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.

stairs

step risers

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.

silver wall

wall paper

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.

Exit

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.

LAT 1953 von Lange ad cropped

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.

vienna pamphlet front

“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.

Japanese wallpaper

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.

von lange naturalization photo

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.

stalls

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.

tub

gold curtain

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.

WC

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.

von lange signature

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 November 6, 2019, Save LACMA board members gave public comment at Los Angeles City Hall opposing the gift of air rights over Wilshire Boulevard for the new LACMA building.

On October 18, 2019, we are pleased to announce the launch of Save LACMA, a registered 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation that plans to provide a public forum through which to amplify community voices, so that the most positive future for The Los Angeles County Museum of Art can be achieved.


On October 16, 2019 the Los Angeles Planning Department was scheduled to decide the fate of Times Mirror Square. We invited the public to give public comment or send an email asking the Commissioners to “do the right thing” and approve a redevelopment plan that preserves and protects this architecturally and culturally significant place, while rejecting the appearance of political corruption steering land use decisions in Los Angeles. (Facebook event link.) At the meeting, following passionate public comment as seen in the video above (and partly transcribed on our blog), the planners made no decision. This is likely due to the serious challenge to the EIR submitted by California public benefit corporation SAFER on the morning of the hearing, and reported for the first time on our blog.

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.

PRESS CLIPS & UPDATES – ALL PEREIRA IN PERIL CAMPAIGNS

September 4, 2019, Archinect – With Peter Zumthor’s LACMA in the Home Stretch, Is Los Angeles Entering its Post-Rational Phase? After museum director Michael Govan seeks to convince him of the project’s necessity, John Southern says “I believe that we have entered L.A.’s post-rational period, where cultural institutions are governed by bean counters, lawyers, and social media marketeers…”

August 30, 2019, Le Monde – Coverage of the planned transformation of the LACMA campus, concluding with preservation-minded petitioner Richard Schave’s observation, “Ce n’est pas sérieux.” (“This isn’t serious”). French original, English translation.

August 23, 2019, L.A. Times – Column: LACMA, largely closed, has become an expensive ghost town

July 9, 2019, L.A. Times – A devastating take down of the planned, mindless destruction of 50 years of curation and collecting at LACMA, in the form of an open letter to Peter Zumthor, who is over in the old country, fingers in his ears, singing “La la la, I can’t hear you!” (But the last lines are wrong: the Pereira must go to clear room for this dog.)

July 3, 2019, Curbed L.A. – LACMA architect Peter Zumthor comments on revised design “So far, I see no difficulties”

June 25, 2019, Los Angeles Times – LACMA opposition group vows to keep fighting the museum’s Zumthor plan.

June 12, 2019: The Architect’s Newspaper – Cracks found on L.A. Times building ahead of controversial development.

June 10, 2019 – CBS Television City logo removed, in violation of the landmark designation (PDF) which protects the original eye graphic. Following public outcry, it returned.

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)


Among our most active Pereira in Peril preservation campaigns is 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)

June 12, 2019: The Architect’s Newspaper – Cracks found on L.A. Times building ahead of controversial development.

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.)

 

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.

Seen in Boyle Heights: the incredible historic preservation power of social media

Esotouric's Meme that saved the Peabody Werden House

On September 10, 2015, I read the transcript of a short KPCC radio piece about 20 Boyle Heights families facing eviction from their rent-controlled apartments by low-income housing developer East L.A. Community Corporation (ELACC). Residents had been organized by Union de Vecinos to protest the loss of their homes. I shared the news with my husband Richard Schave, who hosts an occasional tour about the cultural history of Boyle Heights.

On September 26, while running errands in the neighborhood, Richard and I stopped to see where residents were fighting to save their homes. Although the eviction fight and planned demolitions had received quite a bit of news coverage that month, we were startled to discover that one of the threatened properties was a very handsome double-width, half-timbered Victorian house. Why had none of the reporters mentioned that this wasn’t just an eviction story, but an historic preservation story, too?

After taking some photos of the run-down house from the sidewalk, I went home and researched the history of 2415 East 1st, learning it was built circa 1895 and had been an early mixed use development: residential below and commercial above.

Concerned that nobody had sounded the alarm about the demolition threat to a unique historic structure, I spent half an hour designing a simple image meme showing the vintage building contrasted with its proposed modern replacement. The text read: “SAVE ME! Q: With so many vacant lots in Boyle Heights, why does affordable housing developer ELACC want to tear down a 120-year old mansion?.”

Then late on September 27, I posted the image on Esotouric’s Facebook account with the suggestion that anyone concerned about the house share it and send an email to developer ELACC. Dozens of people shared it overnight.

My own September 27 email to ELACC read: “I am writing in regard to the 1895 half-timbered double house at [2415 East 1st], which is slated for demolition under your proposed redevelopment project, Cielito Lindo. This is a rare example of Tudor-style architecture on the East side of the river, and is also unusual due to its scale and its retention of glass, wood and stone details. It has great bones, and deserves another chance. I urge you to explore options for moving this 120 year old community landmark, rather than destroying it.”

