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Saving the Sentinel Trees on Old Bunker Hill, Then and Now

August 17, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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

Our guests are Bunker Hill historian Nathan Marsak, musician and writer Annette Zilinskas and distinguished horticulturist Dr. Donald R. Hodel.

Everybody who loves Los Angeles history knows the tragic tale of how the Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill was destroyed in the biggest eminent domain land seizure ever, and about how the last two mansions on the hill were moved to Heritage Square in a failed preservation attempt.

But did you know that at least one of the grand old Victorian era sentinel trees that witnessed the growth, decline and eventual demolition of Bunker Hill is still alive in Downtown L.A.?

If for any reason the registration page doesn’t appear, just click this link.

In this webinar, we’ll introduce you to Morty, the grand old Moreton Bay Fig that was planted near the corner of 4th & Hill Streets around 1890, and grew up into a magnificent specimen, before it too was displaced by the redevelopment agency. You’ll see how Morty looked over the decades in rare photos from Nathan Marsak’s personal collection and learn how and where it was moved in 1981—shortly after appearing as the non-human star of the Ralph Waite film “On the Nickel,” with its poignant theme song by Tom Waits.

But when we recently went out to visit, we found Morty showing its age, with dead limbs, straggly growth and other plants stealing its nutrients. You’ll hear how we’re working with the property owner to help get the tree back to full health and advocating for an historic marker so everyone knows what a special tree Morty is!

Morty was saved once and with a little love and time can be saved again.

But what about Sunshine? That’s the name Downtown denizen Annette Zilinskas has given to a lonely, neglected Queen Palm that stands proudly above 2nd and Hill Streets on the dirt patch, the last piece of unflattened Bunker Hill topography, on a parcel marked for redevelopment for the Colburn School’s expansion.

Annette will share how she discovered Sunshine on a pilgrimage to the endangered Bunker Hill dirt patch, fell in love with the pretty, neglected tree and reached out to Nathan Marsak to learn if it appeared in any historic Bunker Hill photos.

Nathan will share the history of the dirt patch on which Sunshine grows, and Don Hodel will talk about how old the tree could be, and how it’s managed to survive with little or no care. And we’ll hear Annette’s sweet tribute poem to Sunshine the Queen Palm and old Bunker Hill.

Can Sunshine, too, survive Bunker Hill redevelopment? Yes—with YOUR help!

Tune in to learn about two very special Bunker Hill trees and how you can be a part of their happy futures. And we’ll take your questions about old Bunker Hill and its changing landscape.

Watch this short webinar when it airs at 7pm on August 17 (or later, on demand), then go out and visit Morty and Sunshine and take a selfie with both these great Bunker Hill sentinel trees!

This webinar is an illustrated lecture that will bring the history and future of this landmark structure to 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.


August 17, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


213 915 8687
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