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.
Update, October 6, 2022 – At its hearing today, the Cultural Heritage Commission unanimously voted to take the Jay Risk Standard Oil Co. Service Station under consideration as a protected landmark. You can see our live tweets of the hearing here.
On October 17, 2022, the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council held a Special Meeting to discuss preparing a letter in support of the Historical Cultural Monument designation for CHC-2022-6496-HCM Jay Risk Standard Oil Co. Service Station.
On December 1, 2022 at 10am, the Cultural Heritage Commission was scheduled to hold its second Zoom meeting to vote on landmark status for the Jay Risk Standard Oil Co. Service Station. The staff report recommends that they vote yes! (PDF link). But on November 30, developer owner Nick Wing asked for the matter to be postponed until February 16, 2023.
Also on November 30, 2022, developer owner Nick Wing briefly appeared in a short Instagram video with Evan Lovett (lainaminute). In it, he presents himself as seeking to “preserve” the building he has been seeking to demolish for parking spaces by potentially moving it away from Eagle Rock, to the Standard Oil building in downtown where it was manufactured more than a century ago (it was never in operation there). This peculiar idea shows a lack of respect for the Eagle Rock community that has been fighting to save the building, as well as a lack of understanding of the potential National Register significance of this rare Route 66 survivor on the historic Mother Road.
On February 16, 2023 at 10am, the Cultural Heritage Commission held its second Zoom hearing on the Jay Risk Standard Oil Co. Service Station, and voted unanimously to recommend it be landmarked. The next stop will be City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, where it is expected to pass due to support from the CHC and the council office. You can read our live report on the hearing on Twitter or Facebook.
On February 17, 2023 the preservation campaign was featured on local KCAL-9 News, with a representative for the council office stating that it was expected to be approved at City Council. On February 23, local KTLA-5 News erroneously reported “Eagle Rock gas station designated as LA Historic-Cultural monument.” Soon, we hope!
On February 24, 2023, an application was filed with Los Angeles City Planning for “change of use from plumbing shop and apartment to barber shop and offices with warehouse.” (Case files ENV-2023-1297-CE and DIR-2023-1296-SPP-DRB).
On May 16, 2023, PLUM will vote on the landmark nomination. Members of the public can send written comments of support or do so in-person; there is no option to call in. [Update: Jay Risk passed PLUM and heads to full City Council next!]