"Googie" Style Architecture At Defunct Car Dealership Repurposed And Reemerges As Sleek Mini-Mall

Melloby Joe Mello, Community Correspondent

This story follows-up on a May 3, 2011 story, authored by Mr. Mello with contributions by Daryl Supernaw, titled "LB's 'Googie' Architecture Rediscovered & Repurposed." To access it, click here.)
(April 11, 2013) -- The former Ray Vines Chrysler dealership's buildings -- prominent local examples of Googie-style architecture at the NW corner of Willow St./Lakewood Blvd. -- have re-emerged as a mini-mall and carwash...with their Googie architecture proudly and prominently displayed.

Located south of the 405 underpass (across the freeway from Long Beach Airport), the mini-mall is dubbed "LBG" -- Long Beach Gateway -- a play on Long Beach Airport's code LGB.

"Googie" style architecture proliferated in southern CA from the post-WWII 40's into the mid-60s and featured sweeping roofs, geometric shapes, large glass panes and designs symbolizing motion and the "space age."

Architect Paul B. Clayton's original soaring double-winged roof and front glass exterior have been completely rebuilt and now serve as the anchor for several new store fronts. On the side of the Googie structure is a large photo-mural of the building as the former Ray Vines Chrysler/R.O. Gould Chrysler/Plymouth dealership.

Adjacent to the original structure is a newly built carwash featuring a soaring "single wing" roof that pays tribute to Clayton's original design.

The repurposed Googie-style building is across Lakewood Blvd. from another iconic building: the round Long Beach Holiday Inn Tower. It's also kitty-corner to the 24-hour Spire's diner.

Clayton's most famous structure was Johnie's Broiler on Firestone Blvd. in Downey, completed in 1958, closed in 2001, converted into a car dealership until 2006 and (despite its eligibility for CA's Registry of Historical Resources) demolished without a city permit on Jan. 7, 2007. Preservationists enlisted the help of the JKBBD restaurant group, the owners of Bob's Big Boy, which reconstructed the building from Clayton's original blueprints; it re-opened as a Bob's Big Boy Broiler in 2009.

Googie style architecture reportedly took its name from L.A.'s vanished Googies coffee shop (formerly at Sunset Blvd./Crescent Heights). Some remaining L.A. examples include Norm's on La Cienega Blvd. south of Melrose Ave. and Pann's on La Cienega at La Tijera Blvd.; Johnie's coffee shop on Wilshire at Fairfax is now closed.

The beautifully repurposed Long Beach LBG mini-mall is now a functioning local tribute to the Googie architecture of Paul Clayton...who died in February 2005 at the age of 91.

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