Let’s be totally honest for once. Sometimes—maybe most times—your sole reason to visit open houses is just to look around at what the sellers have done to their house while trading snipes with your mate, “This wallpaper would be nice—if we weren’t cursed with eyesight…” and “who puts shag carpet in the kitchen?”

And there’s the whole charade with the showing agent who reasonably mistakes you for a shopper and is trying to set the paperwork in motion by asking you how much you think you can get for your house and will this be a cash deal or at least can you put 20% down?

The no-strings-attached, guilt-free opportunity to view some spectacular homes is what makes Long Beach Heritage’s annual “Great Homes of Long Beach” tour so popular. A half-dozen owners of architecturally significant homes throw their residences open to the public, simply for viewing and admiring and maybe choking back a little jealousy, so don’t bring briefcases full of cash to the tour.

In addition to peeking into some exceedingly nice houses, the tour gives potential buyers a chance to visit some of Long Beach’s nicer neighborhoods, as well.

This is the 18th year for LBH’s tour, which goes from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 2.

The six homes selected this year include:

A Craftsman Bungalow in Bluff Heights designed by artisan builder Miner Smith, whose Craftsman homes are a cut above most of its cousins, with special artistic touches including the use of ornamental cement tree branches on the porch and fireplace and built-in buffets desks and cabinets. Smith called his creations “bungalow mansions” and experts say there are at least 23 of his homes in Long Beach. This house, lovingly restored by its current owner, was honored at the 2019 Long Beach Heritage Preservation Awards. It is pictured above.

A Prairie-style house in Bluff Park with views of Catalina Island from the second story. Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, who invented the Prairie Style around with a group of other young architects around 1900 in Chicago. This house was built in 1913, at around the peak Prairie’s popularity. The house features such Prairie ideals as strong horizontal geometry (even vertical downspouts are hidden or absent), flat roofline and rows of windows. This home features an outdoor garden room with a fireplace.

This 1913 home was built in the Prairie style developed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago around 1900. Photo by Ellen and Mark Halloran

A 1924 Belmont Heights home on an oversized lot, built in the Colonial Revival style, which was all the rage following the nation’s centennial celebration in 1876, which rekindled Americans’ love affair with their colonial past. This home was built on an oversized lot and features a guest house and a gray-bottomed pool with a waterfall.

This Colonial Revival house features a guest house and a gray-bottomed pool with a waterfall. Photo by Ellen and Mark Halloran.

The famous “20th Century House,” was designed by renowned Long Beach architect Hugh Davies in 1936. Davies designed, in addition to several residences in town, Long Beach Poly High School, Community Hospital and 1928’s Pacific Southwest Exposition in the Long Beach Harbor. It is a classic example of the International Modern architecture. It was honored with a Preservation Award in 2006.

The “20th Century House” was designed by noted Long Beach architect Hugh Davies. Photo by Ellen and Mark Halloran.

A ranch-style home tucked away in the Virginia Country Club neighborhood was built on an expansive, park-like lot with views of the golf course and room for a small horse and chickens. Its rustic setting and relative isolation gives it a feel of being far from town.

This ranch style house is tucked away in the Virginia Country Club neighborhood. Photo by Ellen and Mark Halloran.

A Cliff May mid-century modern was designed by the father of the California Ranch home. This 1953 home is a carefully restored and maintained example of the style, loaded with windows to let in plenty of light and built around a private courtyard with a pool and outdoor entertaining areas. Stroll around the neighborhood to see several more examples of Cliff May homes.

A 1950’s Cliff May home in East Long Beach will be featured in the Great Homes tour on June 2. Photo by Ellen and Mark Halloran.

Tickets for the self-driving tour are $40 through May 15 and $45 after. They’re available at the Long Beach Heritage website. Click here.

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.

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