Long Beach, New York
The American House and Restaurant
21 Arizona Ave
(also the Arizona Hotel and Bar)
New research and a new photo and finally a definitive location for the American House mystery postcard. First off, some postcards from the 30's and 40s show the American Hotel as I remember it as a kid in the 60's, a rectangular red brick building on the SW corner of Arizona and Oceanview next to the Arizona Hotel and Bar. But an earlier color postcard shows the building as a wood frame building with a smaller building to it's right, much like buildings along Beech St such as Shines. It bears no resemblance to it's newer brick sibling...still another photo, which I think is the oldest photo, shows a part of the American House with a porch rail on the second floor, which is not in later shots. Finally a photo surfaced which I think pulls it all together. A postcard from what appears to be around 1925 (judging from the car) showing the American Hotel attached to what became the Arizona Hotel and Bar. Now there is no doubting where it was located. Many thanks to the Long Beach Public Library for some of these photos
Here's my theory, and it's certainly open for corrections if you have any info on it. I believe the oldest view is the one above, looking up Arizona Ave with the sign for the American House visible on the white railing on the second floor. This rail is not visible in later photos and the front of the building is different. This building had a steep peaked roof, you can see it's shadow in the street. This photo also has no lamp posts in front. Next to it is a small cottage with an Ice Cream and Soda sign out front. I believe that bungalow was on the SW corner of Arizona and Ocean View. This particular type of postcard started being used about 1907 until about 1925. Based on the number of bungalows visible and comparing to known, dated photos I'd guess this photo was circa 1920.
Looking north on Arizona Ave from just south of Oceanview, circa 1920.
The American House is the building with the restaurant sign.
This view from after 1930 does not show a connection to the Arizona Hotel which was connected on the left in the photo above.
The Arizona Bar in later years preparing for Hurricane Gloria (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE)
What I think happened is the original American House was either renovated and added on to, or razed (burned ??!!) and rebuilt as the larger hotel. Shortly thereafter it was added on to again, adding the attached structure which was eventually to become the Arizona Hotel / Bar. It appears it was later detached again for some reason. The smaller bungalow to it's right that sold Ice Cream may have been turned into the Garden Restaurant portion in the color photo, or was also rebuilt as new when the American was redone.
And then it changed again.....
Sometime between the 1930's and 1940's the American House changed again. This time it became a rectangular red brick, 3 story building taking up both lots between the Arizona and Oceanview. The name also changed to "Hotel" instead of "House". This is how most of us may remember it. I have no information about why or exactly when the wooden hotel was replaced. I do believe it was most likely torn down rather than burned, as it's proximity to the Arizona certainly would have resulted in its destruction as well if it were a serious fire in those days.
Today, the bones of the last American, the red brick building, are still at the SW corner of Arizona and Oceanview. Now covered in stucco and heavily renovated, it has become condos. Today each condo unit sells for more than $250,000, some more than $300,000. That kind of money could have built the original American House dozens and dozens of times over in the 1920's !!
Click the photo to open a photo of the dining room in the brick American Hotel on the left.
Click to open this grainy photo, believed to be about 1924. Notice the future Arizona Hotel has not been added on to the left side yet.
Click the photo to open a photo looking north on Arizona after Hurricane Donna in 1960. The Arizona and American are on the left. Notice how far the beach ticket booth was moved up the street in the storm !