Belmont Heights was its own city for just one year in 1908, before it hitched up with Long Beach in one of the early expansions of the city. Back then, the Heights was a bit of a trek into town, so construction was fairly slow to get going, but as we headed into the ‘20s, building began booming and houses, many of them of craftsman and Spanish Revival architecture, began crowding the area.
Halfway through the 1930s, a dentist and his wife who had moved to California from Philadelphia found a promising lot atop a knoll a few blocks from the sea, where it would catch the unimpeded breezes and views of the Pacific.
The street was appropriately called Vista, and the stately two-story home built nearly 90 years ago by dentist Gordon G. Brown Sr. for his family still stands, having lost none of its elegance in the intervening decades at 5027 Vista St.
Most remarkably, the house has remained in the same family until now. Brown’s son, Gordon G. Brown Jr., was in the construction business and was active in the boating community as a member of the Long Beach Yacht Club and as commodore of the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club. His wife was active in the community and spent 25 years working as a volunteer for Community Hospital.
Gordon Jr. died last May at the age of 94, and now the family is selling the house—the first time it’s been on the market in its 88-year history.
Perhaps because of the lack of a parade of different owners with divergent tastes in decor over the years, the home has remained fairly unaltered, leaving extant such trappings as crown molding, hardwood floors, hand-laid tiles, pedestal sinks and glass doorknobs as well as built-in cabinetry. One prays to the gods of architecture that the home doesn’t fall into the hands of a quick and soulless flipper.
From the curb, you get a strong clue of the home’s elegance. It’s traditional in style, with banks of windows on both floors and a balcony that stretches much of the length of the building.
A brick walkway leads, through landscaped shrubbery and mature trees to the covered entry, to a formal entry beneath a chandelier and before the elegant staircase. A large living room features a fireplace and French doors opening to the pool in the backyard.
The first floor also has one of the home’s six bedrooms, along with a formal dining room with a chandelier and a bay window. The kitchen has a dining nook, a beamed ceiling and a built-in desk, and a handsome paneled office has built-in cabinetry.
The large bedrooms are upstairs, including the primary suite with access to both the front and rear balconies, the latter overlooking the pool.
As nice as it is to find a home of this vintage left largely untouched, there will likely be some modernization required of the buyer, because homes do tend to fall behind the times. It has been upgraded to some degree throughout the years, and the listing agents acknowledge that it’s been a few decades since the last significant upgrades.
Still, it’s a solid start, and if this surviving structure of 88 years can escape the fate of a teardown or a heartless flip, it should remain a jewel of Belmont Heights for many more years.
This story has been edited to correct the name of Gordon Brown and Gordon Brown Jr.