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The Bizarre B’nai B’rith Lodge Demolition Threat (Free L.A. Preservation Talk #1)

June 30, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

This webinar has already aired live, but you can still watch the recording. To sign up for this free webinar, enter your name and email address and click the “Register” button BELOW. If for any reason the check out page doesn’t appear, just click this link.

Join Esotouric, L.A.’s most eclectic sightseeing tour company, for the first in an occasional series of free live webinars exploring timely historic preservation issues and how you can get involved.

Our guests for this program are two of the southland’s most dedicated independent scholars and historic preservation activists: Nathan Marsak (aka The Cranky Preservationist) and Steven Luftman (Art Deco Society of Los Angeles).

Nathan and Steven will share the strange tale of the B’nai B’rith Lodge (S. Tilden Norton, 1923-24) at 846 South Union Avenue, a beautiful and historic building that the city of Los Angeles’ Office of Historic Resources refuses to even consider making a landmark… after City Planner Ken Bernstein personally solicited private citizens to prepare and submit a landmarking nomination!

Steven wrote this nomination which is presently stuck in City Hall limbo, and you can read it HERE.

This program features the debut of a new Cranky Preservationist video, introducing you to the history of the B’nai B’rith Lodge (from Jewish community center to union hall to Korean church) and exploring its time capsule neighborhood which is almost entirely owned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Cranky Preservationist will introduce you to B’nai B’rith and the other significant buildings on this quiet block in the Pico Union District, and advocate that property owner Catholic Charities take the green and fiscally responsible path of adaptively reusing the historic building, while expanding onto its enormous surface parking lot.

During the live conversation to follow, Steven Luftman will describe how he came to take on the project of researching the layered history of B’nai B’rith at city request, and what he learned about the building and the many fascinating characters who have used it over a century.

And we’ll explore the city’s bizarre new tune: first it asked people to landmark the building, then it claims that due to a poorly written and often misunderstood set of State and Federal laws, owner Catholic Charities just has to say “we’re against it!” and the landmark documents can’t be accepted.

We think B’nai B’rith Lodge is a great building worth saving, that it’s cheaper and greener to preserve it than to demolish it, and that the city is wrong about the law. And we think Steven’s landmarking nomination deserves better than to be filed away unseen forever in a Planning Department file cabinet.

So let’s talk about it—and ask the city to reconsider, and let the B’nai B’rith Lodge landmark nomination be heard!


• STEVEN LUFTMAN (Art Deco Society of Los Angeles). Preservationist and community activist Steve will talk about his successful campaign to designate the derelict Fairfax Theatre as a protected national and local monument, how Historic Preservation Overlay Zones can preserve affordable housing and good buildings, and the redevelopment threats facing the Carthay Circle community.

• NATHAN MARSAK (R.I.P Los Angeles / The Cranky Preservationist). Half architectural historian, half performance artist, Nathan wields his acid wit to shine a light on the lies of the urban density movement, contrasting dense, green, attractive historic structures with the upzoned file cabinets for humans that too often replace them. He’ll highlight some of his favorite neighborhoods and the multi-family housing threatened by the wrecking ball, and remind us that while we can’t go back in time and save Bunker Hill, it’s not too late for Pico-Union.

This webinar is an illustrated lecture that will bring the history and future of this landmark structureto life, while inspiring you to look around your own community for ways you can help to keep old places around with fresh new uses. And you’ll find the look of an Esotouric webinar is a little different than your standard dry Zoom session, with lively interactive graphics courtesy of the mmhmm app. So tune in and discover the incredible history of Los Angeles, with the couple whose passion for the city is infectious. Can’t join in when the webinar is happening? You can tune in later, though you’ll miss the opportunity to ask questions in the chat.

FYI: Immediately upon registering, you will receive a separate, automated email containing the link to join the webinar. The webinar is reliable on all devices, Mac, PC, iOS and Android.

About Esotouric: As undergraduates at UC Santa Cruz, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave inexplicably hated one another on sight. (Perhaps less inexplicably, their academic advisor believed they were soul mates). A chance meeting 18 years later proved much more agreeable. Richard wooed Kim with high level library database access, with which she launched the 1947project true crime blog, highlighting a crime a day from the year of The Black Dahlia and Bugsy Siegel slayings. The popular blog’s readers demanded a tour, and then another. The tour was magical, a hothouse inspiring new ways for the by-then-newlyweds to tell the story of Los Angeles. Esotouric was born in 2007 with a calendar packed with true crime, literary, architecture and rock and roll tours. Ever since, it has provided a platform for promoting historic preservation issues (like the Save the 76 Ball campaign and the landmarking of Charles Bukowski’s bungalow), building a community of urban explorers (including dozens of free talks and tours under the umbrella of LAVA) and digging even deeper into the secret heart of the city they love.

Rights and permissions: By attending an Esotouric webinar, you acknowledge that the entirety of the presentation is copyrighted, and no portion of the video or text may be reproduced in any fashion.


June 30, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


213 915 8687
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