‘Dolly Varden Hotel’ Vintage Neon Sign Restored to 1930s Glory

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Photo by Brian Addison.

Staying true to the spirit of Long Beach’s love of its history, the boutique Varden Hotel in downtown Long Beach has re-installed the iconic “Dolly Varden Hotel” neon sign to its former 1930s glory.

Built in 1929, the Dolly Varden Hotel had a luxury that not many accommodations in the city of Long Beach could brag about: a bath in every room. And its beautifully classic neon sign boasted of this amenity for the many years it served as a hotel staple in downtown Long Beach.

The old-school, brick building sits on Pacific between 3rd and 4th. The sign itself was designated an historical landmark in 1995 by the City, but the years of wear’n’tear had turned it into little more than a tattered banner.

Larry Black, who purchased the building in 2008 to create the Varden Hotel, had always felt the sign should be restored to its former glory—but should be done so properly.

“We color sampled and tested by taking off layers of paint to determine the original color in the 30s was the black lacquer with antique off-white lettering,” Black said.

Hoisted in two sets by a crane, the sign—which took eight months to restore—was finally fully functional on Monday. At night, the red and blue neon glows just as it had beginning in the 1930s.

“I think people will actually be walking by to take pictures of it that are visiting because it is such an iconic symbol,” Black said.

According to Black, this was the final of many phases to restore the entire building.

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