About a month ago, the new owners of the Clairville Plumbing & Heating compound, which sold for $2.1 Million on 5/25/2022, applied for a demolition permit for the rare all-metal Standard service station on the west side of the lot. Because 1659 W. Colorado is on Eagle Rock’s main drag, the posted notice immediately attracted attention—ratcheting up to alarm as windows and doors were removed.
Concerned community members raced to research the station’s history and listing as a California state resource in the Survey L.A. database, helped organize an emergency Neighborhood Council hearing, and contacted AQMD, LADBS and the City Council office in a successful effort to halt the illegal demo activity.
As of August 30, 2022, there is still no approved permit to do anything to what is likely the oldest service station in Los Angeles and one of the earliest in the nation. The new owners have said that they want the station gone for a surface parking lot, a use that might not even be allowed under the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan. But their demolition permit is still moving through the system.
Okay, but what’s the rush? Eagle Rock is proud of its place on the Mother Road, and feels a deep affection for the station. If the new owners aren’t interested in caring for it, there’s a process by which they can seek permission to demolish or to move it. And at the same time, the community can use the policy tools that exist to seek municipal landmark designation, preservation in place and city oversight of any changes sought for this treasured local landmark.
As the National Parks Service notes, there are a lot of great public and private options for adaptive reuse of an historic service station: they’ve been turned into ice cream stands and art gallery/shade structures, park restrooms and drive-thru coffee shops. It’s been suggested that this one could become a passenger shelter on the new BRT commuter busway, which will run along Colorado on the old Route 66 alignment.
Then there are the policy failures: Silver Lake Boulevard lost its streamline moderne Walter Dorwin Teague-designed Texaco service station when councilman Mitch O’Farrell opposed its landmarking with vague promises that if moved offsite, it would one day become a snack stand on the Los Angeles River. We’re not holding our breath, though the new apartment building project on the site is humming along.
Up in Eagle Rock, which still has its historic Standard service station, we’ll be paying close attention. Watch this space as we join the efforts to not just save and repurpose the station, but to celebrate and explore this time capsule neighborhood packed with mom and pop businesses in vintage buildings that tell a cool story of the western terminus of Route 66 in Los Angeles!
And if you’d like to join preservation pal Damian Sullivan on vicarious explorations, tune in to his Roadside Detective video series.
Update September 7, 2022 – Illegal demolition activity is observed inside the Clairville Plumbing & Heating building adjacent to the historic Standard station, with materials dumped around that building.
Update, September 12, 2022 – Today, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission deemed as complete this landmark application submitted by Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society and researched and prepared by Steven Luftman for the Jay Risk Standard Oil Co. Service Station at 1659 W. Colorado Blvd. in Los Angeles. Despite the pending demolition permit pulled by new owners Paradigm Collaboration LLC (aka Work Realty Advisors), all activity must be halted until a determination is made if the building will become a protected city landmark. The first CHC hearing is October 6, 2022 at 10am. The agenda and call-in info are here.