Archive for April, 2016

mythbusters2How much do you really know about historic preservation? In this two-part series, we explore the myths surrounding preservation. In this article, we bust preservation myths at large. In the second article, we’ll dispel preservation myths specific to the city of Alhambra.

Myth #1 – Historic designation will reduce my property values.

Fact – Study after study across the nation has conclusively demonstrated that historic designation and the creation of historic districts actually increase property values. Why? Historic designation gives a neighborhood or an individual historic site a uniqueness that many buyers seek. Two economically valuable assurances: that the very qualities that attracted them to their neighborhood will actually endure over time, and that they can safely reinvest in sensitive home improvements without fear that their neighbor will undermine this investment with a new monster home” or inappropriate new development.

Myth #2 – Preservation is only for the rich and elite.

Fact – Today’s preservation movement is increasingly diverse. In LA, the two newest Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs) are in Pico-Union and Lincoln Heights, home to economically and ethnically varied populations.

Preservation today also focuses on more modest sites of social and cultural significance. Just look at the small Ralph J.Bunche House in South Los Angeles, boyhood home of the pioneering African-American diplomat. Or, consider a current preservation effort to save the modest Vladeck Center, a Boyle Heights building that was the center of the Jewish life in the 1930s.Such sites underscore that preservation can be about the “power of place” at sites of rich cultural meaning.

Myth #3 – Historic preservation is bad for business.

Fact – Historic preservation is at the very heart of our nation’s most vibrant economic development and business attraction programs. In Southern California, think Old Pasadena or San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Here’s a national example: The National Main Street Center, a program that uses historic preservation to revitalize town centers and neighborhood commercial districts, has actually tracked economic results in 1,700 Main Street communities nationally. These preservation-based programs have created over 231,000 new jobs and resulted in over $17 billion in reinvestment to date, with every dollar spent on a Main Street program yielding $40 in economic reinvestment.

Myth #4 – Old buildings are less safe.

Fact – Although historic structures do sometimes require structural retrofits or the addition of fire sprinklers to enhance safety, historic buildings typically perform better than new construction in earthquakes and other natural disasters. What determines the safety of buildings is the quality of construction, not age, and in many ways, “they just don’t build’em like they used to.”

Los Angeles’ signature historic structures have survived every major temblor of the past eight decades. In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the most catastrophic damage occurred not to historic buildings but to newer construction such as parking garages and newer apartments with “tuck-under” parking.

Myth #5 – Preservationists are always fighting new development and only care about the past.

Fact – Historic preservationists do care deeply about the past – not to wallow in a bygone era, but to anchor ourselves as we move confidently into the future. Historic preservation is not about stopping change or blocking creative new architecture and development. Preservation allows us to retain the best of our shared heritage to preserve sites of unique quality and beauty, revitalize neighborhoods, spur economic development, and quite simply, create better communities.

Excerpted from “The Top 10 Myths About Historic Preservation” by Ken Bernstein, manager of the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources.

Read Full Post »

DSC_0031Is Alhambra one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Southern California? The answer may surprise you!

From a humble log cabin to an elegant castle on a hill, Alhambra is home to more than 25 styles and sub-styles of architecture.  “Alhambra is one of the oldest cities in Southern California, and it is home to architectural styles ranging from Victorian to Mid-Century Modern and everything in between,” stated Joyce Amaro, President, Alhambra Preservation Group. “It is my belief that Alhambra is one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Southern California.”

Join Alhambra Preservation Group at their June 29, 2016 event entitled Alhambra’s Amazing Architecture for a virtual architectural tour of Alhambra’s homes, businesses, schools and places of worship spanning almost 150 years. Here are the specifics on the event:

Date:   Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Time:   7:00 p.m.

Location:   Alhambra Civic Center Library, 101 S. 1st Street, Alhambra, CA / Reese Hall

All are welcome to attend this free educational event. Ample parking is located beneath the library. There will also be a delicious selection of cookies, representing Alhambra’s diverse cultures, for everyone to enjoy.

Come discover hidden gems and be inspired to preserve and protect Alhambra’s amazing architecture!

RSVP at (626) 755-3467 or at info@AlhambraPreservation.org.



Read Full Post »


by Joyce Amaro, President

Spring is a time of new beginnings. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the new president of Alhambra Preservation Group. APG’s former president Christine Olson retired earlier this year after the death of her wife, Lisa Selje. We are so very thankful to Chris for her many years of service to Alhambra and Alhambra Preservation Group. And, while Chris will not be serving in an official capacity, she has expressed the desire to serve APG and its board in an advisory role. We welcome and appreciate her expertise, wisdom and knowledge.

APG members and supporters who are acquainted with me know that I’m no stranger to Alhambra nor the Alhambra Preservation Group. My husband Oscar co-founded the organization with Kathy Hildreth in 2002, and I was a member of the board of directors when APG became a non-profit organization in 2007. I have lived in the San Gabriel Valley my entire life, having grown up in Monterey Park and graduated from Alhambra High School. Oscar and I have resided in Alhambra since 1998. We bought and restored our 1912 Craftsman home in Alhambra’s Ramona Park area in 2000. I’ve been an integral part of APG’s various educational events and activities, from creating and organizing home tours and candidates’ forums to assisting with APG’s annual summer ice cream socials and  Heritage Awards.

I am immensely proud of Alhambra Preservation Group’s accomplishments and growth since its founding, moving from a small group of committed and passionate residents seeking change to an organization boasting a membership of more than 100 households. I hope to continue growing APG as we keep moving towards our ultimate goal of Alhambra adopting a preservation ordinance. In case you missed it, the Alhambra Source did a great article on Alhambra Preservation Group and the state of preservation efforts in Alhambra earlier this spring.

We have a very busy year ahead of us! You’ll recognize many of APG’s signature events but look for them to feature new ideas and new twists. I welcome you to join us at 11:00 a.m. at the Gamble House on Sunday, May 15 for the free Museums of the Arroyo day. It’ll give us a chance to get to know each other better and tour a national treasure. APG’s official events will begin in June and continue through the summer and fall with activities focusing on the release of Alhambra’s new General Plan, the election of two new City Council members, and APG’s annual Heritage Awards.

I look forward with enthusiasm to the coming year and am honored to be leading Alhambra Preservation Group – an organization building community and affecting positive change in Alhambra, the city I proudly call home.

Read Full Post »

1966.Clothing.StylesThe year is 1966. Mini-skirts are all the rage, international protests to the Vietnam War are beginning and Batman, a TV-series starring Adam West, debuts. And in a small Los Angeles suburb, at the invitation of Norma Yocum who is the city’s first woman mayor, a group of 21 long-time residents and civic leaders meet for the first time with the purpose of forming an organization that would be known as the Alhambra Historical Society.

On Sunday, April 30, the Alhambra Historical Society will celebrate its 50th anniversary from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the museum, 1550 West Alhambra Road, Alhambra, CA 91803. The festivities will include tours of the museum, a performance of the song “Alhambra” by a musical group from Alhambra Unified School District and a representative from Alhambra Coin Center available to evaluate the value of gold jewelry. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.

“Throughout its history, the Alhambra Historical Society has been dedicated to the acquisition and preservation of documents, artifacts and historical records of the city of Alhambra and its residents,” stated Rose Marie Markus, President of the Alhambra Historical Society. “The Society commemorates historical events and honors persons who have played a role in Alhambra’s history,” continued Markus.

Please plan on joining us in honoring Alhambra Historical Society’s 50th anniversary. Alhambra Preservation Group will have an informational table at the event and we’d love for you to come by and say hello.

Read Full Post »