Long Beach’s Villa Riviera Features French Chateau Gothic Architecture, Star-Studded Past • Long Beach Post

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Photos by Adrian Liwanag. 

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Ever imagine you could live in an iconic, historically significant building that’s steps from the sand? The Villa Riviera, with its French Chateau Gothic architecture and star-studded past, currently has units available for those seeking a glamorous and unique living space right on the Southern California coast.

The Villa Riviera has a rich history in Long Beach. Groundbreaking began in late 1927, and the official opening occurred in April of 1929. The building was not originally planned as a hotel; rather, it was built as residential Stock Co-operative apartments. It became a residential hotel after the Great Depression, when a finance company took it back and sold it to a hotel concern. It was then reborn as The Villa Riviera Apartment Hotel.

In 1938, Joseph M. Schenck of Twentieth Century Fox bought the hotel for his ex-wife Norma Talmadge—a silent screen star—to manage. In those days one could catch a glimpse of famous Hollywood faces at The Villa Riviera: Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor and Fatty Arbuckle, to name a few. Whispered-about escapades by Hollywood eccentrics added to the hotel’s mystique and glamour.

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Over the next 20 years, the Villa went through several different hotel owners. In the mid-1950s, the units were again sold off as Own-Your-Own residential apartments (a legal ownership that predated the creation of condominiums). The association was converted to Condominium titles in 1991.

The building has become one of the most famous—and unrivaled—sites in Long Beach as well as the Greater Los Angeles area. It is renowned for its classic patina copper roof, the grand French Chateau Gothic architecture, and the 16 gargoyles that surround the building’s perimeter, presumably to ward off evil. After more than 80 years, the Villa Riviera remains a beacon of the West.

In 1996, the Villa Riviera earned its rightful place on the National Register of Historic Places, guaranteeing its place as one of the most important landmarks in California.

Units are currently available. with prices ranging from $275,000 to just over $1,000,000. For a tour of available homes, or more information on the fascinating journey of the Villa Riviera, contact Susan Boyle of Doma Properties at [email protected]. 

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