounding gargoyles.
Located on the corner of Ocean and Alamitos, it’s unique “L” shaped profile and crowning turret make the building a prominent landmark. At fifteen stories, it was the second tallest building in Southern California, following Los Angeles City Hall. After its completion, it won an international architectural competition, and officially put Long Beach “on the map”. Built as a luxury “own your own” apartment, it was converted into a hotel when the Great Depression hit, though today it is a condominium. The building underwent a comprehensive rehabilitation in 1989, including seismic strengthening and repainting. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
- The first ever Miss Universe Pagent was held here in 1952
- The building cost $2.75 million to build, and in 1937 was sold to the president of 20th Century Fox and his silent film star wife for $1.5 million, which was considered one of the largest purchases in Southern California at the time (oh how times have changed!)
- Amazingly, Villa Riviera suffered no structural damage during the 1933 Long Beach earthquake!
- During the 1940s and 50s the building housed many senior officers of the Navy fleet and the turret atop the roof was used to spot enemy ships off the coast during WWII
(photos found on southland architecture, wxnut.home.mindspring, latimes blog, longbeachneighborhoods)
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