World’s Fairs, once internationally popular and prestigious celebrations of culture and industry, have spawned thousands of products, food trends and other innovations that have endured through the decades. In architecture, the expositions created new movements that have had lasting effects, too, from towering buildings like the Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition in London’s Hyde Park in 1851 and the Brutalist building-block housing complexes featured in Habitat 67 from the Montreal World’s Fair in 1967.
Of particular significance was the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industries) of 1925, which gave rise to the Style Moderne, or what’s become to be known as Art Deco, a style that became popular in Long Beach when the city was rebuilding its schools, hotels, homes and other structures following the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake.
Prior to that movement, and also having a profound effect on Long Beach architecture in the 1920s and 1930s, was the Panama-California Exposition held in 1915 in San Diego’s Balboa Park to coincide with the opening of the Panama Canal.
The architectural style of the expo was decidedly Spanish or Mexican, displayed in a particularly ornate manner in the Casa de Balboa, constructed for the fair in Spanish Renaissance style.
A simpler style, tailored more for smaller residences that emerged from the San Diego exposition, was the Spanish Colonial Revival style, which local architects embraced enthusiastically in the ‘20s and ‘30s in Long Beach, particularly in Los Cerritos, California Heights, Belmont Shore and Belmont Heights neighborhoods.
These homes, characterized by earth-tone exteriors, terra cotta roof tiles, arched entries and trimmings of deep brown, can be found in almost every neighborhood that’s been around for 90 to 100 years. Here are a few recent listings.
This 1926 home on an oversize lot in Belmont Shore is an eye-catcher with its towering turret that lets light into the dramatic charcoal-painted entryway.
Listed at $1.679 million by Susan Boyle, the three-bedroom, two bath 1,699-square-foot home features beautiful painting throughout, a formal dining room, a living room with a tall barrelled ceiling, a thoroughly modern kitchen and a covered backyard veranda surrounded by lush foliage.
Double glass doors greet you as you enter the living room of this 1925 Spanish bungalow in Belmont Shore. Listed by Dick Gaylord at $1.35 million, the two-bedroom, two-bath home features arched entries throughout as well as hardwood floors and a fireplace in the living room. The sparkling royal blue and white kitchen has top appliances and partying and conversation takes place in the front yard patio with Spanish tile work.
Listed at $1.3 million by Gregory Doud, this 1926 Bluff Heights home has three bedrooms and two baths. The living room has hardwood floors and a Craftsman-style fireplace. There is a one-car garage at the end of a long driveway that is currently serving as an office, but there is semi-protected parking in the home’s porte-cochère—or, in less lofty English, carport. A highlight of the home is a large covered front patio.
Located in the California Heights Historic District, this 1924 Spanish bungalow retains many of its original built-in shelving and cabinetry. The three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath home is on a large lot giving it a spacious backyard with mature orange trees. Listed by Alan Fasnacht at $965,000, it has several upgrades including copper plumbing and a jazzed-up electrical system.