Mar 11, 2017 - Mar 11, 2017
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Historical Downtown Walking Tour

This Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Huntington Beach was written by the Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board and printed in partnership with Visit Huntington Beach.

Download the original Historical Downtown Walking Tour as a pdf or use the text below to begin your walking tour.  For a map of the tour, please use the pdf version.

  1. Begin at the Visitor Information Kiosk at the foot of the Huntington Beach Pier.
  2. Huntington Beach Pier. The Huntington Beach Pier has had a tumultuous history, from its beginnings in 1904 as an un-creosoted rough pine construction to the one seen today that was dedicated in 1992 and is among the longest concrete municipal piers in the U.S.  In the past Pacific storms damaged the pier and buildings on it four times: in 1911, 1938, 1983 and 1988.  In the early 1900s, the Pacific Electric (PE) Railway building near the pier was a stop for PE's Red Cars.  Railroad mogul Henry Huntington ensured the cars ran through Huntington Beach to Los Angeles.  In 1910, a Saltwater "Plunge" and bath house were constructed at the current site of Pier Plaza.  The first trailer campground in the nation was located to the south of the pier.
  3. Pier Plaza. In 1938 through a WPA program, a dance ballroom, the Pavillion, was built next to the pier where Duke's Restaurant now stands.  After World War II the name was changed to the Pav-A-Lon Ballroom to hook into the popularity of the Avalon Ballroom on Catalina Island, which is visible on clear days.  In the 1950s it became a skating rink, but a fire destroyed it in 1966.  Ever since, there have been different restaurants on the site.
  4. 400 Pacific Coast Highway. In 1905 the Huntington Beach Company had offices in this block.  Headed by Henry Huntington, the company was responsible for much of the early development of the city.  By 1910, this block also contained the Ocean Wave Hotel, with the Crescent Theater located below the hotel and the 1918 O'Barr Building where Jack's surf shop was founded in 1957.  The only original building, circa 1905, houses the El Don Liquor Store and Papa Joe's Pizza.  Eight original apartments on the second floor are still rented out. 
  5. The Strand at 5th Street. On 5th Street the entrance to the SHorebreak Hotel was once the site of the legendary Surf Theater.  Built in 1925, it was originally called Scott's Theater, with the first movie shown titled "5th Avenue Models."  In 1937 it became the Roxy and then the Surf Theater in 1941.  In 1963 the surfing documentary "Endless Summer" was shown here.  It was demolished in 1989.
  6. M.E. Helme Antique StoreThe M.E. Helme House furnishing Co. building, built in 1904, is an example of an early 20th Century Western False Front wood commercial building.  It is the only pre-1910 commercial building in HB that hasn't been altered.  The great granddaughter of Matthew Helme and her husband run the current antique store and live in the Helme/Worthy house.  Look down at the rings for hitching the horses.
  7. Helme/Worthy House. At 128 6th Street is the Helme/Worthy House, an example of Eastlake Cottage Architecture, that was built in 1901 in Santa Ana.  Matthew Helme purchased the house in 1904 and moved it here by mule team.  He was a member of the first board of trustees in Huntington Beach and its fourth mayor.  Helme fought for the city's incorporation and worked for the development of a fire department, street lighting and a water system.  The building is being renovated by the Worthy family.  Both Helme buildings are listed on The National Register of Historic Places.
  8. 121 6th Street. At 121 6th Street is an example of a beach town resort cottage built in 1907 and renovated in 1941.
  9. 712 Pacific Coast Highway. Notice the working oil well behind the fence at 712 PCH built during the city's second oil boon in 1955.
  10. Huntington Pacific Condos. The white Huntington Pacific condos were built on the beach in 1967 by the Huntington Beach Company which then owned the beach at that site.  Buildings like these could never be built today because of restrictions imposed by the California Coastal Commission established in 1972.
  11. Huntington Inn. There's been a hotel on this spot since 1904 when the first pier was built.  The original two-story hotel, the Huntington Inn, was erected and became known as one of the finest hotels at the seashore.  in the 1950s it became an Elks Club, but was demolished in 1969.  The present Best Western hotel keeps the Huntington Inn name.
  12. 215 &227 8th Street. Examples of California Bungalow architecture built in 1922 are seen at 215 8th Street and 227 8th Street.  Cottages like these once filled the downtown area.
  13. First Church of Christ, Scientist. On 310 8th Street and Olive Avenue is the First Church of Christ Scientist building constructed in 1928.  It is an example of Period Revival Church architecture.  The grass parking lot was patterned after grass lots at Knott's Berry Farm.
  14. 324 8th Street. The beach town resort cottage at 324 8th Street was built in 1904.  It shows Victorian influences and has a gable roof and partial porch.
  15. Evangeline Hotel. In 1905 the spacious Evangeline Hotel at 421 8th Street was built.  This Craftsman-style building opened in 1906 as an elegant 18-room hotel.  Civil war veterans who attended the Grand Army of the Republic gatherings often stayed here with their horses tethered to the sidewalk rings.  This is now a private residence.  
  16. 510 8th Street. 510 8th Street is an example of a one-story house built in 1922 during the city's first oil boom.  The two Mexican fan palms in front were planted in 1924 to honor the birth of the original owner's son.
  17. Pecan Avenue. Look down as you walk along Pecan Avenue to see examples of an early hand-mixed concrete block sidewalk.  Over 110 years of weathering has exposed the local beach sand and seashells creating a unique salt and pepper texture.
  18. 504 7th Street. 504 7th Street was built in 1905 and originally had a barn in back.  Notice the original concrete block sidewalk and the writing, Magnolia Ave, in the cement.  Originally many HB streets were named after the trees that lined them.  
