Biography of B.C. Mayo, founder
The text below has been taken straight from William Mill Butler’s Beachwood Directory and Who’s Who, 1924.
Life Work of the Founder of Beachwood
Bertram Chapman Mayo, son of Noah and Eveline R. Mayo, was born March 23rd, 1865, in Boston, Massachusetts, in the shadow of the historic Old North Church.
He attended the public schools in the old North End until his eighth year, when, with his parents, he moved to the Back Bay District and was graduated from high school.
Giving up a contemplated course in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the lure of his first business offer, he started in with the wholesale clothing house of Whitten, Burdette & Young at a salary of two dollars per week.
His ability as a salesman was soon evident and he was sent “on the road” with success, being called shortly to a larger field, increasing both territory and salary rapidly.
While in his early twenties, he had earned the enviable reputation of being one of the cleverest clothing salesmen taking a line out of New England. His keen love of competition and zest for making a goal led him to overtax his strength and he was obliged to forsake traveling and for a while tried to content himself in a less strenuous venture with a friend in Boston.
Chafing from the mental and physical inactivity of the narrower field, he decided to try journalism as an outlet for his ideas in advertising and, accordingly, joined the publicity department of a chain of daily papers.
In this field he gradually worked west with California and its curative climate as his objective, and eventually called to the circulation department of the Oakland Enquirer. In this capacity his genius and energy had full swing, and in a very short time the increase in the Enquirer’s circulation proved the value of advertising in the daily, to the merchant and to the public.
Mr. Mayo soon became general manager of the Enquirer and at the time of the San Francisco fire and earthquake, the Enquirer issued the first extra and immediately established the first relief bureau where the distressed and separated were united and the homeless made comfortable.
It was about this time that the premiums were popular with the daily papers and, among other things, the Enquirer made it possible through the coupon system for the family man to acquire his Saturday night box of candy by subscribing for the Daily Enquirer.
The response to the love of sweets was so instantaneous that Mr. Mayo induced the leading theatre manager of Oakland to present souvenirs of candy to the ladies on what are regarded as “off nights” in the profession and the box office pronounced it a success.
The idea of giving to the people a lot of land for an insignificant sum of money as a premium was conceived at this time through a jest.
Hoping to strike oil, Mr. Mayo with a business friend acquired a strip of land in the well-known “Red-woods” north of Oakland. Failing to produce a gusher, the beautiful forest land retrieved itself by proving a productive, restful fishing haunt for a group of congenial sportsmen.
It was after the return of a jolly party with their catch to an old camp in the woods, that Mr. Mayo and his dreams and schemes were made the butt of the chaff and jokes. “B.C.,” said one, “you have fed candy to the children, given theatre tickets to the mothers and clocks to the fathers, if they will only buy your daily sheet; what next to add another figure to your circulation, a house and lot?” “Just that” came back the quick reply. “I’m going to give away these red monsters of mine for a premium.” Retorts were drowned in a roar of derisive laughter.
Instantly, however, the possibility of the idea seized Mr. Mayo’s fertile imagination, matured rapidly and the jest became a fact. He bought out his partner’s interest, worked out every detail of financing that he might virtually give away his “red monsters” and thus through the Enquirer, “Casadero Woods,” the smallest, yet the most beautiful of all his developments, was launched, for the trifling figure of $5.40 per lot.
Mr. Mayo undertook nothing unless he gave himself wholly to the project, thus it was not surprising after “Casadero Woods” was a reality, that he sought the milder climate of Los Angeles for a rest.
To a man of such productive energy, rest meant but a change of work. With an ideal of his future developments, his avowed life work, possessing him, he was soon casting about for acreage.
Thoroughly imbued with the idea of bringing recreation homes within the means of the mass of people, the young man with a family, and knowing the pitfalls of the average land development, he determined that the spot must be accessible to a large centre, healthfully, located and possess natural beauty.
