In the past year, Historic Huntington Beach has featured a few of the stops on the downtown walking tour, along with other tidbits of local history to make your stroll around town. We haven't always gone in chronological order, because we tend to wander off (we recommend you wander off the beaten trail, also). We'll get to spots we missed in 2013! Here's where we've stopped along the way in 2012.
Visitors Information Kiosk
Stop here first (at the foot of our pier along Pacific Coast Highway) to pick up the printed walking tour brochure. The brochure offers a map and just enough historical information to make you want to learn more!
The Huntington Beach pier and bandstand, circa 1914. It didn't take long to figure out everyone likes a long walk on a longer pier. (Photo, Library of Congress)
The Huntington Beach Pier
The pier has been a fixture on our coast for well over one hundred years. Each time the Pacific knocked it down, we rebuilt. Take a look at a century of pier-story at http://www.historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/05/huntington-beach-near-pier-and.html
We've also included some history about the early attempts at pier wave motors and the "Man Angel," the oddest flying machine you've ever seen, "Masters of the Ocean Waves," http://historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/05/masters-of-ocean-waves.html
The Pavalon (this photo circa 1946) is no longer. It was the place to take your date, jump into the saltwater plunge, and dance like nobody's business.
The Pavalon Ballroom
We included one of the old photographs and a little information about the famous Pavalon in Smoked Fish and the Surfer Stomp, http://www.historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/05/smoked-fish-and-surfer-stomp.html More to come in 2013!
Helme-Worthy House and M.E. Helme House Furnishing Co.
A treasure for many reasons, this National Historic Register site is the legacy of one of Huntington Beach's first families and remains in their ownership. The 1904 M.E. Helme House Furnishing Co. is adjacent to the 1880s Helme-Worthy House which was moved to the property by mule team in 1903. Browse the antiques, soak up the history and watch the progress of a historic site undergoing painstakingly careful restoration. Read more at http://www.historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/08/historic-walking-tour-6-me-helme-house.html
Main Street Library and Triangle Park
Little Triangle Park once played a role in the early 1900s development of Huntington Beach, providing tent housing for newcomers. "Cardboard Alley" later became part of the new City's civic center, home to a Horseshoe Club, a Red Cross outpost during World War II, and home to many community groups before it became the City's main library in the 1950s. Read more at http://www.historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/08/historic-walking-tour-12-and-13-main.html and http://www.historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/12/saving-history-main-street-library-and.html
Oil Field Beach Cottage
A significant part of the quality of life of residential districts in Huntington Beach's historic downtown is the collection of eclectic beach cottages and bungalows on Main Street and the surrounding streets. Many of them have a story to tell. Read more and view some of our other classic bungalows and cottages at http://www.historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/08/historic-walking-tour-14-beach-cottages.html
The Beach Court
The Beach Court was built in 1923 during the early days of the motion picture era, the same year the famous Hollywoodland (now Hollywood) sign was installed in the hills above Los Angeles. It was an escape for a few celebrities from Los Angeles, including silent film star Rudolph Valentino! Read more at http://historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/09/walking-tour-16-beach-court-and.html
The Shank House This 1913 class Craftsman-style bungalow was the home to Dr. George A. Shank, of one of Huntington Beach's first doctors, first City health officer, and member of the City Board of Trustees (predecessor to the city council). A few steps away is the original city hall and jail that Dr. Shank helped finance. Today, Dr. Shank's home is a police substation in the historic downtown. Read more at http://historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/05/historic-walking-tour-19-shank-house.html
1908 City Hall and Jail
The original city hall and jail on 5th Street--built in 1908, one year before Huntington Beach incorporated--is now home to HB Top Nails. What sent you to jail in early 1900s Huntington Beach? In addition to the usual (horse thievery, murder, allowing your chickens to run wild), it was alcohol (unless you were a licensed pharmacist) and gambling that landed you in the little big house. Read more at http://www.historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/04/historic-walking-tour-huntington-beachs.html
Main Street Post Office
Seventy-five years after the Pony Express and twenty-eight years before the introduction of the zip code, Huntington Beach opened the doors to the Main Street Post Office in 1935. It was a big deal. Specifically, an aspect of the New Deal. Our Depression-era post office still delivers in the historic downtown. Read more at http://www.historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/10/walking-tour-22-wpa-main-street-post.html
The Golden Bear
Ask a Huntington Beach local about the Golden Bear and watch them get all misty eyed. They'll tell you stories about the musicians and comedians, about grabbing a beer and having the night of their life, and then stepping outside to ocean air and crashing waves. It was a soulful little place that put us on the map. Read more at http://historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/05/historic-walking-tour-27-golden-bear.html
Off the beaten path...
Among the stops we've included in 2012 are a few off the beaten path, but rich with local history. Here's a few of the favorites:
Brewster's Ice: Since 1945
Update: Brewster's Ice is currently being remodeled, although some historic features remain. As of January 2018, we await the "new" ice house.
Before refrigerators were in every home, there was the "ice man." At the corner of Lake and 6th Streets, Brewster's Ice has been a family-run business for 67 years. They still sell block ice, dry ice, special orders for events, and they deliver in Huntington Beach...just like the "olden days." Read more at http://historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/09/brewsters-ice-since-1945.html
The Gordie House
UPDATE: Gordie Higgins surf shack was remodeled and no longer looks like this, although the structure is still there.
Who is Gordie and why does the tiny building behind 505 Lake Street bear his name? If you're a surfer, you might already know. Gordie Higgins was one of Huntington Beach's first surfboard shapers at a time when boards were actually, well, boards. Read more at http://historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-gordie-house.html
Fire Pits and Beach Camping
Visitors to Huntington Beach always comment on the pit fires dotting the beach at night. It's routine for locals to celebrate birthdays, reunions or ordinary get-togethers with a circle of friends at a beach fire. It's also a long tradition, dating back a hundred years to when beach living was a necessity. Read more at http://historichuntingtonbeach.blogspot.com/2012/05/sea-breeze-auto-camp-circa-1935.html
We're now 104-years-old and, well, we're a bit of a character. Stick with us in 2013....we've got a few more stories to tell as we walk though Historic Huntington Beach.
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