Saving South Los Angeles Landmarks: Googie, Gill & Governor Gage On Demand Webinar

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Los Angeles County is vast, with 88 cities contained within its nearly 5000′ square mile sprawl. Too often, historic preservation efforts are focused on famous landmarks in dense neighborhoods popular with tourists: Hollywood, Downtown, Pasadena, Silver Lake.

But there is architectural beauty and rich history to be found in every corner of Los Angeles, and it’s in the less traveled sections between the freeways where preservationists can both do the most good and be happily surprised by new discoveries.

This provocative Esotouric webinar works its way south down the Alameda Industrial Corridor into Bell Gardens, Santa Fe Springs and Downey, to explore off-the-beaten-path landmarks that have had enormous influence on the cultural life of Southern California and the world beyond.

Turning the predictable notion of a Los Angeles architecture webinar on its head, this virtual excursion goes into areas not traditionally associated with the important, beautiful or significant, raising issues of preservation, adaptive reuse and urban planning. The locations all speak to the power, mutability and reach of Southern California as a creative engine.

Featured sites include:

• The Clarke Estate, Santa Fe Springs (Irving Gill, 1919) – a modernist masterpiece set in 60 acres of bucolic citrus groves, the house was almost immediately rendered uninhabitable by the polluting effects of a nearby oil strike. Long forgotten, it was taken over by the city and transformed into a wedding venue, house museum and community garden, the Clarke Estate is the nearest thing we have to Gill’s legendary Dodge House (1916, demolished 1970). Joining us for this segment is Margaret Bach, founding president of the Los Angeles Conservancy, to talk about her work restoring Gill’s Horatio West Court Apartment complex (also 1919).

• Harvey’s Broiler, Downey (Paul B. Clayton, 1958) – Harvey’s was a glowing stop on the mid-century South L.A. teenage car cruising circuit, its international influence on fashion, design and pop culture immortalized by Tom Wolfe in his essay “The Hair Boys.” That would be enough to grant Harvey’s a spot in this webinar. But Harvey’s is also a landmark of historic preservation activism. After a section of the beloved drive-in was illegally demolished, the community demanded it be rebuilt exactly as it had been, and held their elected officials accountable to ensure that happened. Today, as Bob’s Big Boy, the rebuilt Harvey’s Broiler remains a favorite stop for cruisers, families and preservation people who need a little boost in the throes of a tough campaign. If Harvey’s can come back, so can (fill in the blank).

• Casa de Rancho San Antonio – Henry Gage Mansion, Bell Gardens (c.1840 with additions) – One of the oldest adobes in Los Angeles County, this Bell Gardens landmark was a home for the Lugo family, whose land holdings spread into the city of South Gate, named for their rancho’s southern border. Later clad in redwood by California’s 20th Governor, Henry Gage, this fascinating courtyard home on the banks of the Rio Hondo River is now entirely surrounded by a mid-century trailer park. We’ll share our years-long efforts to make the designated California landmark accessible to the public, and share its fascinating history of cultural and demographic changes, from Spanish land grants to the dust bowl to suburb subdivisions.

Join Esotouric, L.A.’s most eclectic sightseeing tour company, for a time travel trip through the South Los Angeles historic preservation trenches, to discover some fascinating and unexpected landmarks and the colorful characters who made history within them.

This webinar is an illustrated lecture packed with rare photos that will bring the landmarks of South Los Angeles County to life. 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.


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.

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