When The Breakers Hotel opened on Long Beach’s Ocean Avenue in 1926, ocean bathers could exit out the back by way of a special elevator and walk right out across the sand. The building still stands, but the sea and sand is more than a short stroll away.
Construction of the new Breakers Hotel started in November 1925 for Breakers Hotel Co. headed by Long Beach capitalist Fred B. Dunn. Though it was anticipated to be ready in time for the 1926 summer season, the grand opening was delayed until September 18, 1926.
Architects Walker & Eisen’s design was described by a Los Angeles Times correspondent as “ultra Spanish.” The west wing, down below Ocean Ave., was 1-story initially with the intention of adding an additional 12 stories. The 330 guest rooms featured baths with hot and cold running sea water and piped in radio music broadcast from a receiving station in the tower.
For casual dining there was a cafeteria-coffee shop, decorated in modernistic jazz colors- red lacquer tables, jade green walls and drapes of jade green, black and gold. The 500-seat main dining salon, dubbed the Hall of Galleons, featured a mural depicting the Sea of Spain in the fourteenth century with dance music provided in the . High above Ocean Avenue was a romantic roof garden, made to resemble the promenade deck of an ocean liner, where guest could dine and dance from 8 to midnight. On the ground floor there was a beauty shop, barber shop, a Turkish bath and retail shops.
It was not to last, however. By June 1927 Dunn and general manager Edwin Lee were gone, the Breakers sold to unnamed capitalists for well below its reported $3 million dollar construction cost. The new owners had elaborate plans for improvements but it’s likely that they remained as much a pipe dream as the 12-story west wing addition. Though it escaped major damage in the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, the hotel business was affected by the area’s subsequent decline in tourism, and in 1938 The Breakers was sold again, becoming part of the Hilton chain. Today it is a retirement home.
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