The story of the Rankin family is typical of the early settlers of Long Beach. Dorothy Bembridge’s grandmother owned the Van Dyke rooming house on Ocean Avenue (now Boulevard) opposite the famed Virginia Hotel.
Her family began spending summers in Long Beach at the Van Dyke, beginning in 1906, visiting from their home in Cambridge, Nebraska. Long Beach was booming as a beach resort, with the beautiful bathing beach and the entertainment zone of the Pike as key attractions. Dorothy’s father, Thomas Rankin, admired the Green residence opposite Knoll Park so much, that he commissioned a similar Victorian design for their residence in Nebraska in 1914. After Mr. Green died, the house went through a rapid succession of five owners. When the house became available in 1919, Mr. Rankin purchased it and moved his family here permanently. Dorothy Rankin Bembridge grew up in the house and maintained it as a single-family residence in its original condition during her lifetime.
The family was very involved with music. Her mother was a pianist, as Dorothy herself became. Her father had a good singing voice, and her brother Neil played the accordion. Thomas Rankin was in business as a distributor of dairy products.
Dorothy Rankin Bembridge (1910-1999) was an important part of the cultural history of Long Beach. She is particularly associated with music, as an accomplished pianist and music teacher. As a pianist, she gave concerts locally, regionally and in Europe.
She began her teaching career in 1934 at Edison Junior High, then joined the faculty of Jordan High when it opened in 1936, where she was chair of the music department. She played the organ at the dedication ceremony for the Municipal Auditorium on September 25, 1945. She participated in the Women’s Symphony Orchestra as an organist. Her brass quartet played at the San Francisco World’s Fair in 1939. She is listed in the International Who’s Who in Music, Mid-Century Edition (1950). She became a teacher at Marshall School in 1961, where she remained until her retirement in 1968. Additionally, she had a long association with the Long Beach Musical Arts Society, where she served as President since 1978.
Mrs. Bembridge also appointed by the City to be a charter member of the Cultural Heritage Commission, then a Committee. Her house was one of the first City Landmarks to be designated by the City. She was passionate about bringing public attention to the important contributions of Charles Rivers Drake to the history and development of Long Beach. The house is named for her married name, because her second husband, Charles Bembridge, helped her to purchase her brother’s share in the property after they inherited it from their parents.
Dorothy continued to live at the house until 1999, just short of her 90th birthday. The preservation of the Bembridge house is dedicated to her memory and to her affection for the history of Long Beach.