Is It Hot In Here? (Long Beach’s Long Burning History)

I found myself browsing ilovelbny.com at length over the last week and was blown away by their collection of all things Long Beach.  With so much development in Long Beach recently, I couldn’t help but notice how many iconic buildings LB once had, but no longer.  And these sites weren’t bulldozed for condos, or leveled because of dilapdation, or trashed by a hurricane.  Instead, they all suffered the same fate.

Fire!

Friday’s post got me thinking about this incendiary story and it seems the City has a long and proud history over the last 100 years, of burning down.  When I talked to LBFD Chief Richard Corbett the other day on the siren story, I happened to bring up this subject as well.  He agreed that Long Beach had struggled with fire in the past – even during the ’60s and ’70s there was, on average, 30 major fires a year.  But, significant changes in building codes, fire education, and construction techniques – and of course, a better funded and staffed professional and volunteer fire department – have substantially lowered the occurrence and damage done by fires on this barrier beach.

The following is to the best of what I could find out on the interwebs:  some of the most dramatic and historic places in Long Beach that have burned to the ground in the past – never to return.

One note: many of these buildings have had many names over the years and tracking what is what is quite a challenge in some cases.  If you have any info or imagery to show, please submit it.

The Chateau Tourelles, later the Lafayette Hotel, and also called the Hotel Hubler.  It stood at the SW corner of E. Park and Jackson (Edwards) Blvd.  It burned to the ground on March 27, 1930

(photo courtesy of Ed Gloeggler)

The Hotel Murida, later Scharf’s Royale and the Royale Hotel.   It was built in the ’30s, and stood at 75 East Broadway.  This shot shows the fire that hit it in 1981 in full force, requiring what was left of it to be torn down.


Photo taken around 1920, one of the” Long Beach Estate Cottages” that burned to the ground.

Castles by the Sea circa 1920.  Used as a dance club, a theater, and a bath house among other things.  Located on the Boardwalk and Riverside.  Burned to the ground in 1936 (also the subject of the topper photo).

Thomas Healey’s, a hotel and restaurant built right after the Long Beach Hotel burned.  Built on the boardwalk and Long Beach Road.  It was even known as the Long Beach Casino for some years.  Burned to the ground in the 1920’s.  Fun fact, it was built with bricks from the burnt out Long Beach Hotel.
In this 1930’s photo, The President Hotel or Hotel President sits on the SW corner of Laurelton and the boardwalk.  It shared the same fate as the rest of this collection and burned to the ground on August 31, 1965.  Notice what is now the Hoffman Manor in the foreground on the right.
In this photo, the Hotel Jackson burns.  Circa January 1966.  I’m not sure if this is a forbearer to the currently defunct Hotel Jackson that stands on Lincoln and Broadway.
The Tower Baths on National Blvd.   Photo likely taken in the 1930s.  The baths burned down in 1965, but I’m not sure if it was still in operation then (doubtful).Photo courtesy of Lowell Taubman

The Long Beach Hotel which started the whole party here.  When it opened in 1880, it’s builder claimed it to be the largest hotel in the world.  It burned to the ground on July 29, 1907.  All that remained of it below.

What I get out of all this is to perhaps bitch and moan a bit less about the LBFD breaking the serenity of a quiet evening when their fire engines scream down the road.  And of course, simply be quite thankful we have a professional fire department down here in the first place.   So keep up the good work LBFD, let’s not lose any more of Long Beach.

All photos are courtesy of Ilovelbny.com, the LB Historical Society, and other open source sites unless otherwise noted.

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One thought on “Is It Hot In Here? (Long Beach’s Long Burning History)”

  1. There were three Jackson Hotels. The first two stood at the foot of Jackson (now Edwards) Blvd; the first burned in the 50s, I believe, and the second stood until the early 80s when its owners sold the property to the developer that built the Avalon. The third and last, now the Long Beach Hotel, was originally the Lincoln Hotel; the owners of the old Jackson bought it and renamed it so that customers would know it was under the same management.

    One fire that I witnessed personally as a teenager was the Commander Apartments, on West Broadway right next to The Broadway. It was a defining moment of my life growing up in LB. Hpwever, for some reason I can’t seem to find any photos or documentation anywhere, not even on ilovelbny.com.

    and btw, the Royale/Murida was where my parents met, when it was an actual hotel in the late 50s.

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