Located at 800 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, California, the Villa Riviera Hotel was constructed in 1929. At the time, it was the second-tallest building in Southern California after Los Angeles City Hall. Architect Richard D. King won a grand prize at an international contest for the design of the sixteen-story building. Construction costs exceeded two million dollars. Its architecture savors the majestic Tudor Gothic, with a marked resemblance to the Italian and French Renaissance, all blended into a composite grace of line that overshadows any single decorative detail.
Groundbreaking began in late 1927, with the opening planned for December 1928. Due to various delays, the official opening actually occurred in April 1929. The building was not originally planned as a hotel; rather, it was built as residential stock co-operative (or "own-your-own") apartments and was known only as the Villa Riviera. It didn't become a residential hotel until after the Great Depression when the finance company took it back and sold it to a hotel concern. It then became known as the Villa Riviera Apartment Hotel.
Later, Joseph M. Schenck of Twentieth Century Fox bought the hotel for his ex-wife Norma Talmadge to manage. Apparently, they were still close, on good terms, and one might imagine that he took pity on her since her silent film career was over and she probably had little else to do. Various rumors (mostly perpetuated by real estate agents) run rampant about the Villa having been built for or owned by Talmadge, however, careful research shows that she had control of it for less than a year and made few (if any) payments on the loan. Over the next 20 years, the Villa went through several different hotel owners, until the mid-1950s, when the units were again sold off as stock co-op residential apartments. The association was converted to condominium titles in 1991.
In 1996, the Villa Riviera received recognition as a National Historical Landmark.