Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tahiti Apartments - Torrance, California

The Tahiti Apartments opened their doors for business on Saturday, October 14, 1961 in the SouthBay suburb of Torrance. Did you note the description of the interior courtyard?...Sounds like a great place to live.

The two story, $190,000 Tahiti Apartments were built by Gilbert Sellan in 1961 and included 18 units. Each unit was rented as a completely furnished apartment with “color-coordinated interiors and striking Polynesian modern d├ęcor.”

Wow, these apartments were pre-decorated with tikis inside and out!

Gilbert Sellan (left), prominent Southern California builder, is presented with a Gold Medallion plaque, as evidence that his new ‘Tahiti’ apartment building meets high standards of the electric industry.

Check out those two large tikis in the background. Directly behind Mr. Sellan (striped sport coat) stands a 10 foot tiki. Over the left shoulder of the representative of Southern California Edison you can see another 10 foot tiki with a ‘rootball’ headdress. The eyes of the tiki are just above his shoulder and the nose, mouth and base continue down his back and legs. Those are fantastic tikis and made quite and entrance to the ‘Tahiti’!

Torrance and the SouthBay area of Los Angeles was a hotbed of tiki activity in the 1960s. If you lived at the Tahiti, you could have stopped in at the Tiki Kai in Lawndale for dinner (just 3 miles north) and then visited the Polynesian in Torrance for after dinner cocktails (just 2.5 miles south). Both the Tiki Kai and the Polynesian featured live nightly entertainment, ….ahh, that would have been the life of a swinging bachelor!

Here is a Google StreetView picture of the Tahiti Apartments taken June 2011.

The ‘Tahiti’ name has long since been removed from the building, but the font style of the address looks like it may provide a clue as to what it may have looked like.

The two 10-foot entrance tikis are long gone from this 50 year old complex, but I wonder if there is still anything thing hiding inside of that courtyard, there used to be??? Any Southern California tikiphiles up for some urban archeology, drop me a photograph if you find anything.

Good Hunting!

Tahiti Apartments (1961) – 21109 Reynolds Drive, Torrance, California.

Update (March 2012) - Link to a follow-up post with new pictures.


  1. Thanks for your continued envy-inspiring research!

  2. Thank you for sharing this summary.
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  4. Wow, what a small world. I live a few blocks away. I'll try to swing by this week to check out the courtyard. If the residents don't mind, I'll snap a few photos.
    Thanks for an awesome post.

  5. As a kid, that was on my route to the shopping center on Anza and "Leland's House of Humor" --later behind the The Sands Bar in the strip mall next door.

  6. Also, I met and interviewed the owner of the Polynesian and (which became the Latitude 20) 20 years ago. We Torrancians could see Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman and Don Ho perform there about once a year (the owner booked at Cesar's Vegas and would book them if they agreed to play his place in Torrance first). The owner gave me a film of a 1955 luau there. Why go to Gardena when we had what Leroy and Bob at Oceanic Arts called the best Polynesian Restaurant in the world?!

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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