Esotouric’s Los Angeles Historic Preservation 2016 year-end list

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Gentle reader…

As we slam the door on 2016, it’s time for that annual Esotouric tradition: our very opinionated list of the past year’s Top Los Angeles Historic Preservation Stories.

Because preservation is never as simple as buildings being lost forever or rescued from the brink, the list is split into three sections: the Gains, the Losses, and those Bittersweet moments that hover somewhere in the middle, and keep us up nights. We hope you find the list by turns thought-provoking, infuriating and inspiring, and that 2017 will see some of the Bittersweets tip over onto the Gains side of the fence.

Los Angeles Historic Preservation Gains of 2016:

G1. Spinning Wheel: On a hot day in sleepy Arcadia, where the last Googie-style Van De Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery restaurant (1967) stands proudly on Huntington Boulevard, Denny’s executives were on hand to throw the switch on the restored, spinning windmill sign, a beloved local landmark brought back to life through the Quixotic efforts of former mayor George Fasching.

G2. Ciao, Bella: One of Downtown L.A.’s most pathetic landmarks, the long-deteriorating Bank of Italy headquarters (1923) at 7th & Olive Streets, has finally changed hands and is currently undergoing a complete restoration as a boutique hotel. And not a moment too soon: the colossal metal entry doors were dissolving from uric acid.

G3: High Lights: For years, sign geeks have looked with longing at the rusting cans of the twin Hotel Californian rooftop neons, tucked away behind the Mulholland fountain in Los Feliz. Then in May, one of the signs appeared atop a brand new low-income apartment house on the site of the old Californian. Beautifully restored by Paul Greenstein, it awaits a last piece of permitting before it can once again illuminate the sky over MacArthur Park.

G4: Overnight Sensation: When we learned that an especially handsome 19th century Boyle Heights duplex was threatened with demolition, we asked the internet to speak on its behalf. Within hours, a preservation promise was made to save the Peabody Werden house, and in July we got to see the old gal moved to a nearby safe haven.

G5: Native Sun: Just as it seemed certain that the modernist home that exiled Nobel laureate Thomas Mann built for himself in Pacific Palisades would be replaced by a bland McMansion, the German government emerged as its new owner, with plans for a literary cultural center in the spirit of Villa Aurora.

G6. Googie Redux: In an age when classic diners are an endangered species, what a neat surprise to hear that The Penguin of Santa Monica is being converted back from a boring dental office to a jazzy all-night restaurant.

Los Angeles Historic Preservation Losses of 2016:

L1. Iconic Absence: The Sixth Street Viaduct was the largest, last and loveliest of our city’s glittering necklace of landmark downtown bridges. Suffering from concrete rot, it needed to be replaced. Our friend Shmuel Gonzalez has documented the span’s sad last days, from grassroots gatherings to tumbling lamps. While common sense and the preservation community called for a full restoration, political forces chose instead an overwrought post-modern replacement. One day, years late and at tens of millions over budget, we’ll see it.

L2. Location, Location, Location: Usually it’s good news when an endangered piece of signage is carefully removed and placed in the care of an institution like the Museum of Neon Artbut not when that sign is as essential a piece of the urban fabric as the Sun-Lake Drugs facade. Preservation is place is better, and Silver Lake much less beautiful for its removal.

L3. Bad Taste: Under the guise of free “restoration” work, the city’s Rec and Parks Department encouraged interior decorators to run amok inside Wattles, Hollywood’s last grand mansion. The new look might appeal to the wedding planners who market the space, but historically, it’s a disaster.

L4. Hole In One: Who would have dreamed that that gang violence could take out an historic structure? RIP to the pretty little house on Pleasant Avenue (1901-2016).

L5. Lurid No Longer: When Charles Bukowski lived in the neighborhood, East Hollywood was the nearest thing to an L.A. red light district. Buk lamented “when you clean up a city, you kill it,” and a last bit of local color died hard this year when the owner of the Tiki Xymposium invested in a dull new sign.

L6. Eclipsed: Meanwhile, on Culver City’s vintage motel row, some lunatic tossed the lovely Half Moon neon in the dumpster.

L7. Tears Shed: Because developers saw no use for the Pacific Electric Trolley Shed in their new project, a cool relic of lost mass transit history went down. (The rail car that used to live there is mostly gone, too.)

L8. Adios: The quirky Casa de Petrol was kid sister to Sherman Oaks’ Casa de Cadillac dealership, and nearly unchanged from when James Dean was photographed filling up on the day he died. So naturally, developers smashed it to bits.

L9. Hamburgled: Downey folks treasure their original Stanley Meston-designed McDonald’s with its iconic golden arches. But in L.A., the arches were ripped out to make way for a smoky grill, and not much later, the whole building came down. Born 1957, died 2016.

L10. 99 and a Half Won’t Do: South Figueroa was L.A.’s original Auto Row, a zone of creative commerce where some of the world’s most exquisite vehicles were crafted and marketed. But you wouldn’t know that from the way the 99-year-old Hartwell Motor Company building was destroyed with zero public notice.

Los Angeles Historic Preservation Bittersweet Moments of 2016:

B1. Stringing Along: Generations of kids have had their minds blown at Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater. Though a city landmark, development threatens the vintage attraction. We think there’s room for puppets and people on the site.

B2. Where’s The Beef: Hyperactive PR buzz touted the return of La Cienega’s beloved Tail O’ The Pup stand, but it turns out the new owners didn’t actually restore the vintage programmatic building. That landmark is still sitting in storage somewhere while a food truck turns out fancy franks. Meanwhile, to the east, the world’s biggest tamale is also in mothballs. We’d like to see them both brought back into photogenic service.

B3. Pershing Problems: Everyone agrees that downtown’s Pershing Square needs work. While thousands of Angelenos would like to see John Parkinson’s 1910 park plan restored, a design competition left restoration off the table; the jury picked the only entry that ignored the past. The proposed redesign is unfunded, and the fate of the park’s historic monuments remains uncertain. And now Rec and Parks has embarked on a bizarre series of modifications to Ricardo Legorreta’s 1992 plan. Amidst all this chaos, a moment of peace: Parkinson’s great-great-grandson crafted a digital version of the lost landmark.

B4. Research Wrecked: The Port of Los Angeles Archives, recently celebrated in a book and granted a dedicated reference library, have been mysteriously removed to an open dockside warehouse. Despite public outcry, the officials charged with protecting these unique documents remain silent as to why they’ve been placed in harm’s way and research access halted.

B5. World’s End: Paramount Pictures is eager to redevelop its studio lot upwards, and despite intense negotiations with preservation groups and the city, refuses to guarantee the iconic RKO Globe sign will be saved.

B6. Main Drag: The last stretch of modest, independent businesses along Main Street’s historic Skid Row face an uncertain future, their historic buildings threatened with demolition by the parking lot company that owns the land.

