By Norbert Schürer
Belmont Heights Gains Two More Landmark Homes
Ed. Note: Design-builder Miner Smith (1877-1965) worked in Long Beach during the early 1920s. His distinctive designs for what he called ‘Bungalow Mansions’ include gabled bungalows bordered with dentil molding and fanciful concrete planters, benches, and fountains with imitation tree bark. The BHCA and the Historical Society of Long Beach published a study of his life and work in 2015. Since then, recognition of his craftsmanship has soared. Thanks to current owners, these two landmark homes were recognized by the City Council in November 2020.
262 Newport Avenue
Erected in 1920 as 154 Newport, the house now at 262 Newport was one of the earliest bungalows Miner Smith built in Long Beach, perhaps one of his first Bungalow Mansions. Not yet established in Long Beach, he ran at least 46 local advertisements for the house over six weeks. According to his ads, this was a “Splendid Seven-Room Bungalow” “standing supreme in beauty, elegance and comfort.” Smith stated that this residence was “something really new, different and original,” and he highlighted the outside with three porches (front, side, and back) and two fountains: one in the front yard where now only a ring resembling tree bark remains and one in the driveway in the shape of a tree trunk. One fountain was topped by a water-spouting fish that sadly no longer survives. Smith described it as a “beautiful running fountain lighted at night by colored electric lights.” There was an outside shower and dressing room “for surf bathers.” Inside, Miner Smith’s trademark fireplace and two plein air paintings still exist. In the somewhat sexist language of the time, Smith claimed that the living, dining, and breakfast rooms “will set any woman’s heart fluttering.”
244 Mira Mar Avenue
244 Mira Mar was completed in 1921. Smith called it a “Splendid Large Bungalow” priced at $14,000. Many remember Bob and Isabel Campbell, the second owners of the house, who lived there for over 40 years. In 2017 Dominique Hohman bought the home from the Campbell estate and has spent several years beautifully restoring it. Lucky visitors toured it while it was open for the 2019 Great Homes Tour of Long Beach Heritage. The outside has five cast concrete tree trunk planters in niches with Miner Smith’s typical ogee (double S-shape) arches. The front of the house and the chimney feature long flower boxes supported by “tree trunks.” The dining room buffet has a beautiful plein air painting by an - as yet - unidentified artist. All the rooms had built-ins, and the electrical system was particularly elaborate: Smith advertised “one or more electrical outlets in each room.” According to the ad: “the general design and finish of this house represents the last word in beauty and comfort and will prove to be a source of real pleasure and satisfaction to the buyer.” Owner Dominique Hohman agrees.