As you walk toward the Villa Riviera, you get a sense of its majestic Tudor Gothic and French Renaissance influence. Nine menacing gargoyles and one eagle-like statue are perched atop the 16-story landmark. And given the Villa Riviera's pointy steeple and pitched, green copper roof, it's easy to see why the building is the most recognized structure in Long Beach, Calif.

Designed by architect Richard D. King, the Villa Riviera was completed in 1929. King won a grand prize award for his design of the Villa Riviera at an international contest. According to the building's Web site (, it cost about $2 million to build the structure. Located at 800 Ocean Blvd., the Villa Riviera was considered the second-highest building at that time to the Los Angeles City Hall.

The high-rise served as a hotel in its early days and then was converted into apartments and, later, condos. The Villa Riviera also has some Hollywood connections: One of the building's original owners was Hollywood silent film star Norma Talmadge. The actress co-owned the structure with her then-husband, Joseph Schenck, who also had ties to the film industry.

Today, the Villa Riviera features 132 residential units. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

–Abby Garcia Telleria is a freelance writer in Costa Mesa, Calif.