The wealthy in Long Beach have historically sought out two different parts of the city to build or buy their impressive homes. In somewhat more modern times, they’ve built along the canals of Naples and along the water-facing lots in the Peninsula.
The old money tended to gather farther north along the Virginia Country Club golf course. And while the relative youngsters along the waterfront made a racket with endless summertime parties outdoors and regattas offshore or in Alamitos Bay, the Country Club set had sedate teas and formal parties inside their cavernous mansions and raised their children to marry within their class, preferably to the sons and daughters of neighbors.
When I’m looking at houses for sale in Long Beach, I’m always on the lookout for their histories with an eye toward notable former owners—the people who had the houses built for themselves, often by notable architects.
This new listing backing up to the Virginia Country Club course at 4255 Country Club Drive was built in 1941 at a cost of a bit more than $16,000 (about $335,000 in today’s dollars) by George J. Waldvogel Jr. and his wife Charlotte.
By then, Waldvogel was a wealthy man, having already wrapped up a career in automobile sales in the early years of autos, before the Big Three—General Motors, Ford and Chrysler—had beat back the dozens of automakers that didn’t survive the competition. Those included Hudson, Packard, Nash, Hupmobile, Cleveland, Studebaker and many, many more.
Among those that didn’t have the legs to hang with the Big Three was Waldvogel’s Paige and Jewett autos in the 1920s and ’30s that he sold on his lot at 14th Street and American Avenue (now Long Beach Boulevard) or at his Hudson-Terraplane and Packard lots on Fifth Street in Downtown.
Eventually, Waldvogel had the epiphany that there was more money in money than there was in cars facing extinction, and in 1938 he sold his car business and opened Buyers Finance Co.
The house, meanwhile, made regular appearances in the society pages of the newspapers, with mentions of charity events and various A-list gatherings hosted at the house by Mrs. George J. Waldvogel—women in the news back then were called by their husbands’ names, even on first reference, until their obituaries, or in this case, on the event of the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary, which George and Charlotte celebrated in 1970. That was also the year George died, on Dec. 15.
That made for nearly 30 years that the Waldvogels enjoyed their home, which is on the market now at a listing price of $3.7 million.
And yes, it’s probably worth it.
The home was designed by architect Jess J. Jones, a one-time partner and eventual successor to Kirkland Cutter, who designed some of the most stately homes in Los Cerritos as well as homes in Palos Verdes, San Marino and Beverly Hills. Among Jones’ contributions to architecture in Long Beach was his drawing up of the site plan for the Long Beach City College campus on Carson Street in 1950 with his later partner Richard L. Poper.
The home is an expansive 4,243-square-foot ranch-style house with four bedrooms and four baths.
Highlights include a spectacular backyard with professional landscaping and a resort-style saltwater pool and spa with waterfalls. A covered patio features a fireplace and an entrance to the step-down living room with a full bar.
The large primary bedroom has a limestone fireplace, a walk-in closet and an upgraded spa bath along with a separate soaking tub and steam shower.
The kitchen is stocked with top appliances, custom cabinetry, and a large island and it flows into the formal dining room with a glass-enclosed wine room, which you can share a bottle from the downstairs wine cellar.
And of course, its setting, in the always quiet and serene Los Cerritos neighborhood, is by itself a key selling point.
The home’s agent is Sue Labounty in a relatively rare inland departure from her usual listings on the waterfront.