Peering over the Fence: Under Construction

A look at some of the ongoing changes on April 11, 2017.

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Before:  This picture was taken in the fall.  The tree on the left, and the trees behind the tower, in the courtyard are clearly visible.
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Before:  The tree between the two palms was still in place on March 29th.
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After:  Dirt in the grass in the center of the photo used to be a tree.  Notice that the trees in the courtyard also disappeared.
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After:  a clear view of the chimney in the courtyard.  In addition to the missing trees, most of the interior details have been stripped off and hauled away.
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Before:  trees in the courtyard.

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All of the wrought iron has been removed from the exterior of the building.
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The fountain has been removed from the courtyard.
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Looking at what was once P116 and now is only a frame.
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Looking down the corridor to the Viking office.  The flooring has been removed.
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P119 has been reduced to studs.
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Trees

In the following sequence of images, watch the trees in front of the building grow over the years.  The 1935 image above presents a peculiar angle.  The trees line a “street” that runs directly in front of the building, directly through campus.  This image appeared in the yearbook the year before the campus opened.

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1936
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1936
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1936

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1942

 

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Notice that the palm tree on the right, behind the bench in front of the entrance is not the same tree that was planted in 1936.  1942

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1948
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1948
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1949
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1949
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1949
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1949
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1952

 

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1953
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1962, looking south, towards Carson, through an N-Building arch.  The P-Building is on the right, just out of the photo.
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1962
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1965
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1967–This is also the earliest photo I have found that shows the door into the previous dressing room area after the dismantling of the Little Theater.
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2016–The flagpole was removed during the campus landscaping and drainage remodel of 2012-13.

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Faculty

This post is a work in progress as I continue to sift through the archives to identify faculty members.

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1937
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1942
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English Faculty 1948
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English Department, 1957
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1962
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1965
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1966

 

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A bequest to the Long Beach City College Foundation by long-time English faculty member Marian Sims Baughn allowed the department to establish and maintain the Marian Sims Baughn Center for the Literary Arts.  The beautiful theater room looks as it does because of this bequest.
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Thordis Haga was a long-time faculty member who taught German and math at the college.  She established a bequest which currently gives a generous scholarship to those students who earn President’s Scholar recognition at graduation.

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Alicia Hill Lackman served in the English Depart from the 1950s through the 1990s, including a long stint at Department Chair.  Her stories about the history of the building have helped me to make sense of the connections between old pictures and the building as I have known it.

Don Drury graduated from the college in 1939.  He returned  by 1948 to teach English and American literature.  He advised the Viking and ran the Long Beach News Bureau through the 1950s.  In 1977, he published the 50 year history of the college; this source has been invaluable in setting me straight about so much of the history in this blog.  A creative writing award is given by the English Department each year with a bequest that Drury established.

Hallways

The hallways in the building are wide with high ceilings that will get a bit lower in the remodel (in order to accommodate the air conditioning system).  Notice the large strip between the tops of the doors and the ceiling.

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In the original building, each classroom door had an opening transom window above it in order to provide ventilation to the rooms.  Those windows and doors were replaced when the current air conditioning/heating units were installed.  Notice that the original classroom doors had much larger glass panes in them.

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In the 1930s, students were studying in this hallway under the same windows that are seen in the previous picture.  The yearbook caption for this picture asks “What’s wrong with this picture?” so I assume that this was not a permanent arrangement.  Notice the original door at the left side of the photo.
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All the fire equipment a building needs–the old fire door slides out of its pocket and separates two sections of the hallway.  Note the glass case in the wall behind me, built for a fire hose but containing a more recent fire extinguisher that can’t quite fill the place of its ancestor.  And what are the two boxes higher up on the wall?  The jocular diamond pattern in the flooring was most likely added with the fluorescent lighting and the H/VAC.
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In 1957, the hallway was lit by a series of individual globed incandescent lights.

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This 1962 photo of the hallway in the M Building (looking out the door to N) shows the original classroom door designs, with a transom window above each.
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The view today shows how the doors were replaced when air conditioning was added to the buildings.  Note that the nook for the drinking fountain was removed.  The light within the vestibule matches the light in the earlier photo even as the hallway lights have been replaced with fluorescents.  Plumbing seems to accumulate along the upper walls.

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But on the second floor, the drinking fountain retains its alcove.

