Mysterious Historic Facades Attract Attention
Editor's Note: Today Patch introduces a new blogger, Belmont Heights resident, small business owner (housestories.com) and Long Beach historical expert Maureen Neeley. She will take us on regular adventures into our local history, examining that building you always wonder about and telling us about its past. Feel free to ask her questions in our comments below.
Like an archeological dig, a worker chipped away in June at the slatted façade which had hung over the Latin Barbershop and Pho Hong Phut Restaurant for the past 60 years. Underneath were clues to an Anaheim Street of the past, one of the oldest and longest streets in what was once called Zaferia in East Long Beach.
Built in the 1920s, these two buildings located on the corner of Coronado (at 3235 and 3243 Anaheim) are getting a makeover, courtesy of the (now-defunct) Redevelopment Agency (RDA). The funds were allocated years ago and the project is finally getting underway with Howard CDM, contractor, and Interstices Architects.
To enhance the façade, the first order of business was to remove the slatted siding that, according to permits, was probably first installed in the 1950s, then replaced in 1978. The siding served two purposes: 1) To unify the storefronts; and, 2) Unwittingly preserve the signage posted there when the storefronts held Andy’s Liquor Store and Chere Amie Beauty Salon. Over the past 90 years, this corner has been the business address for Bear State Lumber Co., various insurance agents and lawyers, as well as a drug store and a restaurant.
In enhancing the façade today, the original scored concrete design over Louis’ Latin Barber Shop is now seeing daylight again. Although this building was erected in 1920, it appears to have outwitted the 1933 Earthquake which decimated so much of Anaheim’s commercial structures. With detailed pilasters (I think of them as attached “faux” columns) and a band of stylized fringe, the old storefront façade is much more interesting than the band of molded stucco found next door, and certainly an improvement on the diagonal green slats.
What is it about old buildings? People are fascinated with the real thing. This façade improvement has garnered much interest, with people stopping to take pictures and wonder at what else might be unearthed on Anaheim Street.
A few miles to the west, a similar renovation uncovered another façade. This one was on the old Cytron Furniture Company at 425 E. 4th Street in the East Village. Essentially, what started as new construction ended up as a mysterious façade incorporated into a new, hip design.
Some might say, well, we can recreate any of these designs. Why not just make our new buildings look old? To that, I say, “Really?” We all know it’s not just about the design, it’s about the intrigue, the discovery, the unearthing of times past and the telling of the tale of hopes and dreams of these original builders, architects and store owners. Creating a Disneyland of old style architecture doesn’t cut it. Luckily, Long Beach has not demolished all of its old buildings. There is plenty of stock just waiting to be chipped away, unpeeled and uncovered. What building will be next?