B7. Pereira in Peril: City planner, Time Magazine cover boy, Hollywood’s idea of an architect, William Pereira never got his due from the critics. Now, a campaign seeks to raise consciousness about his work just as several important local projects are threatened and things get hot at the Cultural Heritage Commission meetings. Can LACMA, the L.A. Times and Metropolitan Water District be saved?

B8. Hot Spot: There’s just something charged about the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights. Wild times at the Garden of Allah, teens rioting over curfew restrictions, and now a politicized preservation battle pitting citizen activists and the Los Angeles Conservancy against developers and their pals on City Council. Lawsuits and accusations are flying as the battle to save Lytton (rhymes with kitten) Savings ramps up.

B9. Half Empty: Welton Becket’s Parker Center is an elegant modernist office tower, one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the city’s portfolio. In a rare move, the Cultural Heritage Commission itself is opposing civic bean counters by advocating for its adaptive reuse.

B10. Deco Inferno: In 1938, veterinarian to the stars Eugene C. Jones commissioned architects Walter Wurdeman and Welton Becket, in a rare collaboration, to design a Streamline Moderne animal hospital. Decades later, the neglected structure was hidden behind overgrown trees, and its provenance deliberately obscured by development-happy politicos. West Hollywood Heritage Project discovered the subterfuge, and have tirelessly campaigned to save this endangered landmark. We were encouraged when the Los Angeles Conservancy joined the cause and sued West Hollywood to compel preservation, then horrified when the back side of the “vacant” building caught fire, with a homeless man, known to the owners to be living inside, killed by smoke inhalation. Arson and murder investigations are ongoing, and the preservation fight continues on appeal. Despite recent tagging, the building is still gorgeous, and worth saving.

B11. Fallen Angels: One especially romantic scene in the new film La La Land pours salt in the civic wound that is the stalled Angels Flight funicular railway, rubbed in when a local rag called the regulators for a quote that killed the non-profit’s major source of funding. In the 1211 days since the public was permitted to ride, the lovely little landmark has suffered grave humiliation, yet it remains fully functional and eager to serve. If only the Mayor would help!

*      *      *

And that’s our report on the state of Los Angeles preservation for 2016. To see past years’ lists, click here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012. And to stay informed all year round, see our preservation page on Facebook, subscribe to our newsletter and visit the Los Angeles Historic Preservation Hotspots map, where you can find nearby trouble spots.

Our guided bus tours return in the new year with The Real Black Dahlia on January 7, on the crest of the 70th anniversary of Beth Short’s disappearance and an especially haunting date to walk in the footsteps of this fascinating and mysterious lady. This tour is nearly full, so reserve soon if you’d like to ride, then stay tuned for a 10th Anniversary Year packed with special events and surprises.

yrs,
Kim and Richard
Esotouric

Pershing Square is 150 Years Old Today!

On December 11, 1866, Cristobal Aguilar, the Mayor of Los Angeles, a town of about 5000 souls still recovering from the brutal upsets of the Mexican-American War, signed an ordinance concerning a swampy patch of land due South-West of the Plaza:

“Lots from Nos. 1 to 10 in block 15 of Ord’s Survey of said city are hereby set aside for the use of said city and the residents thereof as a public square, and the same is hereby declared to be a public square or plaza for the use and benefit of the citizens in common of said city, remaining under the control of the mayor and council of said city.”

It wasn’t much of a park, just a muddy, ungraded rectangle, 600 x 330 feet. But it belonged to the people of Los Angeles, and in time they would take to it with a passion that occasionally seemed beyond all sense and reason.

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The park would become lovelier, too, from the meandering Eaton plan of 1886 to John Parkinson’s classic axial design of 1910/31. And while it is not today such a beautiful thing, we still live in hope that the great park that was will one day exist again. (Sign our petition if you agree.)

So join us today in celebrating the sesquicentennial of Pershing Square, an auspicious anniversary we have not seen many of in this youthful municipality.

We rejoice with all the great departed Angelenos who have loved the place: “Roundhouse George” Lehman,  who planted the park’s first trees and carried water to them in oil cans, “Stoolpigeon Mary,” who spoke against a misguided plan to remove benches and trees, “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, who cared for the birds until a wicked unknown person killed her at the Hotel Cecil, Benny the Squirrel, whose antics delighted a generation (his end was violent, too), and uncounted soapbox speakers and Bunker Hill bench sleepers and pretty fellows cruising and children splashing in the fountain and writers who paused in the shade to study their fellow humans and work out some rough bit of plotting.

Long live our Pershing Square!

Because when you love Pershing Square there is always something new to learn, we close with a little gift from the archives: a rare trade card from an early business that faced the park from the 5th Street side. Opened in early 1895, the prominently-situated Pavilion Cyclery and Riding School did much to promote this novel mode of transport.

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A bicycling poem from February 1895

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A visit to historic Boys Republic, home of the Della Robbia holiday wreath (since 1923)

boys-republic-street-signEarlier this year, we had the opportunity to tour the historic Boys Republic school, situated on the Rancho Santa Ana Del Chino, near the modern cities of Chino and Chino Hills. (Here is an early ranch map, here a modern aerial view.)

It was on this site in September 1846, during the Mexican-American War, that Isaac Williams’ moated adobe ranch house was besieged and 24 Americans taken prisoner and marched to Boyle Heights. A canon stands as a war memorial just east of the school grounds.

Boys Republic is an extraordinary place, a largely undeveloped time capsule of the Californio era, as well as a functioning ranch, farm, educational facility (academics and construction trades) and seasonal cottage industry—the famous Della Robia Holiday Wreaths have been made here since 1923.

The lower campus features a master plan and buildings by noted Pasadena architect Myron Hunt, who married founding board member Virginia Pease and maintained a long interest in the school.

Since 1907, this progressive institution has offered troubled and neglected youth the opportunity to build self esteem, develop life skills and participate in a civic system based on self-governance. We were eager to see Hunt’s campus and the historic ranch buildings, and learn about how the school functions. Our visit coincided with preparations for the annual Friends of Steve McQueen Car & Motorcycle Show, a fundraiser honoring Boys Republic’s most famous alumnus, so we got to see some cool vintage vehicles, too.

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So as not to compromise the privacy of the students, our photos focus on parts of the campus that were unpopulated during our golf cart tour.

The northwestern portion of the site is dedicated to animal husbandry, with friendly inhabitants in the handsome old barns and corrals.grain-silo

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Unfortunately, Isaac Williams’ adobe ranch house does not survive. Nor does the house that Myron Hunt built for his wife in 1915. But as we drove out towards the site, something glittered inside an open barn door…

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Behind some dusty golf clubs was a magnificent wrought iron gate, no doubt part of Hunt’s project.

