Friday, March 10, 2023

The B.K. Stone Building, Newport Beach

View from the Dory Fish Market, circa 1930.

Someone recently asked me about the history of the building at 2100 W Oceanfront at McFadden Place, near the Newport Beach Pier. While researching it, I was shocked to discover how little information about this iconic building is in circulation. Moreover, much of the information that is in circulation is wrong. I won't get into the nitty-gritty of the property records here, but will share some of the basics.

Architect's concept Sketch (From Santa Ana Register, Jan. 1, 1927)

The lot was purchased by Bagasar K. Stone of Pasadena on Aug. 29, 1908. Either there was already a building on the lot or Stone soon built one there. 

But on March 2, 1927, Stone contracted with builder William Rohrbacker to build a newer, larger building on the site. The architect for the project was Frank Lansdown, who also designed the Bowers Museum and the beautiful Santora Building in Santa Ana.

Ocean Front and McFadden Place, circa 1940s.

Several tenants in the old building temporarily moved their businesses into tents on the sand across the boardwalk while the new building was under construction. The plan was initially for the upstairs space to be offices, but that space was ultimately used as part of a hotel/rooming house. The side facing McFadden Place has a slight curve to it, alinging with the railroad right-of-way that once allowed cargo trains access to the old McFadden Wharf (Newport Beach Pier).

Early photos of the building show the first floor occupied by such tenants as [Eddie I.] Moore's Confectionery, a lunch room, and a bait shop. By the 1930s, Moore's remained and was joined by other buisnesses that came and went, including Clair G. Martin's Good Food (and drugstore), Mac's Malt Shop, and Charles O. Artz Fishing Tackle. Upstairs, the Newport Hotel remained a fixture for decades.

View from McFadden Square, circa late 1930s

At the height of the Great Depression, in 1934, the First Trust & Savings Bank of Pasadena foreclosed on the building. It wasn't until 1940 that they resold it to Bryant B. Casey who owned it until his death, almost a decade later. The building was then inherited by Haldis S. Hertzog in Nov. 1950. It still housed the Newport Hotel upstairs, with the Pacific Shell Store, the Seaside Malt Shop, and Newport Villa restaurant downstairs.

On Dec. 5, 1972, Richard Lee Lawrence and Jerry Allen Overland leased the building from Haldis and Francis C. Hertzog for a period of 98 years. Overland signed over his interest in the lease to Lawrence in 1975. Sometime thereafter, Lawrence transferred the lease to the family which currently holds the remainder of the 98-year lease. 

Today, the B. K. Stone building is the attractive centerpiece of what remains of Newport Beach's historic downtown. 

1 comment:

Chris Jepsen said...

John C. writes: "I read with fascination your blog about McFadden Square. I notice that the building says Irwin carved into the stone up top. I was under the impression that the Irwin family was the first owner. Not sure."

Thanks for writing, John.

The Irwin Block is actually the large brick building NEXT DOOR to the B.K. Stone Building. It appears the Irwin Block was built in 1932. Mrs. Sadie Irwin had recently been granted a long-term contract to provide space to the Newport Beach Post Office, and part of the inspiration for the new building was to serve that need. One of the other early tenants was Walter Morgan's drug store.