September 19th in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1914, this oddly laid-out advertisement ran in the now defunct Los Angeles Evening Express. The same ad was published the next day in the Los Angeles Times.

The “Seal Beach” name had been launched to replace the more generic “Bay City” in July 1913, and this ad was part of a real estate promotional push that culminated in Seal Beach citizens voting to incorporate as a city in October 1915. It provides a snapshot of how Seal Beach was being pitched to the real estate buying public after two summers and fourteen months under the new name.

Nature has done much for Seal Beach for the western portion of the city lies on a high bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean just like the Palisades at Santa Monica, and like the Palisades at Santa Monica, it has a rich sandy loam soil which makes it especially desirable for homes of the better class, and besides, this section of the city has great natural advantages over the Palisades at Santa Monica because it overlooks, in addition to the blue waters of the Pacific, the beautiful Alamitos Bay, whose waters wind in and out among the beautiful environs of Naples.

The eastern part of Seal Beach slopes gently down to the waters of the ocean on the south and the delightful waters of Anaheim Bay on the east, and by many this is considered the most desirable section for investment as it is close to the bath house, dancing pavilion and main business portion of the city, and also is the part where most improvements and new buildings are going up. Great changes have taken place in this portion of the city since the Guy M. Rush Company, who are the sole agents for Seal Beach became interested in the city. The sand dunes have been graded off and the sand used to fill in a section where it was not quite so high. Miles of graded streets have been put in, while excellent cement sidewalks and curbs are in evidence on both sides of these streets.

This is also the section where most all of the improvements have been made during the past year, houses and buildings of different kinds having gone up on all sides, some of the homes being mansions equal to those found in Los Angeles and other larger and older cities. The opportunities for investment now at Seal Beach are better than ever before because it has grown by leaps and bounds during the last few months and has passed the stage where it is a question whether it is going to become a home city and resort or not. There is a magnificent large bath house and pavilion which will compare favorably with any other such structure on the Pacific coast: it contains hundreds of dressing rooms for the accommodation of bathers and also a large plunge which is the delight of both young and old. Another section of the gigantic building is given over for billiards and beautiful bowling alleys which are enjoyed by the ladies as well as the men. So says the South Coast Facts in directing attention to this advertisement.

South Coast Facts was a 1914 promotional periodical published by Orange County booster, F. E. Scott, to promote forty miles of Orange County coastline locations, so citing it as an impartial authority on Seal Beach is a bit of a stretch.

My favorite part of the ad is the column-wide hand pointing downward with the command to “Watch the Finger of Destiny.” The Finger of Destiny points to a photo taken on Ocean Avenue at First Street featuring the Owl’s Nest, the home of Bay City and Seal Beach founding father Philip Stanton at the far left. The Owl’s Nest is now gone, but the Lothian House shown in the background still stands at Second Street and Ocean Avenue.

These two houses provided a visual hook for the ad’s copy:

This street faces the Pacific ocean. Where is it?

It is four miles east of Long Beach.
It is 44 minutes from 6th and Main streets, Los Angeles.
It is right in front of the place where the undertow is left out of the ocean.

It is at Seal Beach, the Venice of the south coast.

Certain to be the largest city in Orange county.
There are more houses like this.
There are miles of boulevards; miles of streets; miles of gas and water mains and electric light wires.
There is a $100,000 twin pavilion and pier.
There is a present and a future.
Seal Beach is guaranteed by the growth of Los Angeles and the scarcity of Beach property.

Take a Look Sunday. Come From Missouri.

Get a part of the profits
Lots $500 to $4000. 10 per cent down. Balance to suit you.

And that was how they tried to sell real estate in Seal Beach back in 1914.

– Michael Dobkins

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4 Responses to September 19th in Seal Beach History

  1. Lonnie Brownell says:

    Come from Missouri! Um…what?

    My family came from Nebraska, with some brief stops in Long Beach and Paramount, but we finally made it, just two doors down the street from the Lothian house on 2nd street (and eventually up on Catalina Avenue on The Hill). Can’t imagine a better place to grow up. Or grow old, but I’m doing that elsewhere.


  2. Michael Dobkins says:

    I think the “Come from Missouri” copy is an awkward reference to Show Me State’s reputation for skepticism. “Don’t take our word for it. Come to Seal Beach and take a look for yourself to see how wonderful it is.”


  3. Scott Weir says:

    Thank you, Michael. Great historic information.
    I am leading a Seal Beach Lions service project to restore the Centennial House, mainly with a inside ceiling that had completely deteriorated.
    I look forward to a day soon that we can open up for the public to get a glance of historical living in the early 1900 Seal Beach.
    I would love the City to establish some of the Old City Hall to a SB History Museum.
    Lastly, the Red Car Museum is in bad repair. Who leads the historic society today. I heard the Antos’s do not live here in Seal.
    Would like to be part of any of those efforts.
    My time in Seal Beach started only in 1958, but have seen many changes. Some good, some not so much.
    On the wonderful historic picture, the Lothian Home looks to be getting some much needed TLC lately.

    Best Regards, Scott Weir

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lonnie Brownell says:

      Hey Scott, you’re Jim Weir’s brother, right? JIm and I were in the same grade through school, and, assuming you are that Scott, I remember you as well. I used to attempt to play basketball when Mr. Weaver would open up the gym at McGaugh; Jim was there a bunch, pretty sure you were too.

      Glad to hear you’re still there, and doing good stuff to keep Seal’s historic past alive.


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