AKA: Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Milwaukee Building Company (firm); Philip W. Holler (architect); Mendel S. Meyer (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1912

view all images ( of 1 shown)

Building History

The heiress Elizabeth Milbank Anderson (1850-1921) erected this beachfront vacation home as an alternative to her urban townhouse in New York City. She inherited money from her father Jeremiah Milbank (1818-1884), a wholesale grocer who invested his money in various ventures including the New York Condensed Milk Company (later rechristened the "Borden Company" in 1899) and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway (aka "The Milwaukee Road,"). His estate was said to have been worth about $32 million at his death in 1884. His money was distributed to Elizabeth, a son Joseph Milbank, and a granddaughter Eleanor Milbank Anderson (1878–1959).

Elizabeth became a smart investor and a significant philanthropist during her life. A morally upright person, she donated some of her wealth to various public health charities, including those fighting tuberculosis. She gave money in 1913 to found the Department of Social Welfare at the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor in New York, a group that provided medical care in schools, added school drinking fountains, enhanced light and air in city schools, and subsidized free lunches to disadvantaged children in New York City. She also gave generously to education, donating sizeable amounts to the New York Spence School and Greenwich Academy of Greenwich, CT, a private girl's school. She made available 3 blocks of New York City property for Barnard College, and gave money to two colleges for African-American students, including Fisk University in Nashville, TN, and Tuskegee Institute Institute in Tuskegee, AL. She also was a patron of the arts, providing money to build Henry Miller's Theatre, at 124 West 43rd Street in New York City.

Elizabeth Millbank Anderson began to spend part of her year in Southern California, first staying in Pasadena (c. 1906), then Los Angeles (c. 1907), and finally building this large California Bungalow in Long Beach in 1911-1912.

Five years after her death, the California Casa Real Club moved into the Anderson House, using the facility for about three years. Thomas A. O'Donnell (1870-1945), one of California's "Big Four" oil entrepreneurs, owned the property between 1929 and 1944. He made a fortune investing in the massive oil fields near Coalinga, CA, after 1902, and was a longtime associate of oil magnate Edward Doheny. During World War II, the US Navy requisitioned the building, using it as its Chief Petty Officers' Club. The City of Long Beach then purchased the residence in 1950 for use as its Municipal Arts Center.

According to the web site of the Long Beach Museum of Art, "The Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA) was founded in 1950 as a municipal art center for the city of Long Beach. Since its inception, the Museum has been housed in the historic 1911 Elizabeth Milbank Anderson House. In 1957, the Anderson House was designated as the Long Beach Museum of Art, at which time the Museum began acquiring a permanent collection. In 1977, the Museum was honored with accreditation by the American Association of Museums, which it has since maintained. Since 1986, the Long Beach Museum of Art Foundation has managed the Museum, governed by a Board of Trustees. In 2000, the Museum completed a restoration of the historic residence and constructed a new two-story exhibition pavilion (in 2015 the pavilion was renamed the Hartman Pavilion)." (See Long Beach Museum of Art.org, "About the Museum," accessed 02/03/2021.)


The museum underwent additions, c. 1974 and c.1995.

PCAD id: 548