Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Charles H. Windham -- 435 Cedar Ave. Long Beach

It was 1904, and Charles Windham (1871-1932) was looking for a place in California where he could get a good education for his five children.  He decided on Long Beach. On such seemingly small decisions substantial history is sometimes made.

Charles and his family had come to Long Beach from Costa Rica, where Charles had met his wife Angelica (1875- ), and where their first three children had been born. Charles first went to Latin America to work on a Nicaragua-based canal, then shifted to the railway business, where he accumulated enough monies to run coffee and sugar plantations. Success there was such that in Long Beach in 1906 he had a new 6 bedroom, 4,000 square foot house built on Cedar Avenue, just a half block from former mayor Stephen Townsend, who served 1903-1905.  Charles was elected to the city council too, and in 1909 he became mayor, serving two terms. During that time he was very involved in getting the city of Long Beach committed to building a harbor to compete with Los Angeles's next door at San Pedro.

Here's a photo of the house in the 1909 timeframe.
435 Cedar Ave.

The 1910 census recorded as living in the house Charles, wife Angelica, daughters Marta (1894- ), Clara (1896- ), and Marguerite (1904- ), sons Charles A. (1898- ) and James B. (1906- ), one servant, and a visitor from Costa Rica.

Charles believed strongly in a harbor for Long Beach, and was backed by the people of Long Beach, who had committed $245,000 in bonds to purchase land and improve harbor access. Charles even testifying in Congress for the support of the Army Corps of Engineers to help create a deeper, larger harbor and breakwater. His efforts were ultimately successful, helping to achieve the harbor we know today.  Recently the city of Long Beach mentioned that achievement as part of its 100 yr. anniversary (below).


By 1920 Charles and Angelica had moved from 435 Cedar Avenue, residing at 1622 E. 1st St. in 1922, when he was the city postmaster. Dr. Alexander Montgomery had purchased the Cedar Avenue home, running his practice, living there, and renting rooms from the establishment.

C.H. Windham in 1909
Next year Charles was asked to become city manager, after a recall of his predecessor, which he stayed with for two or so years. In 1925 he was offered the city manager job for Hollywood, Florida with a salary of $50,000.  The town was interested in developing a harbor from its shallow bays. He stayed for two years, returning to Long Beach to reside at 33 Hermosa Avenue.

In early 1932 he caught influenza, and passed away April 11, leaving Angelica and his five children. Son Charles had gone on to become chief deputy city attorney, after working in real estate.

In the mid-1980s, the house began a new career, becoming the Lord Mayor's Bed & Breakfast, which continued for over 15 years, with the owners retiring. It has since reverted to a single family house.


And lastly a current photo of the house:
435 Cedar in 2016
(courtesy of the author)
More on 435 Cedar:
Lord Mayor's website (photos of rooms)
Long Beach Historical Landmark

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