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Archive for the ‘Alhambra Preservation Group’ Category

Pyrenees.Castle.Tour.APG.Groupby Oscar Amaro, Founder and President, Alhambra Preservation Group

“Historic Preservation Plays Starring Role in Alhambra’s General Plan Process”

“APG Hosts Sold-Out Tour of Alhambra’s Pyrenees Castle”

“Alhambra Craftsman Featured as Inspiration House on ‘Restored’”

“Alhambra’s Neon Signs Return in a Blaze of Glory”

Have you seen these headlines online? Perhaps you’ve reacted to or shared a recent Facebook post featuring one or more of these stories. All told, these recent historic preservation-related articles garnered an impressive 16,200 views online in 2019. Why?

The momentum for historic preservation continues to build here in Alhambra. Residents have made it clear with their words and actions that they want to preserve and protect Alhambra’s historically and architecturally significant resources. And as historic preservation continues to take center stage, Alhambra Preservation Group is proud to be at the forefront of these ongoing efforts.

It is because of Alhambra Preservation Group’s leadership and persistent lobbying over the past 13 years that historic preservation implementation action items were included in Alhambra’s General Plan and the development of a historic preservation program received a “high priority” designation.

And, it is because of your willingness to speak up at countless public workshops and city meetings that Alhambra’s leaders are finally listening and our city is taking its first steps towards developing a historic preservation program.

Be assured that Alhambra Preservation Group will be there every step of the way as we now begin the very real work of drafting and creating a historic preservation program, which includes an ordinance.

Can we count on you to join Alhambra Preservation Group and continue to financially support our efforts?

We are stronger together. It is our sincere hope that you’ll join or renew your Alhambra Preservation Group membership in 2020 and that you’ll give as generously as you are able. Memberships begin as low as $25/year at the Household level. Here are just a few of the benefits membership affords you:

  • Access to our online Resource Guide, which offers real-time listing of “member approved” home improvement vendors and contractors
  • A subscription to our informative and educational quarterly e-newsletter, APG News
  • Notification and Action Alert e-blasts about issues of concern here in Alhambra
  • Invitations to special educational events and field trips, like the free exclusive tour of Alhambra’s Pyrenees Castle which we offered to 50 members this past summer
  • The knowledge that you’re supporting an all-volunteer organization whose mission boosts Alhambra’s current civic renaissance

This year during our 2019-20 member drive, we’re pleased to also offer a special gift to two new or renewing members. Join APG during this member drive and you’ll be entered into a random drawing to win one of two $50 gift cards for Los Angeles’ newly restored Formosa Café. We will announce the lucky winners in January 2020.

Once again, 100% of the funds raised during this fall membership drive will be set aside for a future Alhambra citywide historic resources inventory. Last year APG raised $4,500 in membership dues. Those funds were earmarked for future inventory efforts. It is our goal to raise a total of $25,000 for future citywide inventory efforts.

APG celebrated quite a few milestones in 2019 – historic preservation implementation action items included in the General Plan, an Alhambra home featured on the nationally syndicated TV show Restored, and an exclusive tour of Alhambra’s Pyrenees Castle. Won’t you help Alhambra Preservation Group reach another milestone – Alhambra’s adoption of a historic preservation ordinance?

Join APG and help us do just that and thank you!

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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A 1968 LA Times article on the destruction of the City-owned property.

By Oscar Amaro, APG Founder and 2019 President

A Carnegie library with gardens designed by Frank Lloyd Wright…The 1880’s Victorian home of Captain F. Edward Gray, a prominent Los Angeles horticulturalist…A 1920’s Tudor Revival clubhouse designed by Scott Quintin a well-known Alhambra architect…A 1910-era Arts & Crafts-styled building, which was the headquarters of  “The Wednesday Afternoon Women’s Club”…The two-story Craftsman home owned by Norma Yocum, Alhambra’s first woman mayor…

Many cities would revel in the value afforded these architecturally and historically significant structures. Not in Alhambra. These are but a few of the noteworthy structures lost in the “Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley” as a result of an apathetic and negligent city hall.

Having grown up in the Alhambra/San Gabriel/Monterey Park area in the 1960s and 70s, even as a youth I was fascinated by this area’s treasure trove of historic buildings, homes, churches, schools—in addition to its rich history. Alhambrans may be unaware that US presidents found our city significant enough to make stops through here in the early part of the 20th century. Many of So Cal’s early leaders lived in Alhambra including a Captain F. Edward Gray, Los Angeles’ first commercial grower and main supplier of cut flowers to the region and president of the Southern California Horticultural Society as well as one of its first County Assessors. Captain Gray was also instrumental in securing funds to build one of Alhambra’s first schools and resided in an 1880s Victorian mansion. Captain Gray’s magnificent home was razed due to inaction and indifference on the city’s part despite strong calls from Alhambra’s residents to save it. In fact, the Alhambra Historical Society was formed in 1966 as a result of this debacle.

