October 28th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1929, the new Seal Beach city hall was officially opened and dedicated at 8th Street and Central Avenue in a gala ceremony.

A rendering of Horace W. Austin’s winning design for Seal Beach’s new city hall.

After a narrowly defeated bond election in 1928 and a second successful bond of $50,000 at the end of January 1929, the City of Seal Beach managed to pick an architect, choose a building site, and construct the new fireproof city hall building in nine short months (with delays that pushed the expected September 1st opening and celebration to October 29.)

The dedication program included:

  • The Dick Rogers orchestra (probably the Llewellyn Orchestra)
  • Opening prayer and blessing by Reverend D. W. Wilt
  • Presentation of Building by Horace W. Austin
  • Receipt of building by Mayor R. E. Dolly
  • Flag presentation and salute of the U.S. Flag by the Junior Police, directed by Chief of Police Andy Johnson
  • Song by the grammar school glee club
  • Introduction of distinguished guests
  • Baritone solo by Jimmie McGarrigle

Guests were escorted through the building by the junior police, and refreshments were served by the Woman’s Club of Seal Beach.

Fresh and brand new in 1929

From the main entrance on 8th Street a long hallway stretched to the back of the building. On the left, the clerical offices for the city clerk, recorder, engineer, auditor and courtroom.

Beyond the clerical offices (but still on the left), stood the police department’s rooms, including a private office for the chief of police, the squad room, and a examining room for prisoners. 

At the rear, the fire department took up the first floor with sleeping quarters for the firemen above on the second floor. The first floor housed the city’s firefighting equipment, including a brand new American LaFrance 500-gallon pump truck and the old chemical firetruck and a wide door opened out on to Central Avenue for speedy exits to emergencies.

A more modern view of the fire department section of the 1929 city hall with vintage fire engines.

To the right of the entrance, the library was equipped with ample shelf space and two reading rooms, one for the adults and one for children. Just beyond that was the jail with three double cell and one single for men and four cells for women.

The floors of the offices were hardwood, and the jail and fire department had concrete floors.  Brand new furniture for the city treasurer’s office, the water and street department, and the police department had been  provided under a contract awarded to the Pacific Desk Company in Long Beach on October 24th, and city library had already moved to the new building on October 18th.

The second floor, except for the sleeping quarters at the rear for the fire department, was used as a city auditorium and a city council meeting room. This also had a hardwood floor that would serve well for dances and banquets. A portrait of President Hoover hung at the end of the auditorium.

At the rear of the building, there was a six-car garage for municipal use and confiscated cars.

The reception committee members for the dedication were C. O Wheat (commitee chair), Father Raley,  Mrs. William Taylor (PTA President), Mrs. E. W. Reed (Woman’s Club President), and Reverend D. W. Wilt and W. D. Miller.

The other significant historical event on October 29th, 1929, was Black Tuesday, the culmination of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and the beginning of the 12-year worldwide Great Depression. (Who says it’s impossible to sum up extremely complicated historical events in a few broad brushstrokes of simple description?)

Great Depression aside, the new city hall was a smashing success for this era of Seal Beach history. The building lasted as a functional city hall for forty years before being expanded in 1969 (the library had moved across the street in 1962) and is still functioning today, housing SBTV, the Miss Seal Beach office, and the Chamber of Commerce.

A Google Street View of the 1929 city hall building in March 2016

All in all, a vast improvement over renting space in the Labourdette Building on Main Street.

The original City Hall rented space in the Labourdette building in Seal Beach

– Michael Dobkins

(Special thanks to Robin Forte-Lincke of SBTV for sharing some of the background and images in this post.)

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2 Responses to October 28th in Seal Beach History

  1. Pingback: November 10th in Seal Beach History | This Date in Seal Beach History

  2. Pingback: December 13th in Seal Beach History | This Date in Seal Beach History

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