A Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Huntington Beach – Part One

First, while I did some walking and took some pictures, I did NONE of the research. I simply followed the pamphlet, A Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Huntington Beach, provided by the Huntington Beach Historic Resource Board. You can pick up a copy at the information kiosk at Pier Plaza, or you can download a copy, here.

I must admit that I didn’t go in the order listed in the pamphlet. When I walk downtown, I usually arrive at Triangle Park, which is #19/20, on the map. It makes no difference. The tour is not in chronological order, so you can start at any point.

I grew up in a small town, in Western Pennsylvania. Over the past decade, or two, many of the old buildings feel into disrepair, and some have been demolished. A few were saved by repurposing them. One primary school became offices. One became apartments. One was demolished, but a monument, consisting of an old school bell, sits in a small park on the site. My old high school has transitioned from high school to junior high, to elementary school, but is now in danger of loosing it’s life because of the high cost of repairs and maintenance. The National Guard Armory, which sent men of of community of to two world wars, and served as an indoor basketball court for youth and men’s recreation leagues is now a small park.

Repurposing can be very good. Converting to a park is an option — but once the buildings are gone, they are gone forever.

Last August, I spend a few days, walking the streets of my childhood, taking pictures of what is still there: My boyhood home, schools and churches, and a few commercial buildings. You can see some of them, here.

Back to my current hometown, Huntington Beach. It took a lot of effort by a lot of people to save the Main Street Library and Triangle park, but here it is.

Huntington Beach Main Street Library and Triangle Park

Main Street Library and Triangle Park

Huntington Beach Main Street Library and Triangle Park

Main Street Library and Triangle Park

Huntington Beach Main Street Library and Triangle Park

Main Street Library and Triangle Park

From Triangle Park, I walked along 6th Street, toward the ocean. That’s the Pacific Ocean, if you are just learning about HB. 🙂 415 6th Street is a beach cottage dating back to 1917, but was moved to this location in the 1930s. many HB cottages were moved because of the booming oil industry of the period.

A few steps along and we come to one of the oldest churches in Huntington Beach. Originally the First Baptist Church, it is now the Community Bible Church, as was built in 1906. The two buildings are stops #21 and #22, respectively.

415 6th Street Huntington Beach

415 6th Street

Community Bible Church

Community Bible Church

Across the street from the church, on the corner of 6th Street and Orange Avenue, is the Beach Court (#23). These apartments were built in 1923 and include a secret cellar used during Prohibition.

Beach Courts

Beach Courts

From 6th and Orange, I walked to 5th Street, continuing along 5th, toward the ocean. At 317 5th Street, there is a Craftsman style bungalow (1910), with a basement — Unlike Western Pennsylvania, I’ve seen very few Southern California homes with basements. At 311 5th, is the 1931 Zigzag Moderne style building that is one of my favorites. They are stops #24, in the pamphlet.

317 5th Street

317 5th Street

Zigzag Moderne

311 5th Street

#25 is Pristine Motor Sports on the corner of Olive and 5th. It was a service station, in the 1920s.

Pristine Motor Sports

Pristine Motor Sports

At stop #26 (210-220 5ht Street, is the former city hall, fire department, and jail. It was built about 1908, but the facade was redone in the 1930s. In the rear is the original jail — a little red stand-alone building, #28 on the map.

Old City Hall and Fire Department

Old City Hall and Fire Department

Original City Jail

Original City Jail

The large brown house on the corner of 5th and Walnut (#27) is a police substation. Originally on 20th Street, it was moved here about 1926 (originally constructed in 1913). It was built for Dr. George Shank. On the side is one of my favorite signs, in downtown. It purports to reserve a spot for police vehicles, only. I have never seen anything but bicycles parker anywhere near here. I think the city has a few horses, and even some cars. 🙂

Shank House/Police Substation

Shank House/Police Substation

Shank House/Police Substation

Police Vehicles Only

From the police substation, I walked up the alley, between 5th and Main. See the jail cell photo, above (#28). At the end of the alley, on the corner with Olive, is the Surf Museum (#29). Built in 1935, it was the office of Dr. Hawes and served emergency patients, since there was no hospital.

International Surfing Museum

International Surfing Museum

From the Surf Museum, head toward Starbucks — I mean the Post Office (#30), across from Starbucks and IHOP. Built in 1935, it has some great old photos, from the era, in the lobby.

 Post Office

Post Office

Heading down Main Street, I’ll make another coffee shop reference. If you go up the stairs, in the passageway by the fountain (Christmas Tree), to the balcony above the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, you will get a great view of Main Street, including the Longboard Restaurant, and the Sugar Shack (#31). Built about 1904, as a feed and fuel store, Huntington Beach’s first gas pump was located at the former. Built in 1918, the Sugar Shack housed several businesses before becoming a restaurant, in 1967.

Longboard Restaurant & Pub

Longboard Restaurant & Pub

The Sugar Shack

The Sugar Shack

At stop #32, on the corner of Main and Walnut, is the old Standard Market. This was an open-sided market, dating from 1928, now part of HSS Clothing. Somehow, I didn’t take a picture of it, but there is a plaque on the building. It is directly across Main Street from Beach Island (127 main), which, in 1938, was HB Cut Rate Drugs.

Beach Island

Beach Island

At #34 is Perqs Nite Club. Built in 1905, it was the Pacific City (one of Huntington Beach’s former names) School. Subsequently, it became a real estate office, the Palace Pool Hall (downstairs), and The Palace Hotel (upstairs). Rumor has it that the hotel also served as a brothel. After 1952, the building housed a photography studio, first Brennemon and then Hall’s.

Perqs Nite Club

Perqs Nite Club

Today’s Pierside Pavillion (#35) is the location of the Golden Bear. Beginning 1929, and particularly through the 60s and 70s, it served as an entertainment venue for such stars and Janis Joplin, a barefoot Linda Ronstadt, Jerry Garcia, and other stars. It was demolished in 1986.

Pierside Pavillion.

Pierside Pavillion.

Numbers 1, 2, and 3 are the pier, with the information kiosk and Duke’s. The pier was built in 1904 as a wooden structure, rather than today’s concrete construction. Damaged and repaired, after storms in 1911, 1938, 1983, qnd 1988, it is now one of the longest municipal piers in the US.

Duke’s stand on the site of a dance pavilion, built as a WPA project in 1938.

Man with Bike on Pier

Man with Bike on Pier

Across the street (Pacific Coast Highway) from the pier, and just a bit north, is El Don Liquor. Alone with the sandwich shop next door, and the eight apartments above it, it is the only original building in what was once the offices of the Huntington Beach Company, the Ocean Wave Hotel, the Crescent Theater. Buildings were built from 1905 on and, today, house Jack’s Surf Shop, as well as El Don.

El Don

El Don

I generally keep articles under 1,000 so people might read them :). I’m now nearly at 1,200, but in fact, at this point, I heard my name being called by a blended coffee drink at the CBTL. I succumbed. The rest of the tour will continue in a day or two, covering the spots on the map, along Pecan Avenue and 8th Street.

Again, none of the research is original to me. I am using the pamphlet supplied by the Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board. Another great resource is the Historic Huntington Beach Blog, published by Mary Adams Urashima.

All photos taken with an Olympus OMD-EM5, M. Zuiko 12-40mm/f2.8 lens, on December 6, 2015, and post processed in Lightroom CC. Yes, many are well saturated — that’s because I like them that way, and no one is paying me to do it their way. 🙂 The “Man with Bike on Pier” was captured with an iPhone about two years ago..

Part 2 will be published in a few days.

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