(Okay, this is real long, but cut us some slack.  Seal Beach’s Founders Day is coming up, so how can you have too much information about its founder?)

Seal Beach founder Philip A. Stanton must have been a very driven man.

By 1913, he had been a very successful real estate agent for over 25 years, the founder of three communities (Pacific City – later Huntington Beach — in 1902, Bay City – soon to be Seal Beach — in 1904,  Stanton – formerly Benedict — in 1911), and a four term California legislator, the Speaker of the State Assembly, and a candidate for Governor in 1910.

But he had never made the big kill.

The bust following the boom of the 1880’s, the depression of the 1890’s, the shortage of capital following the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, and the steamroller effect of the Progressive Movement  in California politics had all conspired to keep him from joining the top echelons of California’s movers and shakers.

In 1912 Stanton set out to correct that injustice.

Returning to Southern California, Stanton once again assumed the title of President of the Bayside Land Company and very soon after that, he organized the major land developers between Long Beach and Newport into the South Coast Improvement Association. Other members included J.J. Armitage (Sunset Beach), T.P. Talbert (Huntington Beach), and W.S. Collins (Newport Beach).

One of the first things the Association did was to arrange for reduced rates on the Pacific Electric — which by now was basically controlled by the Southern Pacific.    (The SP had bought out Henry Huntington’s interests in the Pacific Electric and Stanton was the head — at least on paper — of the anti-Progressive faction of the Republican Party, which was basically backed by The Southern Pacific and Harrison Gray Otis and the Los Angeles Times. )

South Coast Improvement Association - 1912 - Phil Stanton is seated at the head of the table. (Courtesy OC Archives)

The Association took out large ads in the Sunday papers over the next few years, extolling the beaches, the towns, the roads, the crowds, the improvements, the amount of money being spent, and even the number of “All-the-year-round homes.”
Stanton himself hosted events for large groups at the beach in front of his 101 Ocean Avenue home — the Million Club and the Barker Brothers annual picnic were just two. In September 1915, the L.J. Christopher Company hosted 250 employees and over another 1000 family members and friends at their annual picnic.

And in late 1913, for the first time, the name Seal Beach was being used in marketing materials.

Despite the media blitz, Stanton’s portion of the South Coast wasn’t seeing a lot of action — at least not as much as Stanton wished. More and more people were getting automobiles, but as there were few good roads, it was an ordeal to drive to Bay City — especially after a heavy rain. And there was a lot of competition from other Beach towns — Santa Monica, Ocean Park, Venice, Redondo Beach and Long Beach which not only all had piers, but Long Beach, Ocean Park and Venice all had amusement parks.

Putting an exclamation point on the problem was the competition from the growing Southern California film industry. Moving pictures had become films — with plots that lasted longer than five minutes — and companies that made those films had discovered the positives of Southern California — perennial sunshine; little rain; mountains, ocean, lakes and desert all within fifty miles of each other, and close proximity to Mexico in case they had to escape from the Edison Company, or creditors. Those same film companies also discovered the beach towns — but not Seal Beach. D.W. Griffith filmed at Balboa, and confusingly enough, the brand new Balboa Amusements Moving Picture Company built one of the largest studios around in the heart of Long Beach at 6th and Alamitos.  If they needed a beach scene, they just went down the street to the Rainbow Pier or the Pike.

Making things tougher, World War I had started and the economy took another hit.

But opportunity presented itself in 1915 with the success of the San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition. From its opening on February 20, 1915 (President Wilson pressed a button in Washington which activated the start in San Francisco) through its closing in December 3, the Exhibition had wowed its visitors — 18 million of them who were in awe of the lush gardens, Moorish-inspired fountains, and pastel-colored buildings. The centerpiece was the 43-story Tower of Jewels and “The Scintillator,” a bank of moving colored searchlights which in the foggy, misty nights resembled the aurora borealis, thanks to General Electric which wanted to showcase its new line of lighting products.
Another hit of the fair was The Zone, a seven block amusement park  area

Even before the exhibition was half way over, the fair’s backers were wondering what to do with all those rides. Fortunately, for Stanton, one of the exhibition’s major backers was I.W. Hellman, the President of Wells Fargo, the top businessman in San Francisco, and the owner of the Hellman Ranch and Anaheim Landing which was the southern third of Rancho Los Alamitos (which also included most of the town of Seal Beach). Very quickly, post-exhibition arrangements were made for much of the fair’s leftovers.

