The Tamale Preservation Campaign

Once upon a time, Southern California was dotted with the daffiest buildings ever slapped up in a frantic, entrepreneurial weekend: shaped like dirigibles and orangesice cream tubs and puppiesflower pots and hot dogs, tipisold shoes, oil cans, owlschili bowlscoffee pots, bowler hats, whales and donuts, they beckoned to passing motorists with a powerful whimsy.

The Tamale, located at 6421 Whittier Boulevard in unincorporated East L.A., is one of the Southland's last remaining examples of programmatic architecture, and in April 2013, it was listed for sale at the teardown price of $459,000. Gravely concerned that this unique structure might be demolished, Esotouric's Richard Schave and Kim Cooper launched a preservation, public policy and information campaign, calling on County Supervisor Gloria Molina to help ensure that the Tamale is preserved, despite the lack of any formal preservation policy in her district. Interested parties were encouraged to contact Supervisor Molina with their thoughts, and many did.

Status report: Supervisor Molina has expressed her intention to do what she can to help ensure that the Tamale is preserved. On May 28, 2013, the County Board of Supervisors passed the Mills Act, which provides tax breaks for property owners who wish to preserve historic structures. Still to come is a formal Historic Preservation Ordinance, expected to be drafted later in 2013. The Los Angeles Conservancy has written a letter to the real estate agent handling the Tamale property, informing him of the site's historic significance. We have learned that the agent is informing potential buyers of this significance. However, the property remains on the market, and at risk of demolition should the current or future owner wish to clear the site.

Tamale on Whittier Boulevard put up for sale (L.A. Observed, 4/24/13)

East Los Angeles's Tamale-Shaped Building is Up For Sale (Curbed, 4/24/13)

Redevelopment might eat East LA's giant tamale building (KPCC Off-Ramp, 4/25/13)

LA giant tamale building's future uncertain (ABC-7 News, 4/25/13)

Supervisor Gloria Molina promises to help save East LA's giant tamale building (KPCC Off-Ramp, 5/1/2013)

County Preservation Effort Could Save East LA Tamale Building (Curbed, 5/1/13)

Peel Away the Layers to Find East L.A.’s Giant Tamale (EGPNews, 5/2/2013)