REGINALD F. INWOOD, GEORGE T. GAYTON,
AND THE GAYTONIA APARTMENTS

Article by Louise Ivers 2007

Reginald F. Inwood's name first appeared in the Long Beach
Press-Telegram in 1928, as architect of the Art Deco Belmont Shore Theater at 4918 E. 2nd St., corner of St. Joseph Ave. George T. Gayton was the contractor. The theater, completed in 1929, was owned by H. A. and W. C. Woodworth and was built especially for "talkies." The building included seven stores on the first floor and apartments above. It reputedly cost $120,000.The exterior of the theater was painted blue-green and had geometric ornamentation. A portion of this décor can still be seen on the exterior, but the murals inside that featured Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, a snake charmer, and exotic birds have been removed.

 

In 1930 Reginald Inwood lived at 5659 Bayfront on the peninsula in Long Beach. That year he designed the Gaytonia Apartments at 212 Quincy Avenue, owned by George Gayton and named after him. Gayton installed a huge neon sign atop the building that can be seen from afar. The Gaytonia resembles a huge chateau in Normandy of the late Medieval to Renaissance period. The distinctive entrance is a pointed arch supported by columns constructed of "art stone." Art stone was actually cast concrete which contained ground up stone as an element. By 1930 hand carved stone was too expensive and cast architectural details were the norm. Above the entrance to the Gaytonia are battlements, which look like widely spaced teeth, held up by corbels, which are a type of brackets. These are flanked by twin turrets with slit windows. The front door has leaded stained glass in diamond patterns and a shield in the center, which accentuate the medieval effect of the building. Similar leaded glass windows are found on either side of the door and also in the apartment interiors. Above the entrance is an oriel, a half hexagonal projection with windows on three sides. One large round tower is on the left side of the façade and another rectangular tower with a hipped roof is at the back of the structure. Art stone quoins, made to look like rectangular blocks of cut stone, are seen at the corners of the Gaytonia and a half-timbering effect, also cast art stone, is evident on the third story of the façade. Although the front of the building is stuccoed, the sides reveal cast concrete walls incised to resemble stone masonry. Along with the faux half-timbering are arches shaped like parabolas surrounding the third story windows, which are the steel framed casement type that open inward.

Cast art stone reliefs along the wall at the side entrance include fleur de lys and cross motifs, referring to the building's French influence. The basement windows have ogee arches, two curves and a point at the center, and relief shields with lions, castles, and a knight in armor. The building is U-shaped with a courtyard in the center and at one time a heated swimming pool was located on the next lot. The courtyard and upper terrace were used for sun bathing and gymnasiums were available for the tenants. There was an on-site laundry and a subterranean garage, still used by the inhabitants of the apartment complex. The Gaytonia cost about $100,000 to construct and had 27 units, which were completely furnished and provided with maid service.

The interior motifs complement those on the exterior of the building. The lobby retains its original aspect, with a large art stone fireplace on one side which has a tile hearth and stylized flowers. It apparently once had a gas fixture, but it has been blocked up, as have the fireplaces in the individual apartments. Sconces on the lobby walls have rampant lions emblazoned on shields and three pointed arches opposite the entrance lead to hallways on either side. "Beams" are visible on the ceiling and they frame plaster panels which contain circular reliefs of floral elements. The floor is a series of wooden planks with round pegs. The original furnishings remain in the lobby and include chairs with carved arms and tables with painted tops. The floor lamps have wrought iron stands. Statues of roaring lions are placed in niches on either side of the front door.

The hallways throughout the Gaytonia have crown moldings with bands of plaster reliefs below them. These include swirling vines, acanthus leaves, hanging flowers, and tassels in a rather classical style. Pointed arches on corbels lead to other hallways placed at right angles to each other. Each apartment door has a pointed arch and a cast metal plate with more vines and leaves, rampant lions on either side of a shield, and the number of the unit.

Apartment #206, which is typical of the wonderfully detailed interiors of the 1930s, has an entrance hall with a built-in telephone shelf and a pointed arched door. The living room has a fireplace and pointed arched niche and paired swinging doors with stained glass diamonds and shields set in leading, similar to the lobby entrance, leading to the dining area. The kitchen has original green tiles and built-in cabinets, a milk delivery door opening onto the hallway, and a built-in ironing board. Like the kitchen, the bathroom has green tile walls and floor, a corner cabinet, a pedestal sink, a bathtub and shower combination with original faucet and handles, and wooden towel bars. The bedroom has wall sconces and walk-in closets with shelves and drawers. Functional radiators are found in all rooms that provide steam heat for the renters' comfort in the winter.

George T. Gayton sold the Gaytonia in 1956 and on 12 October 1965 a notice of a trustee sale of the building appeared in the Los Angeles Times. It was described as a "4 story steel-concrete structure, French Normandy design. Unique spacious apartments." In 1957 Gayton was the contractor for the dormitory and dining hall of the Pacific Bible Seminary at 4835 E. Anaheim St. in Long Beach, whose architect was
C. M. Deasy.

Inwood designed a number of Methodist churches throughout southern California. The earliest of these was built in El Segundo in 1927, while others were constructed in Lynwood in 1928, in Inglewood in 1941, in Canoga Park in 1959, and in San Diego in 1962. Inwood also created an addition to the Community Presbyterian Church in Laguna Beach in 1937, where he established a second office. The First Methodist Church in Inglewood was designed in a Spanish Colonial revival style, but the later buildings, the Chapel of St. John at Valley Methodist Church in Canoga Park was decidedly modern with geometric massing. The First Methodist Church located at Mission Bay in San Diego had parabola shaped concrete shell vaults with rows of curved clerestory windows projecting from the sides. At the time he designed this church complex, Reginald Inwood was living in San Francisco and was a church building consultant with Perkins & Will of Chicago.