Saturday, April 14, 2012

Arthur M. Goodhue--534 Chestnut Ave. Long Beach

Arthur Goodhue (b. 1871) was a California boy born in Sacramento, last of five children.  His father Oliver was a lumber dealer there, which would figure prominently for Arthur. By 1893 he had moved to Long Beach, and by 1899 was the owner of the San Pedro Lumber Company in that city, which he ran until disappearing from the Long Beach directories in 1925.

He married the former Lilian Everson (b. 1876) of Oakland in 1896, and in 1899 joined with other hunters to form the Greenwing Gun Club outside the then city limits of Long Beach. Around the same time he also helped in the creation of the first municipal golf links in the state, and later went on to be a member of the Virginia Country Club. In that same year of 1899, Lilian as a member of the Ebell Club of Long Beach, wrote an extended article for their monthly magazine on Sevres porcelain.

In 1904 they moved into their new home at 534 Chestnut Avenue, and had this photograph taken:

The Goodhue Residence in 1908

In 1905 Goodhue and partners founded the State Bank of Long Beach, which may have positioned him for the next really big deal in Long Beach, a new hotel.  In October of 1905, the Long Beach Hotel Co. was created. Directors of the company included Goodhue, two members of the Bixby family, and J. Ross Clark. Construction began the following January.

By summer a name had been determined for the new building--Hotel Bixby, and work continued on the $750,000 project until November 9th. That day a wooden form for one of the building's concrete columns was removed too early, which allowed the column to fail, bringing down masses of concrete to the street and basement, where 50 workers were toiling. Final death toll was eleven--the contractor was eventually held liable, and owners pledged to immediately return to building the hotel. But history tells us there never was a Hotel Bixby. Like most tragedies of the sort, names are changed so people will not link disasters to place names. The new name?  Hotel Virginia.

The hotel opened in April, 1908 and by October the Goodhues had sold
Arthur in 1910
their home and moved in to the Virginia, where they stayed through 1911, after which they moved to a house at 2204 E. 1st Street. The State Bank disappeared, other investments disappeared, but the San Pedro Lumber Co. remained under the management of A. M. Goodhue until the early 1920's. After that, no record is easily found for the pair.  They had no children. It appears that Lillian moved north to Berkeley, passing away near there in 1952.  Perhaps Arthur died in the mid-1920's. Interestingly they had the above house published as theirs, but had sold it before the book was finished.

The Hotel Virginia also disappeared from maps, as it suffered damage in the 1933 Long Beach earthquake and was subsequently demolished.

The Goodhues sold their Chestnut Avenue home to Dr. William H. Austin, an early well-known physician in Long Beach. Moving in with him was his wife Mary and son William Horace, a local architect.  Dr. Austin passed away in 1910 and Horace continued to live on in the house, marrying Marjorie, and having a son (named William!). Horace subsequently became very well-known for his Long Beach edifice designs, which included Pacific Tower, the Santa Ana Masonic Lodge, and the Press-Telegram building in downtown Long Beach.

Horace passed away in 1942 and his family stayed at the Chestnut Ave. house, which still is there.  Today the neighborhood is loaded with apartment buildings, but check out the front walk stairs from these recent photos. Maybe a piece of the past?

534 Chestnut Ave, April 2016
(courtesy of the author)

534 Chestnut Ave, Front Steps, April 2016
(courtesy of the author)
An interesting tale...

Additional Info:
The L.A. Herald Front Page 10 Nov 1906


  1. With respect to the Virginia Hotel, you state it was damaged in the 1931 earthquake and demolished. That is incorrect. It actually caught fire a few years after it was built, and since the fire dept in those days were comprised of volunteers, it was not reached soon enough, causing severe damage, and the luxury hotel could not be saved. It was located on the southwest corner of Ocean Blvd and Magnolia Ave.

    Regarding the home at 534 Chestnut, I live a few blocks from it, and yes, it is quite beautiful. I have often walked through the yard, and it has many original features such as lovely brick walls, original doors and windows, and lush gardens. In the back of the property, at the alley, is a two story brick structure that may have been a carriage house. Currently it is used as a residence. It has always been a dream of mine to own this home.

    Jim Comoe

  2. Re: The Virginia Hotel, in my comment above, I meant to say the 1933 earthquake, not 1931. One other thing I want to mention is the name Virginia Hotel, comes from a family member of the Bixby family. This is also where the neighborhood of Virginia Country Club gets its name from as well. Not sure who Virginia was. Possibly Jotham Bixby's wife. Jim Comoe

  3. The Hotel Virginia was named by Charles Drake who came from Virginia and who started the Pike. The country club was first at what is known as Recreation Park and then moved to Los Cerritos.
    Hotel Virginia did not burn down...that was the Long Beach Hotel that was rebuilt to the Bixby Hotel which also had problems and renamed as Hotel Virginia. It fell into disrepair and was taken down.

  4. Thank you for the clarification.


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