The historic Varden Hotel, a Downtown Long Beach Boutique Hotel, has a rich and eccentric history, which makes it a true downtown Long Beach Landmark. Originally built in 1929, the 35-room Varden Hotel has been a prominent visual feature of downtown Long Beach for 80 years.
Named after a colorful and eccentric circus performer who hoarded jewels, Dolly Varden lived in San Jose but had an admirer who lived in Long Beach and wanted her closer. The legend states that Dolly Varden’s admirer was a wealthy man, somehow related to the Bixby family. He bought the hotel for her and she lived on the top floor in a penthouse. Dolly Varden died in the 1950s and is buried next to her lover near San Francisco.
The 1935 sign on the roof of the hotel was given city landmark status in 1995 and will remain in place after the renovation. The sign’s landmark status was partially granted based upon the message on the sign, evoking the nostalgic flavor of Long Beach’s past as a prominent beach resort town. The remaining basis for landmark status is its silhouette and shape, the typeface of the letters, and the use of neon and metal supporting struts. These are all typical of “thirties signs,” and therefore, historical significance.