On July 15, 1915, the Jewel City Amusement Company was incorporated with an authorized capital stock of $500,000. But while rumors swirled about, before plans could be confirmed or released, Philip A. Stanton had some details to deal with.

First on his list, he need to make Bay Town into a real city — which his company could control. A big reason for this was that Stanton also knew that if you’re going to have an amusement zone, you need some liquid amusements. And for that you also needed a city which could vote to allow it. So on September 7 the Orange County Supervisors received a petition signed by 526 residents of the Bay City community asking that the voters of that humble burg be allowed to vote on incorporation.

Opposition sprang up immediately. The LA Times quoted Bay City resident Ira Patterson as declaring “there were not 526 residents of the city, and that the local opinion that table liquor licenses would be quickly granted was openly expressed.”  Even a Long Beach faction known as the “Extra Drys” voiced their concerns about having “a wet town on the eastern border of Long Beach, one within easy reach by electric car.”

But proponents countered that this was just a matter of civic betterment and the liquor issue should not even enter into the discussion at this time.  In reporting this, the LA Times noted “there seems to be something over which there are many winks and nods among Seal Beachites.”

The Supervisors must have agreed that the liquor issue was a later discussion, because on October 3 they voted to call an election to be held on October 19. And the proponents quickly put together an “Incorporation Ticket” with five running as Trustees: James H. Biagge, Herman J. Eichorn, Clarence A. Little, Harry G. Magle, and John C. Ord. Arthur Havens was their candidate for City Clerk and Milletus H. Snow for treasurer.
Stanton no doubt had his hands in the process. He let it be known that “Improvements to exceed in cost $1,000,000 will be begun soon after the election. A concrete promenade extending from Anaheim Landing to the channel at Alamitos Bay is to be constructed. A double bulkhead will protect ocean-front property.

The issue was never in doubt and on October 19, 1915, Bay City residents overwhelmingly voted to incorporate as Seal Beach, a city of the sixth class, by a vote of 84 to 16.
Elected as trustees (city council members) were Judge John C. Ord (98 votes), James H. Biagge (78), Harry G. Magee (76), Herman Eichorn (71), and C.A. Little (79). Not elected but getting votes were Russell (20), Richards (18), Reader (18), and Herbert (19). One other candidate, Ira Patterson, who was apparently right when he said the community didn’t have 500 residents, didn’t get many votes of the residents it did have, netting only 18 votes himself.
The celebration barbecue began even before the last votes were cast, and the Times described the city’s birth as amidst “a blaze of light, with dancing and feasting.”
After the barbecue dinner, Ord, who would become the city’s first mayor, spoke on the past, R.A. Adams on the present, and Robert B. Armstrong on the future of Seal Beach. Then there were fireworks, bonfire and dancing.
Reportedly, the Balboa Amusements Company was there to film the event — supposedly making it the first night-time film ever shot in Orange County, but a copy of that film cannot be located.
That was probably the only thing that had gone wrong in the plan, as things were falling nicely into place for Stanton and his group.  One week later, the Bolsa Chica Gun Club agreed to let Orange County construct a road through their property to complete a paved road from Seal Beach to Balboa.
And two weeks after that, on November 10, Stanton announced that the Bayside Land Company had signed a contract with Frank Burt, the director of concessions and admissions at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, to “manage a great new amusement resort at Seal Beach,” bringing in many concessions from the amusement zone in San Francisco, as well as “many of the classic fountains, statues and ornamental light standards,” and the “great battery of scintillators… [whose] searchlights, playing on land and sea, are expected to attract much attention.”
Over $1,000,000 would be spent in making Seal Beach a rival of Venice.

Burt was perhaps the Peter Ueberroth of his time. A resident of Denver, he was hired to run the Panama Pacific fair in 1912, and by 1914 he gave a speech saying the fair was already one million dollars into profits. Where other cities had scrambled to raise funds, Burt had helped make the San Francisco event totally self-sufficient. While he and all the concessionaires had to work within the architectural guidelines of the exposition, Burt did not try to superimpose his vision on his vendors. He encouraged them to be creative.

