Historic Preservation Committee Updates

West Adams preservation advocates enjoyed a very brief holiday break (very brief) before being back hard at work advocating to save historic resources throughout the Historic West Adams District. While WAHA makes every effort to designate resources, and avoid potential conflicts, there are times that require an emergency response. Currently WAHA is working to save the historic William T. Bishop Residence (see story, above) while also reviewing and responding to the draft West Adams-Baldwin Hills-Leimert New Community Plan, and evaluating the initial SurveyLA results for the West Adams District (see story, below).

In addition, WAHA is actively working on numerous other preservation advocacy efforts:

WAHA sponsored the nomination of the Stewart Farmhouse, located at 511 West 31st Street, as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument (HCM). The Stewart Farmhouse is West Adams’ oldest extant house (at least that we have identified so far!) Its designation was approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission at its hearing on January 10. Built in 1871 by John Marcellus Stewart, a pioneer nurseryman, the rare 1870s era farmhouse is associated with the agricultural and residential development of Los Angeles in the 19th century. Laura Meyers prepared the application with assistance from Jim Childs. Photographs were provided by Charlie Fisher and John Arnold. It has now been transmitted to City Council for approval.

WAHA joined dozens of community activists and residents in Pico Union to protest at a hearing in November regarding the historic Chapel of the Pines, whose new owners have erected new buildings without permits, removed nearly all of the landscaping, erected a new columbarium without permits and moved human remains to it (yes, without permits), and have been conducting mortuary services without permit and in violation of the zoning – and yet who are applying to build another large parking and funeral chapel structure on the grounds. WAHA testified about the historic nature of the property, the adjacent Angelus Rosedale Cemetery and the history of Mortuary Row nearby (where mortuary services were permitted in the zone). Many people testified about the impacts this operation is having on the adjacent residential neighborhood, and the concerns about the new retail business selling niches to unknowing families who are not aware that the newly-constructed columbarium is unpermitted, uninspected and may be hazardous in an earthquake where the structures may fall. The Zoning Administrator ruled against the owners in all regards, and completely denied the application. However, the owners have appealed and another public hearing was scheduled for the South Los Angeles Area Planning Commission on Tuesday, February 5.

WAHA is reviewing a Norwood Housing proposal for 29 residential units with 74 underground parking spaces (32 residential and 40 non-residential teacher parking spaces). Located on Oak Street, 20th Street and 21st Street, within the University Park HPOZ, WAHA is concerned that the proposal conform to the University Park Preservation Plan which requires conformance to historic patterns of development including prevailing massing, scale and setback and will provide comment at a February 11th Zoning Administrator (ZA) hearing.

The WAHA-sponsored West Boulevard Bridge nomination was approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission, the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM), and then adopted by Council as an Historic Cultural Monument on January 19th. At press time, we are awaiting the Mayor’s signature to make it official. Mitzi Mogul preparedand moved this designation through the nomination process.

The WAHA Historic Preservation Committee traditionally hosts an annual historic preservation celebration to coincide with May as nationally recognized Preservation Month. Having been hosted at many wonderful historic settings (Mount St. Mary’s College, the Lukens-Soriano House, Heritage Square, and the Willard J. Doran Residence, to name a few), this year we are thrilled to be at the Brown Gorsline House, on 2626 Portland Street, which was another successful WAHA nomination, prepared by Laura Meyers with assistance from Mitzi Mogul and Jim Childs. It is an 1878 Italianate associated with Thomas Bruen Brown, original builder and owner, who was a major figure in the social, political and professional development and growth of Los Angeles in the late 19th Century. Our special guest speaker will be former Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission Member Helen Madrid Worthen, who grew up in the neighborhood. She will share personal insights on the recognition of historic resources. So please save the date, Sunday, May 5, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Preservation month. A special thank you to owner Donn S. Gorsline for agreeing to host this year’s preservation celebration.