Boom and Bust: Miner Smith and His 1920s California Bungalow Mansions


by Norbert Schürer

Miner Smith (1877-1965) was a contractor who built about two dozen houses in the Belmont Heights area of Long Beach in the 1920s. Smith's houses are easily recognizable from the outside by the niches in the porch columns, where Smith placed concrete planters crafted to resemble tree trunks. On the inside, these houses are remarkable for the extraordinary quality of their craftsmanship, which included intricate fireplaces, ornate molding, clever built-ins such as pull-out tables and shoe-shine stands, and even some plein air art paintings. Smith was also one of the first builders to put electricity in his houses, and he advertised them in the local newspapers in numerical order as 'Bungalow Mansions.'

Based on research in city and newspaper archives as well as interviews with descendants of Miner Smith and current owners of his houses, this book for the first time tells Smith's story from his childhood and youth in Ohio and New Jersey to his first venture in Los Angeles. His business there, like subsequent his career in Long Beach, began with a boom but ended in bust. Smith's later work in San Jose and Montebello went through the same cycle. Nevertheless, Miner Smith should be remembered for his unique houses and for the contribution he made to the architecture of Long Beach.

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non-fiction, soft cover, 150 pages.

LB Gazette: About the author, the HSLB exhibit, and the book.

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