Seal Beach letter head - 1916For Seal Beach, Burt (or perhaps Stanton) even hired one of the fair’s assistant architects, 28-year old Edward Symmes, to draw up plans for many of the new buildings in Seal Beach. (Symmes, an able assistant to the fair’s Chief architect Bernard Maybeck, was also the son of a Southern Pacific engineer, and would become the adopted father of famous poet Robert Duncan.  Symmes and his wife Minnehaha — honest! — were just your typical conservative couple who also had an interest in the occult. Whether that had any effect on the new Seal Beach buildings is now purely a matter of conjecture. He is also the same Symmes who drew the ornate beach drawing that adorned the Seal Beach city letterhead in 1916) (see photo, above left).

Things were happening real fast now. At the November 28 meeting of the new city council, to no one’s surprise, “Ordinance No. 5” passed by a unanimous vote and Seal Beach went “wet,” causing the LA Times to gush that the new town now “edges its way into the spotlight of Southern California’s numerous ‘watering places’ and resorts where the bright lights gleam and care is thrown to the winds.”

Burt released more details about the new amusement area in mid-January. The general theme would be Spanish and Gothic — like the Panama-Pacific and all individual buildings had to be passed by and approved by the supervising architect, Mr. Symmes. (They had CC&R’s even then).

    “The present pavilion, dance hall and pier at Seal Beach would form the nucleus of the new resort which would extend equal distance to the east and west on either side of it.”

Seal Beach pierTo the end of the renovated and widened Seal Beach pier, already 1,865 feet in length, would be added a T-shaped extension 80×50 feet in size. On this is to stand a seventy-foot tower crowned with a battery of 50 immense searchlights — a portion of the famous “Scintillator” which was a highlight of the San Francisco event. Colored lenses powered by electric motors, were constantly passed in front of the searchlights creating a rainbow “scintillating” effect which could be seen for 20 miles in all directions.

Mr Burt announces that Torpey & Edwards of San Francisco will duplicate the racing coaster, dance hall, “Third Degree”, merry go-round, and bathing pool features, which they had in San Francisco and and adding as a brand new feature, an aviation field from which passengers will be taken aloft in real aeroplanes.”

Edward Wasserman of San Francisco will have the popcorn, peanut and candy concessions, as at the exposition. The Worthington Company, of Elyria, Ohio, will have the roller coast chair privileges. The Van Kummel Company of New York City will install an elaborate device to be known as the “Witching Waves.”

The total investment in the project would run, says its promoter, into several hundred thousand dollars. “The outlay of the Bayside Land Company alone approximating $200,000.” (That would be almost $4 million dollars in 2010 money). But these numbers have to be placed in the perspective of carnival hucksterism. At the San Francisco fair, one of Burt’s exhibit operators, Fred Thompson of Coney Island fame, touted the expense of his “Toyland Grown Up” as one million dollars, although the official budget was only $150,000.

By January 1916, all tenants on the Seal Beach ocean front property were given notice to vacate immediately, while the newspapers were reporting that ‘Most of “Zone” to Come Here’ and soon nearly 200 men were working daily to rush completion of the Zone by May 1, its scheduled opening day, although Burt acknowledged that “all construction records will have to be broken” to get the project completed by its projected date.  The project included nearly a mile of bulkhead in the Seal Beach sand, and nearly 4,000 feet of concrete walk  between the Main Street Piere and Anaheim Landing at a uniform width of 38 feet.
The foundation was also poured for the Wilcox Casino at Anaheim Landing, which was expected to be one of  the showpieces of the new resort.

But an even bigger showpiece would be the two huge pavilions on either side of the pier entrance.  The one on the west housed the two-story Jewel City Cafe, an elegant dining establishment which could seat 500.  The Bowling alley in the old pavilion was modified to have a tank  containing freshly caught fish and lobsters, and guests were given a net and the opportunity to catch one’s own fish to eat that night.  The restaurant also had two rooftop gazebos, where guests could enjoy a 360-degree view of the pier, the beach and the other surrounding features.

The pavilion on the east side housed a bathhouse with a 90×80 foot plunge and 1,000 dressing rooms for bathers.  Built over the bathhouse was a dance pavilion with room for a 30-piece orchestra and a dance floor which could hold 800 couples.