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Perhaps it stood somewhere near the old stone gateposts which formerly opened onto the southern border of the ranch.

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Close by is a horizontal plinth which formerly displayed the war memorial canyon before it was moved just off campus for easier public access.

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Randy, who has managed the Wood Shop for decades, gave us a tour of his neat domain…. wood-shop-proprietor-randy

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complete with vintage eye protection propaganda…

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and a quote from a Steve McQueen biography about how he was changed by his time at Boys Republic.

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We wrapped up our visit with a walk through the Della Robbia wreath factory, a series of functional buildings wrapped around the historic gym.

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Although the holidays were still six months away, the factory floor was humming with activity. We watched with fascination as the craftswomen swiftly loaded plastic rings with a mix of dried cones, pods and nuts, making a pretty festive scene inspired by the 15th century terracotta sculptures of Andrea della Robbia.

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On the wall, twin Santas display both sizes of the finished product.

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Just off the factory, we passed through a vintage fire door…

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…into a long warehouse with lofts packed with sacks and boxes of wreath fixings. (If we returned at this time of year, the buildings would be bustling with dozens of young men helping to make, pack and ship wreaths out to customers all over the country.)

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An ingenious triangular metal stand makes it easy to fill the recycled potato sacks with pine cones.

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Nearby, in the old gym, beautiful rafters support a complex system of hooks and conveyor belts, which carry completed wreaths to the shipping center for final packaging. It’s clear that, after 93 years in the business, Boys Republic has wreath production down!

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If you’d like to support the good work of Boys Republic, you can purchase a freshly-crafted Della Robia Holiday Wreath, and learn more about the wreath making process here.

Our thanks to Boys Republic Development Director and historian  Jerry Marcotte for the tour and the hospitality.

A little bit of the Dutch Chocolate Shop goes on tour at Pasadena Museum of History’s “Batchelder: Tilemaker” exhibition

These are heady times for lovers of the Arts & Crafts movement, as the Pasadena Museum of History celebrates the gift of Dr. Bob Winter’s incomparable Ernest Batchelder collection with a fascinating and eclectic show on his influential Arroyo pottery. Batchelder: Tilemaker is on view through February 12, when we’ll be hosting a special bus tour of the master’s Downtown Los Angeles tile installations.

Included in the exhibition are magnificent fireplaces and miniature salesmen’s samples, bookplates and business cards, corbels and plaster casts (from a horde used to shore up a Los Feliz hillside for decades, then miraculously recognized and preserved), even a virtual reality headset which lets you explore donor “Bungalow Bob’s” Pasadena home and garden, formerly Batchelder’s.

Dutch Chocolate Shop mural

But the piece we’re most excited about is the one we had a little part in bringing to the museum: one of the “lost” tile murals from Downtown’s landmark Dutch Chocolate Shop, removed in the mid-1980s when a door was opened between the DCS and the contiguous Spring Arcade building. Geographically, we understand that it made sense to take this mural down. But with its prominent back wall placement, Batchelder ensured  it contained one of the most commission’s most charming scenes: a young couple in Dutch garb walking a handsome hound. Hidden from view for decades, the unrestored panel has a proud central spot in the new exhibition, and we hope you have a chance to see it.

When you visit, leave a time for the amusing show across the hall, Cast & Fired: Pasadena’s Mid-Century Ceramics Industry. If you’ve spent much time in antique malls or thrift shops, you’ll recognize the kitschy novelties that emerged by the thousands from Pasadena kilns: scrawny hillbillies, cartoony woodland creatures, exotic Asian figurines and stylized owls. It’s a small revelation to see the work of specific designers clustered together, along with select sketches and color studies. Look especially for the wee set of ceramic fascist figurines by Twin Winton and the Roselane flat cat.

Metropolitan Water District landmarking vote reveals recent gutting of Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission

PETITION: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Fill the Vacant Seat on the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission.

On Thursday afternoon, September 15, 2016 an SRO crowd gathered in room 1010 of Los Angeles City Hall for the final hearing in the historic-cultural monument consideration process for William L. Pereira’s 1963 Metropolitan Water District campus at 1111 West Sunset Boulevard.

Presentations were made by Pam O’Connor and nominator Yuval Bar-Zemer (in favor) and Bill Delvac and Jenna Snow representing the property owner (opposed). Members of the public spoke about the property: two dozen in favor of preserving it (among them, the architect’s daughter Monica Pereira), two opposed. Bar-Zemer also presented the Commissioners with a pro-landmarking petition containing more than 600 names.

The Commissioners acknowledged that it had been a long day—we heard that security had already been called during the contentious Miracle Mile HPOZ agenda item, and they also were called during this item—and that they believed that determination on the MWD property was problematic due to alterations, some done by the prior church tenant in the 1990s, others done just a few months ago by the property owner apparently (though the Commissioners did not say this) in an attempt to render the property less suitable for landmarking.

When the vote came, it split 2-2, Commission president Richard Barron and Commissioner Jeremy Irvine somewhat reluctantly opposed to landmarking, Commission vice president Gail Kennard and Commissioner Barry Milofsky in favor.

chc-agenda-header-with-5-commissioners-shown-september-15-2016We had noticed through the whole afternoon that Commissioner Elissa Scrafano wasn’t at the dais. But it wasn’t until the vote was tabulated that her absence was explained, to the great dismay of the many citizens who had taken half their day to attend what they believed would be a fair hearing, with an informed Commission vote determining the fate of the endangered mid-century campus.

Although her name appears on the agenda for the hearing, in fact Elissa Scrafano is no longer a member of the Cultural Heritage Commission!

In July, Mayor Garcetti appointed Ms. Scrafano to the Cultural Affairs Commission to fill the vacancy created by Mari Edelman, who resigned. This appointment leaves both Commissions unbalanced and unable to break tie votes: the CAC now has 6 sitting commissioners, the CHC 4.

In the absence of Ms. Scrafano, there was nobody able to break the tie vote for landmarking the MWD, which means no action will be taken. With no new Commissioner nominated by the Mayor, and no CHC meeting scheduled in the 75 day window from when the property came before the Commission, this important William Pereira campus will almost certainly be demolished by the property owner.

But there is a chance, and we’re asking you to help: we are petitioning Mayor Garcetti and several city councilmembers with significant pending landmark nominations in their districts to act promptly to correct the voting imbalance on the Cultural Heritage Commission by appointing a fifth Commissioner. We are further asking that CHC president Richard Barron extend the period of consideration and/or call a special meeting once the Commission is balanced to hold a fair and final vote on the fate of the Metropolitan Water District campus.

If you share our belief that the Cultural Heritage Commission should be fully staffed for the protection of Los Angeles landmarks, please visit the petition link here, and add your name to send a message to the Mayor, City Council and the CHC.