  19. Main Street LibraryThe Mid-Century Modern Main Street Library was built in 1951 and designed by the Los Angeles architecture firm of McClellan, MacDonald and Markwith.  It features a marble entrance, floor-to-ceiling windows and is one of the first examples of innovative concrete tilt-up construction.  A grandfather clock in the library was built by the HB High School Class of 1915.  The plaque at the library's entrance honors the library's inclusion of the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.
  20. Triangle Park. The library sits on Triangle Park.  First used as a park in 1912, it was a baseball diamond surrounded by signboards, then became noted for its horseshoe courts.  In 2013 the park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Notice the plaques commemorating this on the corner of Main Street and 6th Street.
  21. 415 6th Street. The beach cottage at 415 6th Street was built in 1917 but was moved to this site from the oil fields in the 1930s.  Many houses were moved for protection from dangerous oil fires or to make way for more drilling. 
  22. Community Bible Church. The Community Bible Church, originally known as the First Baptist Church, was dedicated in 1906, three years before HB was incorporated.  This is one of the oldest churches still standing in the city.
  23. Beach Court Apartments. The Beach Court at 323-327 6th Street and other courts like it provided residences during the rapid period of growth in the oil boom industry.  These courts, built in 1923, are examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.  A secret cellar used during Prohibition still exists. 
  24. 311 5th Street & 317 5th Street. The 1910 Craftsman bungalow at 317 5th Street has a basement, quite unusual for a beach house.  311 5th Street, built in 1931 is Zigzag Moderne architecture with its original brick interior wall.
  25. Pristine Motor Sports. Pristine Motor Sports at 228 5th Street was built in the 1920s and was originally a gas station and auto repair garage.  Through the years it housed car dealerships and a dry cleaners until the current owner bought it in 1978.
  26. 218-220 5th Street. 218-220 5th Street are circa 1908 examples of Neo-Classical Commercial architecture.  This building once house the City Hall, Fire Department and City Jail.  the facade was redone in the 1930s.  Later on in the tour (#28) the original brick exterior can be seen in the alley.  210 5th Street, now a restaurant, was built circa 1920 and was both the city's garage and part of an auto dealership.  In the 1930s and '40s it was a bowling alley.
  27. The Shank House. The Shank House, a two-story Craftsman Bungalow, was built in 1913 for Dr. George Shank, one of the first doctors in HB.  This bungalow was moved from its original location on 20th Street to here around 1926.  The HB Redevelopment Agency obtained the property in 2004 for use as a police substation.
  28. Jail Cells. Built in 1916, this stand-alone jail cell was the original jail.  Notice the original brick exterior of the redone 1908 commercial architecture seen earlier in the tour (#26).
  29. International Surfing MuseumThis Deco/Moderne building at 411 Olive Avenue was  built during the oil boom years in 1935 and once the office of Dr. Hawes, a general practitioner.  IT also acted as an emergency facility for burns from oil fires and other accidents since there was no hospital.  In 1987 the HB International Surfing Museum was established here.  Among the exhibits here is the cornerstone from the 1914 pier.
  30. Downtown U.S. Post Office. The U.S. Post Office, built in 1935 during the New Deal era and restored in 1991, was the work of Architect Louis A. Simon.  He also designed the Federal Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles and Washington D.C.'s IRS Building.  Inside are many original features like brass teller cages, painted numbers on mail boxes and historic pictures.
  31. 200 Block of Main Street. 217 Main Street, currently the Longboards Restaurant, was originally the Talbert- Leatherman Building, Circa 1904.  Starting as a Pioneer Feed & Fuel Co., it is one of the oldest commercial buildings in town.  HB's first gas pump was here.  This Western False Front building had many businesses based here including a Japanese market in 1907.  At 213 Main Street is The Sugar Shack, built in 1918, and established as a restaurant in 1967.  This building has been host to businesses including the Huntington Beach Sheet Metal Works (1919) and Huntington Beach Electric (1924).
  32. 126 Main Street. At the corner of Main and Walnut sat the open-sided Standard Market (1928).  Note the plaque at the entrance at HSS Clothing Store.  Around the corner at the restaurant's entrance find an informative plaque about the market's history.
  33. Beach IslandAcross the street at 127 Main, the Streamline Moderne building, circa 1938, now Beach Island, was originally the HB Cut Rate Drugs built by oil manufacturer S.R. Bowen, who was also a mayor of the city.
  34. Perqs. At 117 Main Street is a building that has probably had the most colorful history of any other building on Main Street.  Now Perqs Nite Club, it was built in 1905 as the Pacific City School.  Around 1914 it was rebuilt as the real estate offices of Seely & Lavering.  After the discovery of oil in HB in 1920 and the arrival of thousands of oil "roughnecks," H.F. Linder bought the building in 1922, turning it into Palace Pool Hall on the first floor and the Palace Hotel on the top floor.  This hotel reputedly also became a brother since men greatly out-numbered women during the oil boom years.  The building remained a pool hall and hotel under different names until 1952 when Brennemon Photography Studios moved in.  In the 1960s the Hall family ran a photography studio on the ground floor and lived upstairs.  
  35. Pierside Pavilion. Pierside Pavilion is where the legendary Golden Bear once stood.  Opened in 1929, it was demolished in 1986 to make way for downtown redevelopment.  It was an entertainment venue for such stars as Linda Ronstadt, Arlo Guthrie, Jerry Garcia, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Janis Joplin and many others.