Seal Beach offers $10,000 to buy Red Car Museum

The Red Car Museum is pictured above as it appeared Tuesday morning, Dec. 29. Painting of the structure appears to be continuing. Photo by Charles M. Kelly

Status of Historical Society lease of city land may be on the Jan. 11 council agenda

The city has made a formal offer to buy the Red Car Museum for $10,000 in a Dec. 22 letter addressed to the Seal Beach Historical Society. If the city doesn’t hear back, the status of the lease will be on the Jan. 11 City Council agenda.

In the meantime, painting appears to continue on the Red Car structure.

As previously reported, the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car Museum owns the iconic, re-purposed railroad car located near the Mary Wilson Library on Electric Avenue. The city owns the land on which the Red Car stands. The Historical Society leases the land for $1 a year.

The physical condition of the Red Car Museum and the Historical Society’s leadership have been issues for at least several weeks. (The Sun reported on the condition of the Red Car in August 2019 as well as this year.) Recently, the leaders of the Historical Society sent a letter to the city asking officials to wait until the after the holidays to discuss the matter further.

In a Dec. 22 letter addressed to Marie and Charles Antos of the Historical Society, City Manager Jill Ingram wrote that their request to address the lease and the organization of the non-profit “is not productive.” City Attorney Craig Steele provided the Sun with a copy of Ingram’s letter on Monday, Dec 28. The Sun requested a comment from the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car Museum.

According to Ingram’s letter, the previous letter from the Historical Society asked for a delay without accepting any of the proposals spelled out in a November letter from the city. (You can read the text of both letters at Those proposals included the reorganization of the Historical Society.

As reported last week, the Historical Society asked that the discussion be delayed until after the holidays.

“As the Red Car deteriorates, there simply is no time left for additional delays without the organization’s acceptance of one of the City’s proposals. At this point, without a substantive response, we plan to place an item on the January 11, 2021City Council agenda for consideration of whether to give the required notice to terminate the agreement for location of the Red Car on City property,” Ingram wrote.

“The City does not want to follow that path. We would much prefer to implement a mutually-beneficial solution to preserve the Red Car, and we hope you will provide an affirmative response to our proposals prior to that date,” Ingram wrote.

“Although you did not substantively respond to our previous suggestion that the City should purchase the Red Car, please consider the following more specific offer: The City of Seal Beach hereby offers to purchase the Red Car from the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car Museum in an as is/where is condition for the total sum of $10,000 to be paid to the Seal Beach Historical Society/Red Car Museum, subject to a standard purchase agreement and release. This agreement would, of course, require that the organization remove ‘Red Car Museum’ from its name,” Ingram wrote.

“We would welcome a positive response prior to the January 11, 2020 City Council meeting and would, of course, allow additional time to implement one of the options we have proposed. Absent some agreement by that time, however, we have no choice but to recommend that the City Council take action to remove the Red Car from City property,” Ingram wrote.

To see the text of the city manager’s letter,visit…storical-society/