The grand attraction would be the “racing coaster” named “The Derby.”  Built at a supposed costs of $100,000, it duplicated the one at the Panama-Pacific Exposition  and was two blocks in length, extending from 10th to 12th Streets.  With a track length of nearly three miles, it was proclaimed as the “largest, longest, fastest and most costly roller coaster on the Pacific Coast.”

On March 5, Burt announced plans for a $50,000 ice rink, to take advantage of the ice skating craze “which has struck Southern California the past few weeks.”

That same day, David Combs and James Blyler, who had recently purchased the Seal Beach Inn from Phil Stanton, announced plans to begin construction on a cafe and dance hall on the main floor and that additional space would be added to the upper floors.  Another company, the White Amusement area, started sprucing up the resort area at Anaheim Landing.

Things still looked great as the Scintillators arrived from San Francisco on February 12.  But two weeks later things started getting complicated.  On Feb. 16, Judge John C. Ord resigned from the City Council (Board of Trustees).  Whatever issues were behind this stayed out of the press, as a new City Council was elected in March, but then in May, the issue came out.  Members of the City Council objected to a plan to close the alleyways along the beachfront and give title back to the Bayside Land Company for their proposed expansion.  The issue was first tabled and then vanished from official agendas.

Then on May 22, the LA Times reported that Phil Stanton addressed the City Council and declared, ” We have made Seal Beach and we can break it!” when the Council refused to return to the company the alleyways leading to the ocean through beach-front property, as per original agreement.

“This town has been asleep for ten years and we are just awakening it from its deep slumbers, “continued Mr. Stanton. “Whether it shall grow and develop depends on you people… unless other action than has been taken here tonight is indicated by your honorable  body, we shall immediately suspend all our operations here.”

The Trustees reconsidered their motion and passed action which apparently met with the approval of Stanton and his partners.

Just before this, on May 12, the Jewel City Amusement Company was faced with a strike by carpenters working on the new roller coaster.  Forty workmen demanded they be paid in cash and not company checks.  The company owners were “thunderstruck” and “at first inclined to believe” this was a joke, as their checks could be readily cashed at a nearby bank or store.  Realizing it was not joke, the forty strikers were summarily fired and new workers were hired.

Crawford Field in Seal Beach
Seal Beach - Crawford Field - the growth of the Joy Zone contributed to the establishment of aviation in Seal Beach. At first planes took off from he smooth beaches, but later Crawford Field was located just north of Anaheim landing, northeast of the intersection of PCH and Bay Boulevard. The original Glide'er Inn can be seen on the southeast corner of the intersection. After the Navy purchased the land in 1944, the Glide'er Inn re-located further north on PCH to where Mahe now stands.

One of the by products of the buzz around the construction of the Joy Zone was the growth of aviation in Seal Beach.  Still much of a novelty, the aeroplane companies depended on the cash generated not only from performing stunts for crowds but by providing rides to paying customers.  The Times reported on June 13, 1916 that not only were four aviators already located at Seal Beach, but a new company, operated by Malcolm and Allen Loughheep (later Lockheed), were “seriously considering locating their hangars on this beach, with a view of establishing a hydro-aeroplane passenger-carrying business this summer, the first one of its kind in Southern California.  They are also figuring on conducting a seaplane aviation school on then side.” The Times also noted that Malcolm Lougheep, the younger of the two brothers, has had a checkered aviation career.  He operated in China just before the outbreak of the European war and later under General Calles of the Carranza forces in Mexico.

Finally, on July 1, only two months delayed from the projected opening date, the new Joy Zone opened to much fanfare, hoopla, and marketing dollars.   At 10am, with bands blaring, Governor Robinson in Sacramento pressed a button and the new resort opened its midway. “thousands of people flocked to the bathing beach, Hawaiian surfboards were taken out, and the mile and a half long promenade was crowded with spectators,”  all wishing to enjoy the new “Coney Island of the Pacific.”

