Richard Lewis, Project Manager of the Psychic Temple

Richard Lewis is the Controller/Project Manager of JRVD, which is handling the redevelopment of the Psychic Temple. I visited Richard shortly after the project, which was put on hold for over a year due to California’s budgetary crisis, began to pick up steam once more.

PT: You’re revisiting the Psychic Temple for the first time in a year or so. Any new thoughts after so long?
RL: The outside of the building is so special with the Romanesque brick work and large wood windows. However, you forget that the interior of the building is so special. Yesterday, I showed the inside to some people who hadn’t seen it before and loved seeing it through their eyes. The light and volumes of the space are really beautiful. It is an exciting project.

PT: Do any details stand out?
RL: The basement is special with its access under the sidewalk and the Coke bottle skylights. I can’t wait to see it built-out. There is also a large original skylight in the center of the building that is very beautiful. When the building is completely restored all of the exterior details will really stand out and it will make a difference in defining that neighborhood. When you think about what’s going on in Downtown Long Beach, such as the emergence of the Promenade and new businesses opening, it is fantastic to think how this building is going to play such an important role in extending the Broadway corridor. One seminal project can make a big difference.

PT: Do you remember the first time you saw the building?
RL: Yes. I have always loved the building from the outside. We toured the interior of the building in 2009 and immediately saw its potential. We made a proposal to the City to redevelop the building it in a way that celebrates the history and makes it contemporary at the same time.

PT: It has good bones, right?
RL: It has beautiful bones. When we started to work on the front, we found cast-iron columns that had been hidden for years. And when we went through historic records and plans we found that there once was an arch where the new entrance to second floor will be.

The retail spaces on the ground floor have been reconfigured so many times over the years that most of the historical elements on the ground floor level have been loss. So instead of trying to recreate it, we will be using a more modern glass treatment. We want the ground floor to shine, so when you drive down Broadway it will create excitement.

The Romanesque brickwork and all the giant windows on the 2nd and 3rd floors will be restored.

PT: How precise is the restoration process. Do you use Q-Tips?
RL: Not Q-Tips, but we definitely pay attention to the details. For the brick work alone, we have an experienced crew cleaning and re-pointing the mortar walls brick-by-brick.

PT: People think Long Beach’s Art Deco buildings are old, but this was built before the earthquake.
RL: Yes, the building was built in 1905. We actually have the original newspaper article announcing the construction of the “Psychic Temple.” The building did suffer damage from the 1930 earthquake. There were originally finials along the top parapet of the building that fell off during the earthquake.

Long Beach has lost a lot of its iconic historic buildings, so we feel a responsibility to bring this building back to life in a responsible way. There’s satisfaction in knowing that once the restoration is complete that this building will last another 100 years!