Video of the September 15 hearing is below. Learn more about the Pereira in Peril campaign, see videos from past site visits and learn how to join us for upcoming tours here.

Angels Flight Railway graffiti removal

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Early on Thursday we got the word, via a Twitter photo posted by the good folks at DTLA Walking Tours, that Angels Flight Railway had been hit with a major graffiti bomb.

The rest of the day was a blur of emails and calls, seeking out the people who could do something about the mess and help keep it from happening again. Elsewhere in Los Angeles, other concerned citizens were doing their part, too.

Since it was Angels Flight that needed help, the city stepped up with enhanced police patrols over the weekend, and the earliest possible Monday morning crew from Graffiti Control Systems. And that’s why we found ourselves standing under the faded Angels Flight archway just after sunrise, sneakers wet with dew, helping former funicular operator John Welborne to supervise work on the National Register railcars, and shooting the photos and video you’ll find below. Big thanks to Paul Racs, Director of the Office of Community Beautification in the Department of Public Works, for all you did to make this happen!

Enrique, Joel and Ricky did their best, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to treat Angels Flight with kid gloves, and a layer of paint came off with the vandal’s mess. Ironically, this leaves the funicular shining a little brighter today than yesterday—but she’s also more vulnerable, as any further rough cleanings could expose the century-old wood under the paint.

Next, the city plans to tackle the filthy conditions along the Angels Flight stairs, which will make it easier for everyone who cares to spend a little more time keeping an eye on this landmark of old Bunker Hill, protecting her from harm while behind-the-scenes efforts continue to satisfy the demands of the regulatory agency and get Angels Flight Railway running again.

If you haven’t yet, please visit the Save Angels Flight page, where you can sign the petition and let Mayor Garcetti know that you care about Angels Flight and want to see her running again soon, explore a virtual version of the funicular and learn more about its history and preservation. We’ll be sure to let you know when you can take a ride.

yrs,
Kim & Richard
Angels Flight Friends & Neighbors Society (FANS)

Above the Dutch Chocolate Shop, A Mysterious Los Angeles Time Capsule

History-loving Los Angeles, sit down: we’re about to blow your collective mind.

You know, of course, that behind a rolled down grate in the heart of Downtown’s Broadway Theater District is a magical 1914 space called the Dutch Chocolate Shop, containing the largest collection of unique Ernest Batchelder tile murals in the world. If you’ve taken our Lowdown on Downtown tour (it rolls this Saturday), you might have even been inside.

Dutch Chocolate Shop

But have you ever wondered if there is anything else of historical interest preserved within the walls of 217-219 West Sixth Street? More marvelous art tile perhaps, or remnants of the building’s long history as a health food restaurant and cafeteria?

Recently, we had the opportunity to explore the entire building, hoping to answer this nagging question. We took the marbled linoleum stairs, heading into the silent, dusty spaces above and below the Chocolate Shop.

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The basement and middle floors proved to be spare lofts, long stripped of detail, with the exception of occasional patches of vintage wallpaper or stacks of old doors.

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On the top floor, though, things got really interesting. While we didn’t find anything as spectacular as the Dutch Chocolate Shop, we discovered that the building contains another fascinating, and most unlikely, time capsule of old Los Angeles: a nearly intact alternative (read: quack) medical clinic that operated on this site, on and off, from 1939 through the mid-1960s.

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Ladies and gentlemen, we give you: the Dr. A. W. von Lange Health Institute, dispensing the good doctor’s signature Vienna Drugless System, a cure for all that ails you.

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Through some miracle of inertia, the abandoned clinic has remained intact, nearly unaltered, for fifty years, used until recently as storage space. A bit of yellowed marketing material left behind explains something of what went on here.

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“Why Are You Sick?” the pamphlet inquired, before listing a distressing litany of potential maladies: Anemia – Appendicitis – Asthma – Bronchial – Cardiac Disorders – Bladder Trouble – Boils – Bright’s Disease – Catarrh – Chronic Cough – Colds – Colitis – Constipation – Dizziness (and the beat goes on for three more columns of solid suffering).

The potential patient is urged to Call MAdison 6-0951 and schedule a 6-point examination: 1) chest and lung x-ray, 2) circulatory test, 3) blood pressure, temperature and pulse study, 4) bone and joint exam, 5) stomach and colon x-ray and 6) cardiograph.

graphic patients in heat pack

With all that data, Dr. von Lange would be prepared to offer his cure-all recommendation: The Vienna Super-Heat Pack, which as far as we can gather from the vague terminology of the pamphlet and period newspaper ads, was a tight and toasty two-hour towel wrap meant to non-surgically bind herniated ruptures and get the recipient’s intestines working at maximum velocity to flush toxins out their backside. Also on offer: colonic irrigations and spinal adjustments (von Lange styled himself a Doctor of Chiropractic). A return to health should quickly follow.

A sufferer might avail themselves of the free two-hour parking in the Alexandria Hotel lot, then drag their wretched carcass around the corner to the Finney Wilton Building, where in the early years of Dr. von Lange’s practice they could fortify themselves with a snack in the tiled health food restaurant on the ground floor. But no eggs! This binding substance was firmly forbidden those who sought the Viennese heat treatment.

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If immediate relief was their goal, the elevator would deliver them upwards to a long hall, at the center of which a receptionist sat beneath a charming expanse of Japanese wallpaper.

Upon presenting their complaint(s), the patient would soon be ushered back to consult with the doctor, a handsome gentleman with an old world accent, bright eyes and very little hair.

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If the situation required it, and why wouldn’t it, the patient might then continue down the hall to the Hydro-Therapy Department, turning right if a woman and left if a man.

Women's Hydro-Therapy door

Here were, and remain, twin spa facilities behind frosted glass doors, each comprised of three tiled stalls.

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One contained a peculiar low sink/tub contraption that we presume was involved in the colonic irrigation treatments. A heavy gold lamé shower curtain still hanging in front of this stall lends a certain Old Hollywood glamour to the space.

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These clinical rooms are connected by a short hall with a tiny water closet, through which nursing staff might quickly attend to the Vienna Super-Heat Packed on either side of the wall.

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It is a strange and intimate space where time seems to have stood still as the city grew up around it. And just as it’s been our great pleasure to share the Dutch Chocolate Shop with curious urban seekers, we are delighted to (virtually) share its upstairs neighbor. Here are a few more photos.

