A Peek Inside the Re-Birth of Long Beach’s Second-Oldest Commercial Building
For two years, the wonderfully gorgeous structure that sits on the south side of Broadway in between the Promenade and Long Beach Blvd. had a white wall with colorful nods toward Long Beach culture wrapped around its front face.
Now, the wall is down and within the coming month, its top two floors will be home to Long Beach-based interTrend Communications, who scored the building for a $1 in 2012 after the RDA dissolved and left a multitude of properties within the city under a giant, existential question mark. Of course, there was a caveat to the seemingly cheap purchase: since the building, known as the Psychic Temple, was an historic landmark, a very pricey and lengthy restoration of the structure would have to be covered by interTrend.
interTrend was slated to move in at the end of 2013 but, according to developer and builder Jan van Dijs (heading the construction of the project), a mixture of the building’s unforeseen deterioration and planning issues continually pushed back the project.
As for the 4,500 sq. ft. ground floor—a wonderful space by any means given the large windows window clearstories on the Broadway side—is expected to be a restaurant but permitting hasn’t even begun for the space nor has a kitchen been installed. Original plans by van Dijs indicated the restaurant would be using the basement space as well, with grand stairs greeting visitors from the ground floor entry and descending into the wide basement space. For now, the basement—complete with glass sidewalk installations that permit natural light a la Blind Donkey to infiltrate—is slated to be a conference room.
“Mostly, I’m just happy to see the largest part of it finishing,” van Dijs said. “I think it’s truly a beautiful space with a ton of character—this isn’t to say it wasn’t a lot of work. It was more than we expected but we’re happy to move on.”
When it had finished construction in 1905, the Psychic Temple building opened with a bang: it became none other than the headquarters of a local cult by the name of the Society of New & Practical Psychology, known to members as The Holy Kiss Society.
Amidst lawsuits and enemies, owner and Society leader William C. Price was forced to sell the building to Anna Sewel for about $3K. Throughout DTLB, it then became commonly known as the American Hotel thanks to its signage that survived the building’s many other incarnations. A speakeasy. A brothel. A flophouse. Yet somehow, through all the debauchery and dilapidation, the building survived, even becoming an historic landmark in the city in 1989.
Come November of 2012, interTrend saw an opportunity to restore Long Beach’s second-oldest commercial building (behind Pine Avenue’s Masonic Temple) to its former glory—and that they have. When the front of the building was first complete around March of 2014, van Dijs worried that the impeccable facade was too perfect.
“It came out so beautiful that I was worried that people wouldn’t think it was a true restoration,” van Dijs said. “But it is exact—we even have the pictures to prove it.”
Outside of the I-beams, which were put in following a retrofit of the building in the 1970s, everything is true to the original building. The gorgeous brick facade with arches surrounding each window, decorated with gray arch stones, grace the front wall along with the aforementioned clearstories and glass fronts.
interTrend will be fully moved into its new 15,000 sq. ft. space within the month, with the soon-to-be restaurant taking over the ground floor at an unexpected time.