Resigning from the management of the Oakland Enquirer, Mr. Mayo had his heart set upon securing a certain tract in the beautiful canyon section of Beverly Glen, adjacent to Los Angeles. Seeking the owner, Smith by name, he found him to be a sort of rough-diamond character, about town, an ex-Klondike millionaire of inferior presence but keen mind, with large holdings in realty. Indifferent as to the selling, he refused to parlay on the first two approaches. At the third interview, Mr. Mayo unfolded his whole scheme, even his finished plans of financing the deal and dwelt on the tremendous benefits to all concerned. His enthusiasm and assurance so appealed to Mr. Smith, that he yielded, declaring Mr. Mayo was a crazy man and would make a failure. Full of confidence, the latter spent his last dollar buying acreage and options. Immediately the publicity heralded the price per lot and general plan, the unknown developer was branded as a fraud.
Local real estate men joined hands to hamper him in every conceivable way, prevailing on the banks to withhold credit, watching for technicalities on which to arrest him, in short giving him the hardest fight for existence he ever had. Determined not to be pushed to the wall, his dogged perseverance and ingenuity overcame all obstacles. Lots sold with a rush and option payments were met promptly. Smith’s curiosity and doubts gave way to ardent faith and admiration and he announced publicly that he would back Mr. Mayo for any amount.
In the fact of such prestige, hostilities ceased, credit was abundant and through the medium of the Sunset Magazine, Beverly Glen was populated, and is today connected with Los Angeles by trolley.
Two years later, “Lakewood,” Michigan, was developed through the Chicago Evening Post. This was probably Mr. Mayo’s largest venture, drawing on Chicago and environs for its colonists and is now a flourishing resort with hotel, department store, motion picture theatre and several miles of traction running through the property.
About three years later “Beachwood,” a restful, healthful spot among the pines, an arm of Barnegat Bay, at Toms River, New Jersey, became a reality. The splendid comradeship that has obtained among the bungalow and lot owners was evident from the opening.
The efficient management and fostering and carrying on of Mr. Mayo’s ideals, was a constant source of satisfaction to him and it was an open secrete that of all his developments “Beachwood” was a sort of pet.
Then came “Brown’s Mills in the Pines,” an artistic bungalow colony easily accessible from Philadelphia, with every indication of becoming an all-year-round resort.
Each development had its own peculiar problems, its hardships and tangles, ere one was fairly launched, search had begun for acreage, with just the right requirements for the next. Before it was certain he could even buy the titles to a location that suited him, Mr. Mayo had gone over the whole tract and visualized his finished development. No architect, no landscape engineer, and no publicity expert was called in consultation. Mr. Mayo’s was the master mind that conceived and planned and pushed to a successful finish every detail from the style and location of the club house and essential buildings down to the pins in the cushions on every dresser. It was his hobby that the improvements promised in his literature should not prove to be in a hazy, uncertain future, but all must be in readiness on opening day. The lot owner or prospective lot owner must find the cozy club house heady to make him feel at home, a gathering place where he could meet and mingle with his fellow-men. The big, glowing hearth must fill his heart with the desire to linger, and its ever present message, “The Hearth Fire Burns for You,” must convey to him a sense of possession.
Realizing too that if a man is to be thoroughly comfortable and at peace, he must also be fed – so – always there was an inviting, airy dining-room and a good dinner served at nominal price.
Little families might wish to revel in the freedom, close to nature, over a week-end, before the bungalow was ready, so also there was always a “Tent City,” or comfortable Lodge ready to gather them in for a nominal rate.
In keeping with his desire to give the maximum of freedom, comfort and enjoyment to his people, the entire waterfront was always reserved for their playground. Intense interest in the welfare of his fellow-men kept Mr. Mayo at his chosen work, when many times the tremendous burden of details seemed overwhelming.
Keenly sensitive, preferring the background, kind, severe, thoughtful, critical, generous to a fault, he was an unusual combination of attributes that made him a genius – a man apart.
Old friendships were sacred and his personality will always live in the memories of those who knew him well.
Mr. Butler was, as you can see, very taken with flowery, epic prose.
I should add that this is probably the most we know about B.C. Mayo. Besides our organization, Dr. Susan Douglass, professor of history at Monmouth University, is working on a research project investigating his life and the beginnings and history of Beachwood and other newspaper-promotion communities.
Any further help or information is as always greatly appreciated to help expand our knowledge base.