Heritage Award winners this year includes some heroic home rescues

Standing against those who are avidly intent on tearing down historic and architecturally significant (and beautiful) buildings, are Long Beach’s preservationists, a group that includes some city workers, several architects and contractors, the city’s own Cultural Heritage Commission and, not to be confused with that group though it often is, Long Beach Heritage.

Long Beach Heritage is a not-for-profit organization that has encouraged and advocated for historic preservation since 1980. Additionally, the organization educates owners of these buildings on how best to preserve and rehabilitate them, and, annually, the group honors people at the vanguard of Long Beach’s maintaining and improving the city’s collection of architectural  beauty and historical importance with its Preservation Awards, the 32nd edition of which will be held March 19 aboard the Queen Mary.

Among the award-winning homes this year is a pair of fairly heroic projects that rescued some examples of early Long Beach from obscurity, if not outright destruction.

Perhaps most notable is the Joseph and Carrie Torrey House in Willmore City. The 1911 Craftsman was declared a public nuisance by the city in 2010. It had no kitchen, heating or plumbing and was boarded up, though inhabited by squatters.

The Joseph and Carrie Torrey House in Willmore City. Photo by Sterling Reed.

Slated for demolition in 2012, the Daisy Avenue home was rescued by Charles Nourrcier, who brought it back to life using local contractors, laborers and vendors to restore the remaining original elements. An indication of the project’s success is the fact that the home is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a poster child for preservationist work.

Another exhausting and extensive rehab project of a California Heights residence will be honored by Long Beach Heritage. Owners Kathy Costantino and Janice Watson put in nearly two decades to bring their 1931 Spanish Revival home on Falcon Avenue in California Heights back from a series of sorry alterations to bring the residence back to a prettier past.

The revitalized Spanish Revival home of Kathy Costantino and Janice Watson. Photo by Lucas Gordon.

They removed the lace stucco, aluminum sliders and 1970s brick, kept all the remaining features and installed era-appropriate fixtures and finishes and took the place back 90 years to its showroom condition.

Aside from the houses, other Preservation Award winners being honored at the ceremony include:

Preservationists of the year: Ana Maria and Kevin McGuan, longtime residents of the Villa Riviera. The couple helped the building secure a Mills Act contract, Ana served for several years on the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission and Kevin was appointed to the commission in 2018.

Historic District Guidelines: Long Beach’s Development Services Department launched an initiative to create guidelines to each of the city’s 18 historic districts. The guidelines explain the architectural styles that define each neighborhood and offer guidance on maintenance and alterations of residences.

Middough’s sign on the Insurance Exchange Building: The building’s homeowners association commissioned a restoration of the long-faded advertising sign for Middough’s Boys’ and Men’s Shop, the original occupants of the structure built in 1925.

Trademark Brewery transformed a former auto shop into a craft brewery and taproom in the Washington neighborhood. Photo by Lucas Gordon.

Trademark Brewing: A former auto shop in the Washington neighborhood was transformed into a craft brewery and taproom in a collaboration between owner/developer Millworks and its tenant Trademark Brewing. The building was adapted for its new use while keeping most of its original features, including woodwork, beams, metal trusses and doors.

Charles Phoenix: The hilarious and encyclopedic entertainer and frequent visitor to Long Beach will host the awards.

A no-host bar and silent auction begin at 5:30 p.m. and the dinner and presentations begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets start at $125, with all proceeds supporting Long Beach Heritage. For details and tickets, click here.

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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.
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