Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Henry S Callahan -- 855 Elm Avenue, Long Beach

Born in Indiana, Henry Callahan (1868-1934) came to Southern California in 1894, settling first in Santa Ana, where he no doubt met and married Augusta C. (Young) in 1897. He began in the furniture business back in Indiana, so it made sense to continue when he arrived in Santa Ana, where the census noted his business as a "furniture clerk". Also in the census was the notice of his and Augusta's new daughter Thelma (1900-1917). Thelma would turn out to be their only child.

In 1902 the family moved to Long Beach, where Henry set up a furniture store in the new Masonic Temple on Pine Avenue. Shortly thereafter, the family moved into the building, creating a nice short stroll to work for Henry. By 1906 things must have been going well, as Henry signed on to fund a new bank, the Bank of Commerce, along with C.A. Buffum, another Long Beach furniture man. The bank may have merged, but it soon disappeared from the records by 1908.

In 1907 Henry ran for city council from the 3rd Ward, and won. He took office (at $3/session) in January, 1908 as mayor Stephen Townsend stepped down after his two terms, and Charles Windham was elected mayor from the city council. It was also about that time that Henry, Augusta, and Thelma moved into their new house on Elm Avenue on the edge of town. A photo of the house below:

The Callahan Residence around 1909

In the summer of 1908 the chamber of commerce and the mercantile manufacturers association decided to hold a city-wide "Festival of the Sea" around the upcoming Labor Day weekend, based on a similarly successful carnival held in San Bernardino. Parades and festivities were planned for five days, with a Queen and Juvenile Queen to be crowned. The festival's crowning of the queen made the front page of the Los Angeles Herald the next day. The headline included "Carnival of Sea Brilliant Spectacle" and "Beautiful City Ablaze with Myriad of Lights".

2 Sep 1908 L.A. Herald
(courtesy of ccdn.ucr.edu)

Yes, it was Augusta. And at the closing evening parade "King Rex" was unveiled to the crowds. The mystery man was--you guessed it--Henry.

Henry in 1910.
Henry no doubt dabbled in real estate once his furniture business was going. Records indicate that in 1913 he had a 5 story brick building built at 239 Pacific. Next year he joined up with W.L. Campbell as part of Campbell Investment Co. Campbell had long been involved in real estate and insurance in Long Beach.

In August, 1917 their only daughter Thelma died. No further details are known.

In 1925 Henry was back on the city council, and still in real estate with his Parkview Land Co. Inc. and Strand Improvement Co. It was also that same year that he and Augusta sold the house, moving down the block to 830 Elm. The buyer--Scottish Rite, put up a new cathedral in its place. Today the Romanesque building is a Long Beach Historic Monument.

Henry and Augusta moved again in the next few years, locating at 3215 E. Ocean. Henry passed away in 1934. Augusta remained in the house until 1936, then moved to a high-rise apartment at 455 East Ocean Blvd. where she lived until her last days.

The family is interred at Sunnyside Cemetery, Long Beach.

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