Over the first weekend it was said 40,000 visitors enjoyed the attractions of the Joy Zone — the rides, the coasters, the concessions, restaurants and bands and a variety of daredevil acts which which over its first summer would include parachute drops from a height of 200 feet by Charles Broderick; hot-air balloonists like Wayne Abbott who would drift over the ocean and jump into the sea;  Stunt pilots like Joe  Bouquel doing spiral loops and dives, figure eight slides and upside down flights — sometimes at night illuminated by the Scintillator lights.  The daredevil antics were not limited to males.  Miss Tiny Broadwick jumped  from an airplane at some 3,000 feet of elevation and parachuted safely to the beach.  And at safer elevations — sea level, the Hawaiian activity of surfboard riding  had one well-publicized fan of the sport in “Miss Mary Reeves, a young society girl of the Jewel City.”  The Times added that devotees of the sport now number “scores.”

Stanton and Burt pulled out all the stops.  String ensembles, the Venetian Orchestra, electric wheel chairs brought from the San Francisco Exposition, “Sunset Dinners” every Tuesday night at the Jewel City Cafe.  They even helped with the construction of the new Seal Beach Airport, with seven large hangars and an aviation school — located northeast of the Pacific Coast Highway at its intersection with Bay Boulevard (now Seal Beach Blvd.)

Almost immediately after the official opening, cafe owners began petitioning to extend the closing time from 12:30 to 2am.  “We cannot operate without the patronage of the Los Angeles “cafe goers” and “these lovers of the night life will not travel the long distance to Seal Beach unless they can stay until the small hours of the morning.”

While the majority of the town was comfortable with allowing the serving of alcoholic beverages, they were apparently not in favor of a totally “wide open” town.  Stirring things up was the approaching dedication of the town’s first church, a Methodist Church on Main Street.   The Times noted “the majority of its members are largely members of other churches in Long Beach and Santa Ana and they came into Seal Beach with the avowed intention of fighting the liquor element.”

Fatty Arbuckle (left), Al St. John, not identified, and Buster Keaton (far right)

August 19 was Movie Day when “nearly 2,000 movie actors descended on Seal Beach for a day of revelry, arriving early and staying late.  Participating studios were Universal, Signal, Chaplin, Horsley’s, Morosco, L-K-G, Fine Arts, Selig, Keystone and a large group from the Balboa studios in Long Beach.  Well known names included Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand,  Henry King.

The tourist season, which ended in mid-October, was considered a good one for the Bayside Land Company and its affiliated Jewel City Amusement Company.  The former said it was committed to spending another $15,000 for more concessions for the resort, but first the issue of closing times had to be dealt with.

Mayor James H. Blagge was the one most strongly associated with the earlier closing time, and he was quite opposed to extending it to 2am.  His method of running the meetings caused two more trustees to resign , and others asked for Blagge’s recall, including community pioneer, John C. Ord, the city’s first mayor who just five months earlier had resigned from the council (and thus as mayor) was now campaigning to replace his replacement.


Seal Beach's Main Street in 1917. A reference to help our allies can be seen in the sign at the front right.

Ord accused Blagge of criticizing his age, and challenged the Mayor to race “sixteen miles to Anaheim, each man to have a fifty-pound anvil strapped to him.”

The Bayside Company backed Ord’s candidacy, saying their new  $15,000 investment was contingent upon Ord being elected.   Once again the Bayside forces prevailed, and on April 21, 1917 Mayor Blagge was recalled by a vote of 133 to 87.  Ord was elected in his place with 127 votes.  All but 17 registered voters cast their ballots.

Immediately after the election, noted restaurateur Gustav Mann purchased the Jewel City Cafe at “Seal Beach by the Sea.”

The new resort opened its second season on Memorial Day 1917 Weekend by hosting an Allies Day Celebration.  The second season was much like the first.  Seal Beach and the Joy Zone became a hangout for stars like Fatty Arbuckle and Theda Bara who either worked at the Balboa Studios in Long Beach or lived on the Long Beach shoreline.  When Buster Keaton, who got his start in Arbuckle’s unit, was drafted and going to be sent to France with his unit, Arbuckle and others threw him a lavish going away party at the Jewel City Cafe.  Mack Sennett shot another “Sela Beach Bathing Beauties two-reeler”

The annual Seal Beach Bathing Beauties Parade - were held in cooperation with the Mack Sennett Studio which recorded the events for posterity -- and its bank account

Ironically, Phil Stanton who had fought and lobbied hard to get a good road built from Los Angeles and Long Beach to his Seal Beach resort, did not view the effort to allow people to continue to motor to Sunset, Huntington or Newport Beaches in a similar light.  The latter communities had to petition the Orange County supervisors to force Seal Beach to repair a soft spot in the road which made it difficult for people to continue driving down the coast.