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Having seen Dr. von Lange’s clinic, we wanted to know more, and began digging into a variety of archival sources. For all his years ministering to Southern California’s unwell, Dr. von Lange left a faint, but intriguing, impression on the public record. From period advertisements, legal filings and news reports, this is what we know.

vienna lax tm filing

In 1934, he trademarked a laxative called Vienna-Lax which had been produced in his own Vienna Laboratory since 1931. (There is evidence of a dismantled lab in the abandoned clinic.) In 1935, it was being distributed at the Best Drug Stores chain in Los Angeles, $2 for the family size bottle.

rejuventation LAT ad

By 1939, he was seeing patients above the Dutch Chocolate Shop, with a suggestive ad in the Los Angeles Times headed REJUVENATION… “We rid the body of all poisons. Youth returns in consequence.” The Vienna Super Heat Pack, one was to assume, would turn an old goat into a young buck again.

terpezone ad 1937 physical culture magazine

Soon, the newspaper ads reveal, he was experimenting with different quack medical devices. In 1940, someone suffering a cold, asthma, sinus or bronchitis could, for $2, receive an examination and single treatment of Terpezone, ozone-rich oxygen vapor that emerged from a sinister box with the cheery claim that it represented the “revitalizing air of the Alps.”

Oh, and he wasn’t really Dr. von Lange. When he arrived in New York in 1914, aged 33, it was as Adolf Tworkowski, though we’ll have to take his word for it. A Pole, he was born in Brody and had most recently lived in Lemberg. Most citizens of Brody were Jewish, but there’s no evidence that our man was a member of the tribe.

He will later claim to have two American-born children, Adolf Jr. (b. 1918, New York) and Irene (b. 1920, Ohio), although strangely neither one appears in census or other vital records, and their mother is apparently a ghost.

Around 1933, Tworkowski somehow becomes proprietor of a health clinic in Long Beach. The established Vienna Health Institute on Pine Avenue is renamed American-Vienna, and moves to a prominent storefront on Seaside, opposite the Municipal Auditorium. Using the more euphonious and suggestively regal name Prof. Von Lange, and claiming training in Vienna and Budapest, Tworkowski takes out numerous ads in the annual city directory to promote his bowel-focused healing arts. But almost immediately, our man is on the move. Our guess: his clinic was damaged in the terrible March 1933 earthquake.

1933 Long Beach city directory ad

In 1934, he seeks to formally change his name from Adolf Ladislaus Tworkowski to Adolf Walter von Lange. He already had a beautiful signature at the ready.

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It will be as Dr. Von Lange that he establishes his professional life in Los Angeles, primarily in the clinic above the Dutch Chocolate Shop. He marries the widowed Evelyn McCarthy of Indiana and they will live together, apparently happily, in a fine English house on Rossmore.

116 N Rossmore sold

But it’s not an Esotouric blog post without some crime and a mystery. First, let’s flash back to 1930, when we find our friend Tworkowski working a long con on the ladies of the Ontario Women’s Clubhouse, selling $20 treatments along with a concoction that we suspect may have violated the provisions of the 18th Amendment.

medicine show bust

A quarter century later, von Lange is an upright citizen, when something frightening happens in the clinic. A man walks in, seeking a diagnosis. But in the course of his intake session, he pulls a gun on the doctor. Both von Lange and receptionist Mrs. Lillian Haldane are tied hand and foot with shoelaces. The robber then ransacks the clinic, searching for cash. He finds nothing and splits, and the victims free themselves and call police.

gunman headline

At the time of this incident, von Lange is 74. A lesser man might well have wound down his business interests and retired to prune the petunias. But ads for the clinic continue to appear through early 1964, and he remains on lists of medical practitioners for another few years after that.

In 1970, Evelyn dies in Los Angeles and her body is shipped back to Indiana for burial. But, like his putative children, von Lange himself vanishes from the record. We do not know when, or even if, he died.

But somewhat miraculously, the doctor’s WW2-era clinic remains at the ready above Sixth Street, needing just a fresh coat of paint and new lengths of rubber tubing to again be at the service of eager health seekers. It is one of the eeriest places we have ever visited, and just one more reminder that one can never fully know Los Angeles.

What does the future hold for this fascinating time capsule? Stay tuned, and we’ll be sure to let you know!

____

For more weird stories of lost Los Angeles, take one of Kim Cooper’s Esotouric crime bus tours, or check out her novel about Raymond Chandler investigating the real 1920s Great Eleven cult, The Kept Girl.

 

 

Pereira in Peril – The Race to Save William L. Pereira’s Metropolitan Water District HQ (1963), LACMA (1965), L.A. Times (1973, landmark altered by City Council) & CBS Television City (1952, landmarked!)

William Pereira with plans for both UC Irvine and the City of Irvine. 3

LATEST NEWS: On May 20, 2019, we submitted public comment on the Times Mirror Square redevelopment project Draft EIR. You can find it at a blog post entitled “Frankly, it smells.”

On May 12, 2019, we published hundreds of emails received by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors prior to their approval of LACMA’s FEIR, and petitioned them to reconsider their decision to demolish the historic 1965 William Pereira campus.

On May 12, 2019, The Los Angeles Times reports troubling news about cracks appearing inside and out of the newly landmarked Los Angeles Times buildings– damage which might further slow progress on Metro’s Regional Connector, which could fail to hit the 2023 deadline for a $670 Million Federal Grant.

On April 9, 2019, the Los Angeles County Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the LACMA redesign project, which would require demolition of the 1965 Pereira campus. Enjoy it while you still can.

Our most active Pereira in Peril preservation campaign has been The Los Angeles Times Mirror Headquarters addition (1973), which is included in our successful (though altered by City Council, see PDF file) landmarking application (PDF file) for the Times Mirror Square complex.

We are grateful to the many passionate people who joined us as we spoke for the stone, glass, neon and the Globe and sought to make preservation of these significant Southern California landmarks part of the public policy of Los Angeles. At the final hearing on September 20, 2018 at Los Angeles City Hall, the Cultural Heritage Commissioners voted unanimously to declare Times Mirror Square a landmark, sending it on to City Council. But on November 7, Downtown councilman Jose Huizar was raided by the FBI, then removed from his powerful PLUM Committee chairmanship. Nevertheless, on November 27, PLUM deferred to Huizar’s request and altered the landmark nomination by removing Pereira’s building. On December 5, 2018, City Council took up the matter of Times Mirror Square’s landmarking as part of a multi-item block vote, and with no comment or discussion, unanimously gave Huizar and Onni Group their amputated landmark.

What’s next for the landmarked buildings of the Los Angeles Times, as a developer with no historic preservation track record attempts to scrape an important modernist building off the protected 1935 Art Deco Kaufmann building? We’ll be there to tell the story, and continue to advocate for the history and built environment of our beloved Los Angeles!

RECENT PRESS CLIPS – TIMES MIRROR SQUARE LANDMARKING CAMPAIGN (more below)

May 12, 2019, The Los Angeles Times reports troubling news about cracks appearing inside and out of the newly landmarked Los Angeles Times buildings– damage which might further slow progress on Metro’s Regional Connector, which could fail to hit the 2023 deadline for a $670 Million Federal Grant.

