Santa Monica Architecture and History


Santa Monica--Buildings sprang up rapidly as the City of Santa Monica was founded in 1875. By the 1970's, a wave of rebuilding hit and threatened prominent landmarks. Proposals to demolish the Santa Monica Pier concerned enough residents that something was done to protect disappearing resources. A Historical Site Committee was created and in 1976, Landmarks and Historic Districts Ordinance was created. A salute to this effort and all who have helped to protect this rich history for future generations is in order. Visitors often complain that everything looks the same with miles of earth-tone stucco and red-tile roofs stretching to the horizon. Not so in downtown Santa Monica. 


Gussie Moran House, 1323 Ocean Ave., Built between 1887 and 1891.  Consistent with the Queen Anne style popular during the late 19th century, this home is constructed of wood, displaying a porch wrapping around the southwest corner, and a prominent corner tower.   The detailing pattern on the gable uses both plain and fishscale shingles, with shiplap siding covering the remainder of the building's exterior.



It was formerly the home of internationally known tennis player, Gussie Moran, who ranked among the top ten female players during the late 1940's. This house is the last remnant of Ocean Avenue Prior to 1900, when the street was the center of Victorian Santa Monica.

A short distance from filming studios, Santa Monica has been home to the rich and famous which include Shirley Temple. Additional information on movie star houses and filming of productions such as Bay Watch with the popular, red swim suit babes can be obtained at the visitor's bureau. Here is a partial list of historic and interesting buildings

The Rapp Saloon/Old Town Hall
1438 2nd St.  Built: 1875
Built the year the city was founded, the masonry structure was billed as "Los Angeles Beer Garden with fresh-tapped Los Angeles beer always on hand."
North Guest House 415 Palisades Beach Road, 1929
John Byers Office, 246 26th St., 1926
Miles Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., 1929
Santa Monica Municipal Pier, Colorado Blvd., 1909
Horatio West Coutr, 140 Hollister Ave., 1919
Parkhurst Building, 185 Pier Ave.&Main, 1927
First Methodist Episcopal Church, 2621 2nd St., 1875
First Roy Jones House, 2620 Main St., 1894
John & Anna George House, 2424 Fourth St., 1910
City Hall, 1685 Main St., 1938
Rotating Beacon Tower at Santa Monica Airport, 1928
Henry Wever House, 142 Adelaide Dr., 1910
Moses Hostetter House, 2601 Second St., 1893
Georgian Hotel with Art Deco style overlooks the pier.



A "must-have" book offered free from the City of Santa Monica Planning Division and available to the visitor bureau provides an introduction to the history of the city and artist's sketches of 18 historic landmarks, along with addresses and information about each building.  There are many interesting buildings you'll see which aren't even listed in this little guide. But ask for the 12-page booklet and you'll have better footing when you head out on your magical, history tour.