On September 28, ELACC President Isela C. Gracian President replied, with a message that was refreshingly different from the demolition plans that had been reported in the Los Angeles Times, Eastsider L.A. and Boyle Heights Beat.

Gracian thanked me for my interest in the property and continued, “Let me just start off correcting information, this building is not slatted (sic) nor has it been for demolition. This is incorrect information which has unfortunately been disseminated.We at ELACC support the preservation of historic places and [this] is a building we are working to preserve by moving it to a different location. The preservation of the building has been at the forefront since we acquired the property.”

The time elapsed between my initial email to ELACC and ELACC’s reply? Just thirteen hours and 52 minutes. But in that short window, dozens of people shared the image meme and sent their own emails of concern.

In late October, Richard and I took Ms. Gracian up on an invitation to participate in a discussion about possible future uses for the building, where we learned that an empty MTA lot directly across 1st Street might be available as a new home for structure, which ELACC had nicknamed The Blue House or The Peabody Werden House in honor of early residents. (see Attachment B – Peabody-Werden House Relocation Site Plan.)

And this Thursday, June 30 (8:00AM – 2:00PM), after 121 years facing south, the structure will be moved directly across 1st Street to its temporary, north-facing home. And Richard and I will be there to watch the show, tickled to know that because we stopped to take a look, and shared our concerns with the preservation-minded Los Angeles social media community, ELACC responded with a respectful plan to preserve a piece of Boyle Heights history for future generations. Won’t you join us?

And it’s a happy ending for the residents, too, as Union de Vecinos negotiated right of return for evicted tenants to go to the top of the list to move into the new development.

So what’s next for The Peabody Werden House? Metro is granting a one year license to stage the historic house on their vacant lot during construction of the approved Cielito Lindo project. which requires its removal. ELACC is exploring options for its future use, including restoring it as a community space for residents of the proposed Los Lirios development slated for the vacant lot. (see 1st_soto_board_report). Stay tuned to the Esotouric blog for updates as we get them.

Updated to add: watch the house moved here.

A Rare Interior Tour of the Endangered Los Angeles Times Compound

When the Chandler family relinquished ownership of the Los Angeles Times in 2000, it sounded a discordant note all across the southland.

For while the Chandlers and ancestor Col. Otis before them were imperfect stewards, they were undeniably devoted to the growth and dignity of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Times, that city’s newspaper. Chicago-based Tribune’s tenure has been closer to Animal House than Pulitzer territory, as the once great paper has hemorrhaged staff while failing miserably to comprehend the challenges and opportunities of the digital era.

Which brings us to this week’s announcement that Tribune Tronc is close to selling the “landmark” Times-Mirror compound at 1st and Spring Streets, landmark in quotes because not one part of this magnificent compound is a protected Historic-Cultural Monument. Not Gordon B. Kaufmann’s broad-shouldered 1935 Art Deco jewel box with its glowing neon clock, not Rowland Crawford’s boldly vertical 1948 Times Mirror addition, not William Peirera’s elegant, and widely misunderstood, 1973 black glass corporate headquarters.

Although the lobbies of the Kaufmann and Crawford buildings are accessible, much of the compound remains a mystery to the public and sadly, in recent years to newspaper staff as well.

With a sale possible and no civic protection for these important buildings, as a public service we share these interior photos, shot last fall while scouting locations for an Angels Flight Railway benefit. In the end, we held it at the Million Dollar Theater. But we sure did enjoy our spin around the old Times HQ, and think you will, too. Long may she stand.

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Post updated to include a link to our colleague Nathan Marsak’s appearance on “Press Play with Madeleine Brand” talking about the preservation concerns surrounding the proposed sale. 

While Los Angeles Waits: A Virtual 3-D Tour of Angels Flight Railway

Angels Flight in mid track IMG_20160605_180348

To go directly to the 3-D Angels Flight tour, click here

It has been 1005 days since Angels Flight Railway, the beloved funicular that is, with the exception of a stone retaining wall, the last remnant of the lost Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill, suffered a minor derailing incident and was taken offline by its regulator, the California PUC.

Last July, horrified to see a car defaced with greasy graffiti, we formed the Angels Flight Friends & Neighbors Society (FANS) and petitioned Mayor Garcetti for help in cutting the regulatory red tape. He responded quickly, instructing Metro to prepare a report. But nothing else happened, at least not in the public eye. And here it is, almost summer again, and there’s still no good answer to that burning question we hear so often on our historic tours: “When can we ride Angels Flight?”

We believe that everyone should have the chance to enjoy this unique time capsule of old Los Angeles. And it occurred to us that if Angels Flight can’t legally take paying customers, there’s nothing to stop virtual visitors from climbing aboard. Unfortunately, there’s also little to stop bad actors from climbing aboard, as we discovered yesterday evening, on arrival at Angels Flight.