The 1917 season was considered even more of a  success than its predecessor, but 1918 started off with gloomy news — the passage of the Volstad Act, which would put Prohibition into place in January 1919.  Faced with that deadline looming over their heads, the Bayside Land and Jewel Amusement companies tried to bring new business to the seaside resort — including motorcycle races, and a predecessor to the Wings Wheels and Rotors event which featured “antideluvian motor cars (one piloted by screen notable Fay Tincher)  and airplane gymnastics put on by aviators of the Cecil B. DeMille organization.  The whole event, free to the public, was produced by the Scream Club of Los Angeles, which was “largely composed of photoplay (movie industry) people.  On the committee for the event were representatives from the Chaplin studio, the Louis B. Mayer Productions and the Goldwyn Studio.  The club put on a second event in late June 1919, which featured

“airplane and flivver flights, stunts to last from afternoon to moonlight dancing, razz, jazz and shimmy dancing, aquatic sports with lots of pretty bathing girls, Mack Sennett’s beauties, rivalry in costumes for sun and sea bathing, a galaxy of peaches from all parts, and cheery blasts from bands and everything.”

All these activities made it on to the screen in such motion picture classics as The Seal Beach Bathing Beauties of 1917, 1918, etc.

But the joy was soon to go out of the Joy Zone.  The combination of prohibition, automobiles, and competition from other resorts (Santa Monica, Venice, Redondo, and Newport) which were closer to population centers  was too much for Seal Beach.  Not helping matters was the fact that until the 1920s Seal Beach still did not have a sewer system and only two miles of paved streets.

The Joy Zone remained open but crowds were much smaller.  Concessionaires did not renew their leases.  Gustav Mann put the Jewel City Cafe for sale in 1919 and moved on.  Movies were still made in the area on occasion — most notably, the crossing of the Red Sea sequence from Cecil B. DeMille’s original Ten Commandments and The Wanderer, a prodigal son re-telling by director Raoul Walsh that featured some Babylonian orgies shot at a castle constructed at a cost of $25,000 by Paramount craftsmen over the period of a month.   Stars in the latter movie included William Collier, Greta Nissen, Tyrone Power, Sr., Wallace Beery and Hawaiian surf legend Duke Kahanamoku (making us wonder if he taught Babylon heartthrobs Hammurabi or Nebuchadnezzer how to hang ten). But the movie crowd had mostly by now deserted Long Beach for Hollywood — the Balboa Amusement Studios had closed up.  One big reason for this was the discovery of oil in Signal Hill in 1921.    The field, the largest discovered in the United States up to that time, caused oil wells to sprout up on either side of the Newport-Inglewood anticline which ran from the Huntington Beach Mesa northwest thru the Bolsa Chica mesa, Marina (or Bullet) Hill in the Seal Beach, the Los Cerritos wetlands (which had been worn down by the ocean-seeking San Gabriel River and Coyote Creek) ,  Bixby Hill, Signal Hill, Dominguez Hill, Baldwin Hills and Cheviot Hills.   The oil made a lot of money for local residents and the local economy but the thousands of derricks dotting the hills and the wetlands were unsightly and smelly.  Some tourists still came, but in nowhere near the numbers they had in previous years.

Stanton and the Bayside Land Company continued to advertise heavily in the Sunday papers.

“Seal Beach. The most favored resort of the south coast — a live, modern growing seaside city invites you… Now is the Time to Buy and Build… Lots as low as $600.”

But the town did not grow appreciably.

The Jewel City pavilions attracted a different clientele.  The public demands during Prohibition made the coves of Anaheim Landing and Alamitos Bay a favorite for rum-running smugglers.  And the once-glamorous  accomodations at the Joy Zone hotels would be cited for allowing prostitution on their premises.

