Ebell Club brings elegant history to weddings and other special events

Alan Dunn said, “I have a taxidermied peacock in the back of my car right now.”

So, it seems somewhat superfluous to say that Dunn, who owns one of Long Beach’s more beautiful and historic buildings, the Ebell Club event space, has a preference for things a bit out of the ordinary. The Ebell Club is certainly that.

The Spanish Revival building at 1100 E. Third St. at Cerritos Avenue, is in a fairly quiet neighborhood amid single-family homes and small businesses, where it has stood since it was completed in 1924. It was the meeting place for the now-defunct Ebell Club of Long Beach, established in 1896 by philanthropist Adelaide Tichenor and 17 other women of note in the city. It was a social and charitable force for more than a century before declining membership had dwindled down to about a half-dozen women. The club folded in 2017.

Developer/preservationist Jan van Dijs bought the building in the early 2000s and worked his trademark restoration skills on it—the Long Beach-based van Dijs has been involved in scores of impressive projects including the Art Theater, the Psychic Temple/American Hotel and Fingerprints/Berlin. He repurposed the Ebell as a condominium/loft space with 11 residential units, and restored the exterior of the building as well as its events space, exposing the wood beams and listing it with the city as a historical building.

“It was a beautiful space. It was gorgeous,” said van Dijs, who had the place booked for weddings on virtually every Saturday of the year.

Van Dijs’ restoration brought the building back to its original glory, when it was used for music recitals, films, stage performances and other special events.

Its builder was Long Beach’s Charles T. McGrew, a prolific architect/contractor whose work includes the old Pacific Coast Club, Downtown’s First Congregational Church and several homes in Los Cerritos.

In 2015, the restored building was purchased by Dunn, who also owns the Carondelet House wedding venue in Los Angeles, and, conveniently, Tres LA, a catering company that serves parties and receptions at both the Carondelet and the Ebell Club.

“I revitalized the space,” said Dunn. “Before, it had a sort of high-school gym feel to it. Now, it’s very elegant and more vibrant and inviting.”

If you want to use the Ebell for your own wedding, you’d better hurry up and get engaged now. Dunn says the space, which handles about 100 to 120 events per year, is booked on Saturdays pretty much all year.

And, if your wedding is on a tight budget, you might have to scrimp on your honeymoon, because the Ebell goes for $8,500 on Saturdays, along with a $10,000 food and beverage minimum, and you should consider the fact that nobody wants to go to a minimum food-and-beverage wedding.

If you wish to use your own caterer, that’s not a problem. Just pay the $10,000 buyout fee and Tres LA is out of your hair.

For events on other days of the week, the rental fee for Ebell is $7,500, with a $7,000 food and beverage minimum, and, again, a $10,000 buyout fee.

It is a stunning space, though, with its covered courtyard featuring stenciled ceilings and mosaic flooring, and an inviting parlor with vintage furniture, whitewashed brickwork and a wood-burning fireplace.

The Ebell Club event space features multiple rooms and a covered courtyard. Courtesy photo.

Chandeliers abound in the Ebell, from gold-trimmed crystal orbs to the more traditional crystal drops style.

The venue can comfortably accommodate 300 guests and parking is available across the street on Saturdays at the Seventh-Day Adventist church parking lot.

And if you visit the Ebell’s drawing room, make sure to note the taxidermied peacock looking very much at home.

A potential challenge for both the event space and the residents of the Ebell’s 11 loft/condominiums is the fact that they both exist, but both Dunn and Realtor Nate Cole, of the architecture-focused brokerage firm Suprstructur, who has listed lofts in the Ebell on the fairly rare occasion when one comes on the market, agree that it’s not an issue.

“The lofts were built in such a way that people in the event spaces rarely hear the residents and the residents rarely hear the events,” said Dunn. “There’s a 12-foot firewall between us and the lofts, so there’s virtually no noise between the two.”

Cole also notes that the building is a quiet place to live, and its residents appear loath to sell their lofts.

“In the past five years we’ve only had five sales,” said Cole.

Among the selling points for the Ebell properties is the fact that every unit has a bit of a patio, which gives residents a feeling of having some outdoor space and, on the upper floor, a nice view over the neighborhood. “It’s a rare feature for lofts,” said Cole. “It’s not something you find at the Walker or Kress or any of the other Downtown lofts, where the only outdoor features are the common areas.”

In this real-estate era where practically everything above the ground floor is termed a penthouse, the Ebell Lofts is no exception, with more than half of its units getting the penthouse tag—all of the six units on the second story are considered penthouses, said Cole.

A penthouse rooftop deck at the Ebell Lofts. Courtesy photo.

One upper-level unit that sold for $699,000 in 2018 by the Whipple Group, features soaring, 20-foot-high ceilings and contains some of the building’s original pieces of architecture that were incorporated by van Dijs in the restoration. These include brick walls with projector openings (the Ebell’s theater had to be demolished to make room for the lofts), keyhole windows and original arched window panes.

The loftiness of the Ebell residents refers to the upstairs mezzanines, which can be used as a guest bedroom or office.

The units in the building, which range from 1,500 to 2,200 square feet, have open kitchens with custom cabinetry and granite countertops, as well as en-suite master bedrooms.

Exposed brick and neighborhood views are key features of the Ebell Lofts. Courtesy photo.

Upper levels are equipped with motorized skylights, allowing sea breezes to circulate through the units, and the larger lofts come with two parking space with optional storage and bike storage available.

To keep an eye on upcoming sales availability, check Cole’s Unique California Properties site, or swing by The Whipple Group, which specializes in Long Beach area lofts.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.