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19th Century Historic Santa Monica Building Catches Fire

Firefighters extinguish fire at the Gussie Moran Building⁣

By Sam Catanzaro

Tuesday night the Santa Monica Fire Department (SMFD) put out a fire that had broken out in a historic 19th century Santa Monica house.

On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at 7:04 p.m., the SMFD responded to a reported structure fire at the historical Gussie Moran Building, built in 1887, located at 1323 Ocean Avenue.

According to the SMFD, the first arriving engine company reported a three-story building to the rear with an exterior fire that was extending to the third floor. Firefighters made an aggressive offensive attack and knocked down the exterior fire. Interior fire crews found extension of the fire on the third floor and quickly opened interior walls knocking down all fire within 16 minutes.⁣

A total of 27 firefighters worked to control the fire, responding with five Engines companies, one truck company, and a Battalion Command team to mitigate the emergency. The Santa Monica Police Department provided traffic control. Los Angeles City Fire Department Station 63 provided backfill assistance at the SMFD’s headquarters.

The Gussie Moran Building. Photo: smconservancy.org

There were no injuries to civilians or fire personnel.⁣

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to the SMFD.

The Gussie Moran Building is notable for both its Victorian architecture and its famous resident—Gertrude “Gorgeous Gussie” Moran.

Born in Santa Monica, where her family had owned the house since the 1890s, Moran took up tennis early, winning several singles and doubles championships. Moran would go on to achieve a career-high ranking of number 4 in the world.

Moran, who passed away in 2013, lived in the house until 1986.

Gussie Moran. Photo: Facebook.

“The Gussie Moran House is a remnant of the time when Ocean Avenue was first developed as a residential street. It is remarkable both for its Victorian styling and as the longtime residence of tennis champion, Gertrude Moran. Santa Monica was a small town of perhaps a few thousand, most living in the downtown area, when this house was started around 1887. Though many structures built in early Santa Monica were hastily erected and architecturally undistinguished, lots on desirable Ocean Avenue filled up with imposing Victorian homes,” the Santa Monica Conservancy writes about the house on their website. “The unexpected combination of a traditional house and a very untraditional woman make this landmark truly memorable.”

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