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Archive for October, 2017

 

Chapel.JohnsonWe’ve all heard stories about the woman who finds a Picasso painting tucked away in a long-forgotten corner of her attic or the man who happens upon a letter penned by John F. Kennedy tucked between the pages of his grandmother’s diary.  Alhambra has a recently discovered architectural gem of its own in the historic Chapel of Saints Simon and Jude.

Alhambra’s quaint Chapel of Saints Simon and Jude, which will be adapted and reused within the proposed Camellia Court development, was designed by Reginald Davis Johnson, a renowned architect, who shaped Santa Barbara’s visual identity and designed National Register of Historic Places-worthy homes, public buildings and churches. Reginald Davis Johnson’s designs range from the Biltmore hotel in Santa Barbara to All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, from elegant mansions to nationally recognized public housing projects.

Join Alhambra Preservation Group and Alhambra Historical Society at a co-sponsored event to explore the life and architectural designs of Reginald Davis Johnson, Alhambra’s link to this architectural visionary and learn more about other architects whose designs can be found in Alhambra’s neighborhoods.

Exploring Alhambra’s Link to An Architectural Visionary

7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Alhambra Masonic Lodge

9 West Woodward Avenue, Alhambra, CA 91801

 

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Parade-f-house

A 1912 photo of one of the Arts and Crafts homes that caught APG President Joyce Amaro’s eye in 1984.

by Joyce Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group President

My sister Jeanette rolled her eyes from the passenger seat of my mom’s 1960 white Oldsmobile as I began slowly backing the car out of the garage. Our father stood in front of us, pumping his forearms up and down like an airport maintenance worker and Jeanette always found Daddy’s “guidance” annoying. It was the fall of 1984, and I was a high school senior with newly earned driving privileges. I knew the road to Alhambra High School well from my parents’ home in Monterey Park. I would drive up Sixth Street from Garvey Avenue, always slowing down just north of the San Bernardino Freeway to glance at a few of my favorite homes in Alhambra, a small collection of Spanish Colonial Revival and Arts and Crafts houses.

Unlike that well-traveled route to Alhambra High, the road to preservation here in Alhambra hasn’t been as smooth. Alhambra Preservation Group has worked tirelessly for the past decade to educate Alhambrans on the value of preserving cultural resources. We’ve hosted home tours, sponsored candidates’ forums, lobbied Alhambra officials, and organized educational events – all with the goals of raising awareness about Alhambra’s diverse architecture and adopting legislation that would preserve and protect historically and architecturally significant homes. This past spring APG board members presented information on an APG-created Google map that documents Alhambra’s myriad architectural styles at the California Preservation Foundation’s annual conference. This past summer, APG sponsored a “Coffee with a Council Member” event, providing Alhambrans with the opportunity to meet and ask questions of Alhambra’s newly elected council members, Jeff Maloney and David Mejia.

As Alhambra Preservation Group celebrates its 10th anniversary I am pleased to announce that we are finally seeing the fruits of our labor. This past summer, the City of Alhambra stated that it would pursue a historic preservation ordinance. We are thrilled with this development and happy to see that the City of Alhambra is finally serious about an ordinance that will preserve and protect Alhambra’s architectural gems. Another recent victory was the decision by the developer of the Camellia Court project to retain the historically significant Chapel of Saint Simon and Jude. This decision represents a shift in how historically and architecturally significant structures are viewed in Alhambra. APG is proud of the role our organization played in advocating for the adaptive reuse of this chapel.

So, while we are closer to a preservation ordinance and positive changes in how historically and architecturally significant structures are viewed in Alhambra, APG’s work is far from done. We continue to need your financial support as we work with the City of Alhambra to shepherd a preservation ordinance through the approval process. It is our hope that you will choose to support Alhambra Preservation Group in 2018, so that we can shift gears and begin the very real process of enacting a preservation ordinance in Alhambra. We invite you to join or renew your membership in APG during our annual membership drive and to give as generously as you’re able. As an all-volunteer non-profit organization, we rely on your contributions of time and money. We thank you and appreciate your ongoing support!

More than 30 years later, I am still admiring that quaint cluster of homes on South Sixth Street in Alhambra’s Ramona Park. The difference is that now I call one of those beautiful Craftsman houses my home, and I’m thrilled that Alhambra is closer than ever to legislation that will protect it for generations to come!

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107.Champion.Place

A century ago, Alhambra (and America) was a vastly different place. The United States had just entered World War I and the women’s suffrage movement was gaining ground. In 1917, it cost just two cents to mail a letter and a mere seven cents to see a movie. A Sears kit home cost between $191 and $2,632! Because of the uncertainty caused by the war, America experienced a pause in home construction in 1917 and this housing lull affected Alhambra as well. However, Alhambra does have at least one 1917 home that is still standing here in our city.

This home was constructed in the Arts and Crafts style with a slight nod to the Colonial Revival. Located on Champion Place within the original Alhambra Tract, this home was constructed by the property’s original owners, the Champion family, and has ties to the colony of prominent Western artists – which came be known as Artist’s Alley – who lived and worked in this small neighborhood.

When first built in 1917, this home was assessed at $1,730. Allan and Estella Bard purchased the home from the Champion family in 1919 and were its first documented residents. The Bards came to California from the Midwest, having raised three children in Cleveland and Chicago. Allen Bard got his start in the jewelry business at age 21 in 1875 and continued in the sale of precious stones after moving to Alhambra. Between 1919 and present day, 10 different families have called this house “home.” Those residents ranged from an up and coming West Coast artist to a Borax accountant, from a microbiologist to a Los Angeles Community College professor.

This year, this grand home joins many other Alhambra homes that have reached the 100-year mark. Join us in celebrating this home’s truly sensational centennial!

Photo courtesy of Sherrie Watson.

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