The pier began to decay.  By the mid-1920’s Phil Stanton had by now officially moved from Los Angeles and made Seal Beach his official residence, but that was not to last.  Either overwhelmed or disillusioned he changed his primary residence from Seal Beach, and in 1928 built a “13-room house surrounded by five landscaped acres” and 15 acres of citrus in west Anaheim (on Manchester Avenue at Brookhurst) — a home which is now the site of Fairmount High School and is on the national register of historical places.  The city of Seal Beach ended up filing suit against the Bayside Land Company over the pier which disuse and storms had turned into an eyesore and danger.  Stanton ended up signing over rights to the facility.

Stanton stayed involved in politics — which seemed to be his first love.  Throughout the teens he stayed involved in the state Republican  committee, and was even the state delegate to the National Republican committee in 1916.  As mentioned earlier, he worked closely with the Los Angeles Times and the Southern Pacific to “Get Johnson,” to take control of the state Republican Party back from the Progressive movement led by Hiram Johnson.

He was very active in the successful 1930 gubernatorial campaign of James Rolph, Jr., and the following year he was appointed to the board of the State Highway Commission.  He used this position and his past prestige to soothe some bad relations between Long Beach and Orange County water interests. feelings arrange, and he continued to lobby for the interests of the business and communities on the Orange County coast — efforts that paid off with the 1933 opening of the paved highway between Newport Beach and Dana Point.  He placed the crown on the Queen of the Highways at that ribbon-cutting ceremony and also helped cut the ribbon for the dedication of the Harbor Boulevard bridge over the Santa Ana River.

He remained a walnut grower at his ranch in Brookhurst, now west Anaheim — and his brother-in-law, Edward O’Sullivan was the head of the Los Angeles Dairymen’s Association.

Stanton was thought to be near death in 1934 due to some toxic poisoning, but he rallied and returned to public life soon after.  In February 1941, his colleagues at the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles honored him as one of its 25 longest-serving members.

In mid 1943, Stanton sold his Anaheim mansion and returned to his home in Seal Beach at 101 Ocean Avenue.  The founder and force behind Seal Beach’s founding and its first fifteen years passed away at his oceanfront home after an illness of several months.

He left behind his wife his widow Grace C. O’Sullivan Stanton, two sisters, Mrs. Carrie Thompson and Mrs. Otto Weimer, both of Los Angeles, and a city that is till one of the little jewels of the Southern California coast.

3 thoughts on “Philip A. Stanton – Part III — A new city, the Joy Zone and the not-so-Joyous zone”
  1. What a fantastic article this is. You’ve discovered so much about Stanton that I didn’t know.

    I was under the impression Stanton had son named Jack Stanton, born around 1918. In an oral history, Longtime resident Joan Stegman mentions Jack’s teaching her to surf in Anaheim Bay around 1935. Sadly, Joan recently passed away, so we can’t double check with her. To add further to the mystery, there is no son listed in the 1930 census at the Stanton address.

    One quibble I can’t resist making. The photo of Buster Keaton, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and Al St. John, was not from a film made at Seal Beach. I don’t have my Arbuckle DVDs handy, but I believe this is a still from The Cook, which filmed exteriors at the original Pike in Long Beach. This was the last film Keaton and Arbuckle made before Keaton left for the army.

    Hats off to you and your research!

  2. What a fantastic article this is. You’ve discovered so much about Stanton that I didn’t know.

    I was under the impression Stanton had son named Jack Stanton, born around 1918. In an oral history, Longtime resident Joan Stegman mentions Jack’s teaching her to surf in Anaheim Bay around 1935. Sadly, Joan recently passed away, so we can’t double check with her. To add further to the mystery, there is no son listed in the 1930 census at the Stanton address.

    One quibble I can’t resist making. The photo of Buster Keaton, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and Al St. John, was not from a film made at Seal Beach. I don’t have my Arbuckle DVDs handy, but I believe this is a still from The Cook, which filmed exteriors at the original Pike in Long Beach. This was the last film Keaton and Arbuckle made before Keaton left for the army.

    Hats off to you and your research!

  3. Mr. Strawther,
    My father’s aunt was Phil Stanton’s wife, Grace O’Sullivan Stanton. They did not have any children. I periodically do a Google search on Uncle Phil and that’s how I came upon your article. I possess two large scrapbooks of clippings that belonged to him and they make for entertaining reading. Thanks for a great article.

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