Vestiges

One of the charming aspects of the P-building was its accretion of pieces that didn’t quite go together.  As the functions of rooms changed over the years, walls, hooks, and wires were left behind.  In the top photo is a tag on a classroom lectern, cataloguing the piece as the property of the Long Beach Schools, from a time when LBCC was part of the Long Beach Unified School District.  Here are a few of the vestiges of former times that I managed to record.

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Notice the peculiar relation between tops of the windows and the ceiling.  The windows are higher than the lights.
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You can see the same design in this room as well (in addition to some of the indestructible steel and wood desks along the back wall).
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In this view, we are looking up at the original ceiling (in the center), the blinds are at the top of the image, and the later, dropped ceiling with its fluorescent lights is on the bottom.
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The door from P127 to P126 was no longer in use.
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The storage cabinets in each classroom were generally empty although these were  good places to find  old film strips and dusty student poster projects.
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Note the flag holder at the top of the slate chalk board.
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Most of the classroom had one of these frames up at the ceiling.
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Several of the classrooms had slate boards on two walls, but seating was so tight that it was often impossible to reach (much less use) the side boards.
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In this classroom, you can see above and below the chalkboard the trails of added wiring, and please note the overhead projector in the corner.
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The study elegance of the Lockwood door closers.
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The climate was controlled by a remote thermostat, but these old decoys gave us the reassuring sense that the heat pouring out in the middle of summer or the blasting air in the winter must be the result of an antiquated system.
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The fountain that never held water (as far as we can tell)
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Empty frames for outdated emergency instructions.

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The cabinet in the lounge contained the hot water heater.  Although the cabinet was ideal for storing folding chairs, it was locked in order to prevent us from putting anything near the flame.
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These units were once used to entertain students who enjoyed the spectacle of instructors trying to reach seven feet in the air in order to insert VHS tapes.  These units provided the rationale for the removal of the slate chalkboards in 2011.  It was reported that chalk dust interfered with the operation of the VHS players.  Apparently, it was not reported to the authorities that VHS was already an obsolete technology.

Kirtland Cutter

Kirtland Cutter (1860-1939) was born in Ohio, but spent the major part of his career in Spokane, Washington.  A fire in 1889 destroyed much of downtown Spokane, so Cutter’s work in the city was especially influential in shaping a city that Elbert Hubbard praised as “the most beautiful city ever created within so short a time in the history of the world.”

Evolution of styles

img_0358Cutter won the commission to build the Idaho State Building for the 1892 Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  The building gave him national exposure as part of a fair that had wide-reaching architectural influence.  The “White City” of the fair’s central courtyard, for instance, inspired cities around the country to construct neoclassical public buildings, and the Japanese pavilion was noted as a distinct influence on Southern California Arts and Crafts architects Charles and Henry Greene.

In his Idaho Building, Cutter created an enormous log cabin, held together primarily by the weight of the lumber, which included twenty-two different types of wood, all available in Idaho.  The entire building included details that showcased the natural resources of the state–volcanic rock on the ground floor, a fireplace made of rocks that contained various precious metals, and hallways of Idaho marble.

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Cutter’s Davenport Hotel in Spokane was one of his most dramatic spaces.

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Certain design elements are common throughout Cutter’s work.  He moved easily through various historical styles, beginning with work modeled on the Swiss chalet through the Spanish colonial revival that we know at Long Beach City College.  In every style, he returns consistently to elements that we stand out in his design for the English Building.

img_0370Cutter favored the irregularity of English medieval design and convinced patrons to incorporate these features into their plans.

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When he began working in California, he adapted his preference for such irregularity into Italianate designs.

Open ceiling beams with decorative elements

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The inglenook, or chimney corner–a small enclosed area around the fireplace adjoining the main room.  In the Little Theater, the surviving stage is evocative of the traditional inglenook.

img_0364Davenport’s private suite (1904) (167)

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The stage of the Little Theater in the English Building, now the Marian Sims Baughn Center for the Literary Arts, is a variation on the residential inglenook.

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img_0365img_0366First Church of Christ Scientist, Spokane (1907-8) was one of Cutter’s first building in the Mission Revival style.

img_0371Eucalyptus Hills (1913-14), Santa Barbara was one of his first project in a style suitable to California  (301)

Cutter moved to Long Beach (from Spokane) in 1923.  His office was in the Farmers and Merchants Bank downtown.  Jess J. Jones worked with him as a draftsman and builder and was active in the design of Long Beach City College.

