Willmore City/Drake Park Historic District

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By Jim Danno

I’m writing to let you know about a great little community, adjacent to Downtown Long Beach, called the Willmore City/Drake Park Historic District.  It was not only the first Historic District in the city, but also the birthplace of Long Beach.  It contains the largest concentration of late 1800 to early 1900 houses in Long Beach. When I think of my neighborhood, the image is of an era when our homes were built, during a time when quality mattered, when craftsmen had the talent and patience to build a beautiful house that would stand strong – a family home for generations to come.

There is something that is special about living in a historic district; the old houses remind us of a period that many present-day neighborhoods never knew, or have long forgotten.  It seems easier to be neighborly when you are living in a historic home. I don’t know if it is because of all these homes or because there are so many long-time residents, but amazingly, despite being in a big city and close to downtown, Willmore City has never lost that neighborhood feeling.

Our multi-cultural neighborhood still has “real people”.  You see children playing outside or their parents sitting on the porch and everyone walks everywhere.  Neighbors will drop by just to say hello, or leave a thoughtful gift by your front door.  I know people, not just across the street or next door, but those who live around the corner or down the block – just like things used to be.  Willmore City is a place where people will volunteer to help a neighbor in need.  My partner, Kathleen, and I enjoy sitting on our porch and greeting our neighbors as they pass by – perhaps just as the original owners of our home did, back in 1908.


7 Responses to “Willmore City/Drake Park Historic District”
  1. PAUL says:

    I’ve been living in New York City in a building with over 400 apartments for over 20 years. To this day, I still don’t know the names of many of my neighbors on my floor. Perhaps it’s time to change. Thanks for writing this Jim and for the positive inspiration. Paul

  2. avengedreaper says:

    I read the esssay and this says to me ” He really knows what he’s talking about, I my self live in long beach and think that it is very true that in a hirstoric district you will always find people that come out of their homes just to say hello, I most of the time see that the people of drake park historic district value their community they live in, therefore come together to make it an even better community to live in.
    Jim, you wrote this with passion! and all that you mentioned is all true!..

  3. diannetmcninch says:

    Jim Danno summed up my fabulous neighborhood to perfection! I have lived in the neighborhood since 1987, and occupy a home built in 1908. This home has one of those great front porches where neighbors will drop by for a visit, which always includes how we will continue to enrich the neighborhood we live in. Back in the late 1980’s we ran the Mexican Drug Mafia, the 10th Street S Gang out, and have educated slum property owners as to how to be good neighbors. Working together we have created a place where folks want to live.
    Thank you Jim, you are a treasure, I’m proud to have you as a neighbor!

  4. Jim-
    Thanks for representing! Great Essay!

  5. Jamie says:

    I think you depict the true meaning of what it is to live in a neighborhood. Your an inspiration to those that want to feel more at home.
    Loved the essay , great job dad!

  6. Patty says:

    Thanks, Jim! That’s exactly why I love Willmore City!


  7. Steven Willmore says:

    Maybe I need to move there and pretend my ancestor founded the town. LOL Looks like a nice place. Who knows. It may have been!