While Craig Sauer prepared his 3-D Matterport camera rig to capture the funicular’s photogenic nooks and crannies, Angels Flight FANS Richard Schave and Gordon Pattison got busy scrubbing off the childish graffiti tags that covered Olivet’s windows, undercarriage, seats and beams.  This vandalism, funicular operator John Welborne said, was no more than five days old. Thanks, a lot, “Saucy.”

But how are people getting into the Angels Flight cars, normally parked in the center of the 298 foot track, high above the ground? We didn’t have to ask, for an intense young man suddenly appeared just below the station house, having marched boldly up the tracks from Hill Street. When John Welborne inquired what he thought he was doing, the trespasser cooed, “Are you a Scientologist?” and blithely skipped away.

So far, vandals have only scrawled on the cars, scratched their names into the glass and left trash behind. It is our great fear that one of these illegal visitors will cause more lasting damage that cannot be erased with elbow grease and Goo-Gone. So long as Angels Flight remains out of commission, it falls to all of us, from public agencies to private citizens, to keep our eyes on Olivet and Sinai, and to call for help if we see anything suspicious.

But enough fretting and fussing: strap on your wings and get ready to soar!

Craig Sauer at Angels Flight station houseCraig’s 3-D scan replicates the experience of boarding Olivet at Angels Flight’s upper station house on Bunker Hill. The car is empty, so you can sit anywhere you like.

ride on Angels Flight lasts less than a minute, but there’s no need to hurry. Poke around and explore, admiring the narrow slatted ceiling, bare incandescent bulbs and metal handrails worn from innumerable rising riders. Although moved half a block south from its original location and no longer hemmed in by Victorian apartment hotels, Angels Flight is essentially unchanged from the conveyance than carried generations of Angelenos from the heights down into the city. Once you’ve had your fill, simply head down the hill inside the car and you’ll arrive at the lower station house, just across from Grand Central Market, open late all summer long and the new home of our free LAVA Sunday Salons and Broadway on My Mind walking tours.

V on Angels Flight IMG_20160605_184149It was a pleasure to spend a little time with our beloved Angels Flight and bring back a special view to share. The best part was seeing the faces of Craig’s children light up as they experienced their very first ride on L.A.’s wonderful funicular. Let’s hope it won’t be much longer before they, their classmates and YOU can ride it any day of the year.

If you care about Angels Flight and want to see it running again, please sign and share our petition, and we’ll keep you informed about the preservation campaign.

If you enjoy Craig’s Angels Flight tour, we also recommend our previous collaborations: The Dutch Chocolate Shop, Barclay Hotel and a folk art tunnel along the Los Angeles River. What will be the next hidden Los Angeles landmark to get the 3-D treatment? Stay tuned!

Save the Smell & Save the Victory Cafe!

245 to 249 s main street demolitions photo by the smellEarlier today the Smell, the legendary all-ages club in Los Angeles’ historic Skid Row, shared a photograph of a demolition permit application notice posted on their building. Even at the start of a holiday weekend, the response from incensed patrons was deafening.

We love the Smell, too, and agree that Los Angeles would be much diminished by its loss, should the permit be approved.

But the threatened structures at 245-249 South Main Street are so much more than just their familiar 2016 businesses: the Downtown Independent Theater, the Smell and the New Jalisco bar. They are the last physical remnants of a lost early 20th century Main Street, a zone of deliciously low culture entertainment that encompassed the burlesque arts, tattooing, freak shows, shooting galleries, wax museums, nickelodeon theaters, taxi dance halls and bars catering to all manner of men, an honorable tradition continued by the New Jalisco.

It is a world as lost to us as the Aztec and the Maya, but one that continues to fascinate and to inspire, and that we attempt to visit four times a year on our crime bus tour Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice.

These are not the kind of buildings that inspire book-length studies, appear in pristine archival photographs or are featured on the walking tours of the Los Angeles Conservancy. To find their stories, one must browse through cinema enthusiast websites and the back pages of old newspapers, source rare bits of b-movie footage, keep both ears to the ground.

Here, in a rare bit of color Main Street film shot by the Union Rescue Mission in 1949, we see the threatened structures (The Civic Theater/Downtown Independent, The Victory Cafe/The Smell and Palace Cafe Chop Suey/New Jalisco Bar), set between the lost storefronts to the south and north.

So as 21st century Angelenos rally to Save The Smell, let’s remember that succeeding will also Save The Victory Cafe, and the last stray remnants of Main Street’s astonishing, vanishing entertainment zone. We think it’s worth preserving.

Did we say these are not the kind of buildings featured on Conservancy walking tours? Happily, our friends have no such compunctions. Here’s architectural historian Nathan Marsak, LAVA’s Visionary of the Year for 2015, celebrating these modest storefronts on the Union Rescue Mission Walking Tour: 121 Years on Skid Row. (If you dig these clips, please consider making a donation to the good folks at the URM.)