AKA: Biltmore Hotel, Hermosa Beach, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels; built works - recreation areas and structures

Designers: Hunt and Chambers, Architects (firm); Wolvin, J.A., Company, Building Contractors (firm); Harold Coulson Chambers Sr. (architect); Myron Hubbard Hunt (architect)

Dates: constructed 1923-1925, demolished 1969

8 stories

view all images ( of 1 shown)

1400 Strand
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map

Building History

The Pasadena architectural firm of Hunt and Chambers designed the Surf and Sand Club for a site on the Strand between 14th and 15th Streets in 1923. Construction commenced by 12/1923, and the eight-story edifice, equipped with overnight accommodations, meeting rooms, a grill, and dining room in addition to such recreational amenities as a indoor pool, bowling alley, and rooms dedicated to card play and billiards, had a cornerstone-laying ceremony on 05/17/1924. The building opened in 06/1925 but was still not complete, as some interior appointments and furniture had not yet arrived. Completion occurred by 03/1926.

The Surf and Sand Club formed an affiliation with several other Los Angeles-area athletic clubs by 1929, including Santa Monica Athletic Club, Hollywood Athletic Club, Los Angeles Athletic Club (LAAC), Riviera Country Club (owned by the LAAC, but having a separate membership), California Yacht Club (Wilmington, Los Angeles) and the Pacific Coast Club (Long Beach). The Depression sunk the fortunes of the Surf and Sand Club, and the Biltmore Hotel chain acquired the property.The name "Surf and Sand Club" remained into the 1930s, but was later replaced with "Hermosa Biltmore."

The hotel had a group of consecutive owners after World War II, with most unable to maintain the property as a first-class establishment. On 11/29/1963, Rev. Clarence Theodore Emanuel Walberg (born 02/18/1906 in Rush City, MN-d. 04/18/1995 in Orange County, CA) and his Cup of Cold Water Ministry, Incorporated, took possession of the property. Walberg had a daily radio sermon on KGER radio in Long Beach and hoped to make the aging hotel his evangelical ministry's global center. Walberg opened a youth center at the site in 1964, but ran into legal trouble two years later. They were indicted on 15 charges of violating CA securities laws, but three of these were dismissed. On 01/24/1967, Walberg and his associate, Rev. Wayne Davidson, were convicted of violating securities laws in Los Angeles Superior Court, given three years probation and fined $1000 and $500 respectively. (See "Ministers Receive Sentence," Redondo Reflex, 03/09/1967, p. 2.) With their convictions, the hotel's rehabilitation plan stopped, and the Cup of Cold Water Ministry sold the hotel to the City of Hermosa Beach. (Much of the information in this article was based on Sam Gnerre, Daily Breeze.com, "The long, strange journey of Hermosa Beach’s Biltmore Hotel," published 08/06/2016, accessed 07/24/2019.)

Building Notes

The hotel had a reinforced concrete frame structure, with a masonry exterior.


A fire in 1968 badly damaged the building's second floor.


The building became vacant in its last years, and was inhabited by squatters who started the 1968 fire. Shortly thereafter, the hotel was condemned and razed in 1969. Following its demolition, the city council of Hermosa Beach had a difficult time agreeing on what to do with the vacant land. Between 1972 and 1994, 14 referendums were held by local voters over plans for the parcel. Finally, Joe and Betty Noble of Hermosa Beach donated $90,000 to fulfill Proposition D approved by voters on 11/03/1992, and a city park, named "Nable Park," was created on the site, completed on 09/22/1995.

PCAD id: 2470