Palos Verdes became a focus of Cutter’s work.  He served on the architectural jury that approved designs within the community, exerting extraordinary efforts to maintain standards of the City Beautiful movement.

img_0373He created the design for the Lunada Bay Plaza in Palos Verde, modeled on an Italian piazza.  This project was never executed.

img_0375Cameron House, Palos Verdes (1924) is one of several of Cutter’s California residential projects that incorporates a courtyard.

Buchanan House, interior (1927)

img_0378img_0377Ceiling elements (351)

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Ceiling elements in the Little Theater in the English Building.
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Ceiling elements in the Little Theater in the English Building
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Ceiling elements in the Little Theater in the English Building
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Ceiling elements in the original library
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Ceiling elements in the original library

 

james-russell-lowell-schoolCutter’s John Russell Lowell Elementary School (1926) was destroyed by the 1933 earthquake (photo from the Orange County Register).

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Abraham Lincoln School (1934)

The entry elements of Lincoln School are similar to those of the English Building:

 

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img_0383img_0381img_0380A significant collection of Cutter’s drawings for his Long Beach work are in the collection of Richard and Phyllis Poper, housed in the Architecture Library at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Poper (1920-2009) was an architect whose firm designed a number of buildings at LBCC.

The most comprehensive study of Cutter is Henry C. Matthews’ Kirkland Cutter:  Architect in the Land of Promise (University of Washington Press, 1998).  Many of the pictures on this page are selections from this book.

A 1985 documentary, Kirtland Kelsey Cutter:  Vision of an Era, is available on YouTube.  Part four covers the Long Beach portion of his career.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7yor4PfCMk

At the Sight of a Brilliant Flash . . .

Well into the second decade of the 21st century, the following “Emergency Procedure” was still posted in many of the classrooms and in the hallways of the P-Building:

At the sight of a brilliant flash of light or of the sound of an explosion, or when the command “DROP” is given, occupants of this room shall immediately assume the following position:  drop to their knees, under desks or other equipment; clasp hands behind the head, covering the neck; bury face in arms, protecting the head; close eyes and cover ears with forearms.  Remain in this position until instructed to do otherwise.

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Clearly an artifact of the Cold War, the date at the bottom of the instruction sheet is 1974.  It is pleasing that the instruction “This poster must be placed in a conspicuous permanent location” was followed so rigorously.  By the time this “permanent” poster finally was removed, there was nobody in the building who would be able to locate room 812.  For many years, the English Building was the 600 building, so I’m not sure where to direct you for first aid.

The Lounge

When the English Building opened, the lounge (later the English Lounge, P110) was a women’s social hall where students gathered, worked, met with their clubs, and displayed their art work.  Before the student union building opened, this was a student gathering space.  In the 1936 Saga yearbook, all the student clubs had their pictures taken in this room.

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The stage was popular for pictures (1936)
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One club member seems to have belonged to both of these groups.  (1936)
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1936
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1936
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1936
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1936
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Note the clock over the kitchen door.
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1936
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1942
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In this picture, it is clear that the floor was originally covered with carpet.  Note the folds in the lower right of the photo.  1946
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In some years, the lounge was simply more popular as a place for group photos.  1952
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Note the radiator in the corner.  1952
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The clock seems to have been painted white by 1952.
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1953
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1953
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1962
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1963
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Academic Senate, 1969.  Notice the heating unit in the corner of the room.

More recently, the lounge has fallen into some disrepair.  Due to classroom shortages, we brought in desks and chairs so that we could teach in the room.  A persistent leak in the courtyard doors caused the wooden floor to buckle, so the room has been entirely off-limits this last year.

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This is the same corner where the faculty sat in 1969 and in the lounge picture at the top of this post.  The heating feature that we see in all of the earlier pictures is no longer in the corner–that’s a portable screen leaning there in this photo.
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The lounge furniture is taking refuge on the stage.  This stage will be removed in the renovation, and a narrow kitchen area will replace it.

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The old schoolroom clock one hung above the kitchen door.
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The renovation will preserve some of this woodwork although much of it will have to be removed in order to meet current clearance standards.
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There is a story about an individual who was able to gain access to the kitchen during a Thanksgiving holiday and was able to prepare his turkey in the oven.  The gas stove/oven was removed about ten years ago due to safety concerns.

The Pool

Built in the mid-1950s, the swimming pool provided a state-of-the-art aquatic facility that attracted some of the world’s greatest talent to LBCC.  Olympic Coach Monte Nitzkowski led the swimming and water polo teams for years when the team routinely defeated the likes of UCLA, USC, and Stanford.  The diving pool included a window into the deep end where divers could be photographed with a Long Beach City College wall behind them.

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