March 2019 – Draft EIR for Times Mirror Square development project published. The public can provide comment on the project by May 1320, 2019. (See our comment here.)

February 11, 2019: The Real Deal – Forget celebrity mansions, this tour would highlight LA councilman’s alleged misdeeds. Preservationists plan to show people spots tied to Jose Huizar scandals, anti-corruption crusades.

February 7, 2019: Los Angeles Times – Real estate developer Onni Group wants to raze a 1973 office building designed by William Pereira, part of its plan for building two residential towers. Onni gave $50,000 to a committee with ties to Councilman Jose Huizar two months before a crucial vote on the site.

December 12, 2018: NPR – When they write the history of the sale of the historic Los Angeles Times buildings and the possible demolition of William Pereira’s 1973 corporate HQ, they’ll have to consider Michael Ferro’s fundamental misunderstanding of Los Angeles, and his racism.

December 5, 2018: Curbed L.A. – Times Mirror Square, longtime home of the LA Times, is now a landmark. / Los Angeles Times – Council backs historic status for just two L.A. Times buildings, clearing way for redevelopment. / MYNewsLA.com – L.A. Times Complex’s Addition Likely to be Demolished Following Council Vote.

December 5, 2018: L.A. Taco – L.A. Times Building Could Be an Unintended Casualty of Councilman Huizar’s Legal Troubles. Who’s in charge? Marqueece Harris-Dawson or Jose Huizar?

November 29, 2018: Curbed LA – City committee approves landmarking some—but not all—of Times Mirror Square.

November 28, 2018: The Architects Newspaper – Too Little, Too Late Modern / Landmark status denied for Pereira’s LA Times building addition.

November 27, 2018: Los Angeles Times – Times building designed by William Pereira not a monument, council committee says.

November 27, 2018: Courthouse News Service – Split Decision in Bid to Save Landmark LA Times Buildings.

November 27, 2018: NBC / City News Service – Committee to Consider Significance of L.A. Times Complex’s 1970s Addition.

November 26, 2018: The Globe and Mail – “Vancouver developer faces key test as preservationists fight for Los Angeles building.” Ms. Cooper, looking at the Pereira building, declared: “You can’t just clear cut and put up towers. You have to come up with something more sophisticated. It takes more money, more time, and more heart. I don’t think Onni feels the heart of how important this place is.”

September 27, 2018: Amended Cultural Heritage Commission language for our Times Mirror Square nomination, explicitly calling out William Pereira as a master architect (correcting the wishy washy staff report). (PDF link)

September 25, 2018: The Architects Newspaper – Opinion (Alan Hess): It’s time to recognize Pereira’s LA Times building.

September 24, 2018: The Architects Newspaper – William Pereira’s LA Times complex one step closer to being landmarked.

September 21, 2018: Curbed LA – Landmark effort for Times Mirror Square breezes through cultural heritage commission.

September 20, 2018: Courthouse News Service – Historic LA Times Building Wins Wrecking-Ball Reprieve.

September 20, 2018: Los Angeles Times – Cultural Heritage Commission supports monument status for former L.A. Times buildings.


Metropolitan Water District: In 1963, William L. Pereira designed a stunning headquarters for the Metropolitan Water District on a circular hilltop site overlooking Sunset Boulevard and Downtown Los Angeles. Ten years later, he completed the west side of the campus with a tower.

The tower has been fully restored as The Elysian apartments, developed by Linear City. But the 1963 low-rise campus buildings, recently purchased by Palisades Capital Partners from the bankrupt church owner, are in imminent danger, with a demolition notice posted on the fence.

William Pereira is an iconic Southern California architecthis projects include LACMA, CBS Television City, LAX, JPL and the Disneyland Hotelbut his work is being lost at a frightening pace. So on July 10, 2016, architectural historian Alan Hess and Esotouric’s Richard Schave met at the endangered Metropolitan Water District Headquarters to talk about why it’s so important that the buildings be landmarked and preserved. On August 18, 2016, we attended the Cultural Heritage Commission’s landmark consideration site visit. Please watch and share the videos, listen to the Pereira in Peril podcast episode and stay tuned to the Esotouric newsletter for more news about how you can help save William L. Pereria’s Metropolitan Water District headquarters.

(Supplementary material: landmark application documents; applicant’s response to initial hearing questions. Also, please read our post about the 2-2 vote at the landmarking hearing and see our successful petition asking that Mayor Garcetti fill the empty seat on the Cultural Heritage Commission.)

PRESS CLIPS & UPDATES – ALL PEREIRA IN PERIL CAMPAIGNS

May 30, 2019, Los Feliz Ledger survey of the upzoned TOC projects along Sunset Boulevard, including the enormous 1111 W. Sunset, which threatens William Pereira’s Metropolitan Water District campus.

May 28, 2019, Fix The City Files Lawsuit Challenging the LACMA EIR on the Ogden Garage.

May 16, 2019, Larchmont Buzz – coverage of publication of emails sent to the Los Angeles County Supervisors and the LACMA Lovers League petition

May 15, 2019, artnetNews – A New Petition Calls on Los Angeles’s Board of Supervisors to Reconsider LACMA’s Controversial Redesign

May 13, 2019, The Architect’s Newspaper – LACMA Lovers League starts petition to pause Zumthor’s new building

May 13, 2019: Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Knight finds Peter Zumthor’s gallery interiors old fashioned, and completely unsuitable for hanging art in earthquake country.

May 12, 2019: We published hundreds of emails received by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors prior to their approval of LACMA’s FEIR, and petitioned them to reconsider their decision to demolish the historic 1965 William Pereira campus.

May 12, 2019: The Los Angeles Times reports troubling news about cracks appearing inside and out of the newly landmarked Los Angeles Times buildings–damage which could further slow progress on Metro’s Regional Connector, which might fail to hit the 2023 deadline for a $670 Million Federal Grant. It is unclear what damage, if any, has been found in the Pereira building.

April 25, 2019: We celebrate William Pereira’s 110th birthday in partnership with The Late Group encouraging people to take selfies with favorite Pereira buildings. Find your nearest and dearest landmark on the map and share on social media today and all through May (California Preservation Month) with the hashtag #PereiraForever

April 9, 2019: Ignoring widespread critical and public calls to reject an EIR that raises more questions than it answers, the Los Angeles County Supervisors, joined by celebrity pals, voted unanimously to demolish Pereira’s historic 1965 LACMA campus. The project now requires City Council to give the museum the air space above Wilshire Boulevard. (L.A. Times, New York Times, Curbed L.A.)

April 9, 2019: Los Angeles County Supervisors to vote on LACMA project. Public feedback can be made by email or in person.

April 5, 2019: L.A. Review of Books – LACMA: Suicide by Architecture. “The County Board of Supervisors is now scheduled to vote on April 9 to approve funds based on a deceptive document without having seen a fully documented project or accurate square footage numbers.”

April 2, 2019: L.A. Times – LACMA, the Incredible Shrinking Museum: A critic’s lament.

March 29, 2019: L.A. Times – In a new redesign LACMA experiences shrinkage — and shapeshifts yet again.

March 25, 2019: Curbed L.A. – LACMA by Zumthor, 2019 edition: “under the newly released plans, the building would be 347,500 sq feet—40,000 sq feet smaller than the last version and more than 45,000 sq feet smaller than the four existing [Pereira] LACMA buildings that will be razed.”

February 11, 2019: The Real Deal – Forget celebrity mansions, this bus tour would highlight LA councilman’s alleged misdeeds. Preservationists plan to show people spots tied to Jose Huizar scandals, anti-corruption crusades.

February 7, 2019: Los Angeles Times – Real estate developer Onni Group wants to raze a 1973 office building designed by William Pereira, part of its plan for building two residential towers. Onni gave $50,000 to a committee with ties to Councilman Jose Huizar two months before a crucial vote on the site.

December 12, 2018: NPR – When they write the history of the sale of the historic Los Angeles Times buildings and the possible demolition of William Pereira’s 1973 corporate HQ, they’ll have to consider Michael Ferro’s fundamental misunderstanding of Los Angeles, and his racism.

December 10, 2018: Curbed L.A. – Unlike Times Mirror Square, CBS Television City, newly landmarked, is one Pereira that’s not in Peril. New owners Hackman Capital Partners will maintain the historic features of this groundbreaking modernist production factory—and perhaps use it for its original purpose.

December 5, 2018: Curbed L.A. – Times Mirror Square, longtime home of the LA Times, is now a landmark. / Los Angeles Times – Council backs historic status for just two L.A. Times buildings, clearing way for redevelopment. / MYNewsLA.com – L.A. Times Complex’s Addition Likely to be Demolished Following Council Vote.

December 5, 2018: L.A. Taco – L.A. Times Building Could Be an Unintended Casualty of Councilman Huizar’s Legal Troubles. Who’s in charge? Marqueece Harris-Dawson or Jose Huizar?

November 30, 2018: Fullerton gets it, even if Jose Huizar and the PLUM Committee don’t: William Pereira’s Hunt Branch Library named a protected Local Landmark!

November 29, 2018: Curbed LA – City committee approves landmarking some—but not all—of Times Mirror Square.

November 28, 2018: The Architects Newspaper – Too Little, Too Late Modern / Landmark status denied for Pereira’s LA Times building addition.

November 27, 2018: Los Angeles Times – Times building designed by William Pereira not a monument, council committee says.

November 27, 2018: Courthouse News Service – Split Decision in Bid to Save Landmark LA Times Buildings.

November 27, 2018: NBC / City News Service – Committee to Consider Significance of L.A. Times Complex’s 1970s Addition.

November 26, 2018: The Globe and Mail – “Vancouver developer faces key test as preservationists fight for Los Angeles building.” Ms. Cooper, looking at the Pereira building, declared: “You can’t just clear cut and put up towers. You have to come up with something more sophisticated. It takes more money, more time, and more heart. I don’t think Onni feels the heart of how important this place is.”

October 16, 2018: CBS Television City reportedly selling to Hackman Capital for over $700M.  Happily, this Pereira (previously) in Peril is partially protected by its recently obtained HCM status.

September 27, 2018: Amended Cultural Heritage Commission language for our Times Mirror Square nomination, explicitly calling out William Pereira as a master architect (correcting the wishy washy staff report). (PDF link)

September 26, 2018: Save The Hunt Library tour and Pereira talk hosted by Alan Hess.

September 25, 2018: The Architects Newspaper – Opinion (Alan Hess): It’s time to recognize Pereira’s LA Times building.

September 24, 2018: The Architects Newspaper – William Pereira’s LA Times complex one step closer to being landmarked.

September 21, 2018: Curbed LA – Landmark effort for Times Mirror Square breezes through cultural heritage commission.

September 20, 2018: Courthouse News Service – Historic LA Times Building Wins Wrecking-Ball Reprieve.

September 20, 2018: Los Angeles Times – Cultural Heritage Commission supports monument status for former L.A. Times buildings.

September 14, 2018: LAist – Here’s Why Some Officials Think The LA Times’ Former HQ Should Be Preserved.

September 12, 2018: Los Angeles Times – Office of Historic Resources recommends that Times Mirror Square be named an historic-cultural monument of the City of Los Angeles.

August 31, 2018 – You Can’t Eat the Sunshine podcast Episode #130: Once Upon A Time At Times Mirror Square features Harry Chandler on his family’s newspaper empire and Carolyn Strickler, former Times historian.

August 30, 2018 – Larchmont Chronicle preservation columnist Christy McAvoy on landmarking Times Mirror Square: “If there ever was a site to preserve intact, this is one.”

July 31, 2018 –  You Can’t Eat the Sunshine podcast Episode #129: Preserving Dynastic Los Angeles County Landmarks in the 21st Century: The Chandlers’ Times Mirror Square & The Bixbys’ Rancho Los Cerritos features Alan Hess talking about efforts to landmark William Pereira’s Times corporate HQ building

July 20, 2018 – Los Angeles Times: For a brief, shining moment, Times Mirror Square was L.A.’s Camelot. Plus: Inside the historic buildings that have defined the Los Angeles Times

July 19, 2018 – Los Angeles Times: City commission will consider bid to declare Los Angeles Times buildings historic-cultural monuments (discusses battle brewing over who owns the Globe Lobby artifacts and if they can be moved)

July 19, 2018 – Curbed LA: LA will consider landmarking Times Mirror Square—including 1970s addition

July 19, 2018 – KTLA: Group Pushes to Make DTLA Los Angeles Times Building a Historical Site

July 19, 2018 – City News Service: Commission Will Consider Historic Preservation Status of L.A. Times Complex

July 19, 2018 – Cultural Heritage Commission hearing #1 for Times Mirror Square landmarking video

July 17, 2018 – Los Angeles Times: Ugly carpets and green marble: The design of the Los Angeles Times buildings changed along with the city, though not always gracefully.

July 15, 2018 – Los Angeles Times Globe Lobby Emptied of Historic Resources Ahead of Landmark Hearing.

July 13, 2018 – Curbed LA: LACMA is #1, MWD is #2 and Times Mirror Square is #5 on Curbed’s list of LA’s most endangered buildings. “Led by groups like the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles, and Esotouric, LA has a strong community dedicated to historic preservation.”

July 12, 2018 – New York Times’ California Today: Los Angeles and Its Newspaper, Explained by Three Buildings

July 10, 2018 – KPCC-FM Take Two: The Los Angeles Times buildings apply for Historic Monument Status (Segment starts at 31:14)

July 6, 2018 – Curbed LA: Longtime LA Times headquarters nominated for landmark status – An addition by architect William Pereira is under threat.

July 5, 2018 – KPCC-FM Airtalk: Reporters bid farewell to the landmark (but not landmarked) Los Angeles Times buildings.

July 3, 2018: Los Angeles Times feature about our campaign to landmark Times Mirror Square – “Preservationists call for historic status for Los Angeles Times buildings, threatening redevelopment plans.”

July 3, 2018: Los Angeles Times feature on fundraising trouble for the proposed LACMA campus demolition and redesign.

June 26, 2018: Cheers to our pal Alan Hess, who wrote the LA Conservancy’s successful landmarking nomination for CBS Television City, and to CBS for coming to the table to craft a preservation solution for the future of its historic broadcast production campus.

June 18, 2018: The Los Angeles Times is sold to Patrick Soon-Shiong, who has previously announced his intention to move the newsroom to the city of El Segundo. The future of the unlandmarked buildings of Times Mirror Square, including the vacant 1973 Pereira addition, is uncertain.

June 2018: Another fine mid-century Pereira in Peril, but the citizens of Fullerton aren’t taking the risk to their Hunt Branch library lightly. Can this gorgeous gift from Norton Simon be saved?

Development would bring Downtown high-rises to Echo Park’s doorstep (Eastsider L.A., 1/11/18)

Downtown L.A.’s development boom heads west with a big new housing and retail complex (L.A. Times, 1/11/2018)

Developer renderings for demolition of most of MWD site (1111 Sunset) published (January 2018)

JANUARY 2018: Developer Palisades Capital Partners proposes demolition of much of William Pereira’s Metropolitan Water District headquarters. However, renderings do show retention of the central low-rise building connected to Pereira’s later tower (now called The Elysian), and reconstruction of that building’s iconic sunscreens that were removed, we believe, to hinder the landmark nomination. As this project moves forward, we will continue to advocate for a sensitive restoration of the extant Pereira campus, and of the 1960s-era water features and landscaping.

Op-Ed: Los Angeles should preserve CBS Television City before it’s too late (Zev Yaroslavsky, L.A. Times, 12/10/2017)

Edifice Complex Mars L.A. County Museum (Sam Hall Kaplan, 10/14/2017)

SOM and James Corner to rework Pereira’s Metropolitan Water District in Los Angeles (The Architect’s Newspaper, 10/18/2017)

Another Pereira in Peril: Redevelopment Plans for CBS Television City? (Curbed L.A., 9/27/17)

Fresh Renderings for Onni’s Times Mirror Square Redevelopment (Urbanize. LA, 6/29/17)

First Look at the Times Mirror Square Redevelopment (Urbanize L.A., 1/24/17)

Can Preservationists Save L.A.’s Late Modernist Landmarks From the Wrecking Ball? (L.A. Weekly, 1/5/2017)

Pereira addition of Los Angeles Times complex to be demolished in redevelopment (The Architect’s Newspaper, 12/09/2016)

What’s Next for Times Mirror Square? (Downtown News, 11/2/2016)

William Pereira – modernism on a massive scale (The Soul of California podcast, 10/13/2016)

Which William Pereira Buildings Are Worth Preserving? (Architect, the journal of the AIA, 10/4/2016)

Periera in Peril: Time is running out for William Pereira’s modernist legacy (The Architect’s Newspaper, 9/26/2016)

William Pereira building denied landmark status, paving the way for demolition (Curbed LA, 9/15/2016)

Got questions for the LACMA makeover? Bring them to a “scoping meeting” Wednesday (KCRW’s DnA, 8/23/16)

Inside the William Pereira buildings on Sunset in danger of demolition (Curbed, 8/22/16)

Photos: Inside The Former Metropolitan Water District Building, Now Under Threat Of Demolition (LAist, 8/19/2016)

A Rare Interior Tour of the Endangered Los Angeles Times Compound (Esotouric, 6/18/2016)

The Peabody-Werden House makes a move

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to see a 121-year-old Victorian duplex moved across the road, and luckily for you, we do.

Peabody-Werden House through fence

We arrived at First and Soto Streets to find the crew from Brandt House & Building Movers staging the dirt in front of the house and prepping plywood panels to protect the sidewalk and asphalt. On the other side of the street, the vacant Metro-owned lot stood ready for its precious cargo, a pair of blooming Jacaranda trees jussssst far enough apart that the house would be able to squeeze between them.

Jacaranda framing Peabody-Werden House

A crowd gathered, curious to see what moving a house was all about. Among them, a precocious six-year-old named Michael who adamantly insisted that Victorian houses were old and ugly. Nevertheless, he was eager to spend his birthday morning watching this one start its new life.

We’re still giddy about our historic preservation campaign succeeding in just 13 hours, and so pleased that ELACC graciously agreed to preserve, restore and transform the Peabody-Werden house into a community center. We hope the happy conclusion of this home’s story will inspire other people to ask for a preservation solution when redevelopment projects put historic places at risk. Houses can be moved. Old things matter. And you can’t win unless you try.

We were able to capture most of the house move on cell phone video, until a phone call from a reporter inadvertently cut off the recording. Brandt’s crew made quick work of it, and we think you’ll find the process interesting. Here’s to the next 121 years, and all the good work done today.

The last Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery windmill is back

Despite the triple-digit temperatures, the western end of Route 66 seems a bit cooler today thanks to a newly-restored piece of roadside signage; the vintage 1967 Van de Kamp’s Holland Dutch Bakery windmill (since 1989 a Denny’s) on Huntington Boulevard, Arcadia.

And we were there for the festivities, as former mayor George Fasching shared his seemingly quixotic quest to convince Denny’s corporate HQ to finance a restoration. Although others in town were pessimistic, George’s spunky note to CEO John Miller made a strong case, and once the city relaxed the sign ordinance to permit motion, a check for $100,000 soon followed. In just a few months, the windmill had a new motor and reinforced blades illuminated with white LEDs.

Also in attendance was architect Harold Bissner Jr., who with Harold B. Zook designed the circular Arcadia landmark, the first (and last surviving) of fifteen Van de Kamp’s restaurants. (Bissner is also the visionary behind Volcano House, Huell Howser’s old hang out.)

As the blades started spinning, a couple of ladies of indeterminate age squinted up at them from the sidewalk across the street. “It used to spin clockwise,” said one. “And the lights were blue and white, Van de Kamp’s colors.” “Woo! Windmill!” yelled a young, smiling man covered in tattoos. And Harold Bissner looked upon his own work and he smiled, too.

John Miller says the windmill will spin 24/7, sending a message of welcome to all who pass. Next time you’re out Santa Anita way, swing by and see for yourself.