I moved away from this area in the early 1980s, living in both Riverside and Whittier, two cities that highly value their historic culture, architecture, and neighborhoods and take pride in these resources – as every city should. However, to be closer to work I moved back to Alhambra in the 1990s and was shocked to see so many of the historic structures that I remembered replaced by massive apartment and condo complexes. I was angered to see neighborhoods that were once quiet, picturesque and family-oriented gone. In 2000, my wife and I purchased a 1912 Craftsman home in Alhambra’s Ramona Park area. Shortly after moving in and restoring it to its period splendor, we witnessed the destruction of five 1920s bungalows just within a block of our house. That was the impetus for me to seek answers as to why this ongoing onslaught of our city’s historic character was continuing despite the Historical Society’s efforts.

When I formed Alhambra Preservation Group in 2003 with the late Katherine Hildreth, our mission was to begin lobbying our city leaders for historical and architectural protections. I naively thought that once our political leadership understood and were made aware of Alhambra’s robust architectural, historical and cultural resources, they would begin to adopt meaningful historic preservation measures.  APG set out to educate our civic leaders and Alhambrans about the need to adopt legislation. We sponsored home tours, workshops and events, and a historic homes award program. We conducted a windshield survey of Alhambra’s historic resources and mapped out Alhambra’s more than 25 architectural genres and sub-genres. We met with city leaders again and again. More than 100 of our members staged a “Stand Up for Preservation” show of support in city council chambers in 2015. But in the 16 years since APG’s formation, we have seen little to no movement on the city’s part to enact historic preservation measures. Instead, our experience with city council members has ranged from empty promises and lip service to outright obstruction.

It became apparent that there is a very real and tangible resistance within Alhambra’s government to adopt any historic preservation measures and that no amount of negotiations with [past] city council members would have had any effect.  This refusal of Alhambra’s leaders to listen to the concerns and demands of Alhambra’s residents is inexcusable.

But we are finally seeing changes.

With last year’s election, we now have several city council members who have voiced support in moving these efforts forward. Our board of directors has met with each of the newly elected council members to inform them about APG’s goals for 2019, to gauge their support and provide any guidance they may need.

What are these goals?

  • Participate in the Alhambra General Plan process, ensuring that historic preservation goals, policies and implementation action items are included in the final documents.
  • Update the partial 1984 historic resources survey and investigate what is required to conduct a citywide inventory of Alhambra’s historic resources.
  • Host an annual members event.
  • Attend city meetings including council, planning commission and the design review board as needed.
  • Monitor the status of and advocate for threatened architectural resources throughout the city.
  • Continue lobbying City Council to move forward with the development of a comprehensive historic preservation program.

APG remains committed to seeing substantive historic preservation measures enacted here in Alhambra. Nothing will deter us from our goal of preserving and protecting Alhambra’s historic homes, schools, businesses and churches. It is WAY past time.

Photo courtesy of LA Times archives.

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by Joyce Amaro, President

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”   – Margaret Mead

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ms. Mead’s words lately. At its core, Alhambra Preservation Group strives to effect positive change in Alhambra through educational and innovative programs. From our grassroots beginnings to our popular home tours, from the first-ever 2006 city council candidates’ forum to the creation of an interactive online architecture map in 2016, APG’s pioneering spirit has produced events that raise awareness, build community and bring historic preservation to the forefront of Alhambra’s civic discourse.

This past year has been no different.

  • APG celebrated the restoration of Lindaraxa Park’s one remaining entrance arch and the sensitive rehabilitation of the century-old storefront on West Alhambra Road.
  • We produced four educational videos that showcase Alhambra’s architecture and its historic neighborhoods.
  • APG wrote an emphatic response to the City of Alhambra’s draft General Plan, pointing out its non-committal historic preservation policies and goals. So far, there has been no response.

APG’s principal event of 2018 was the Kids and Candidates – A Community Engagement Forum, a city council candidates’ forum on October 11. APG was part of a coalition of five Alhambra community groups and high school students who organized this first-time event. More than 400 Alhambrans attended the evening event at Alhambra High School. Candidates discussed issues facing Alhambra, including the need for a historic preservation ordinance, tax incentives for owners of historic homes and Alhambra’s need to conduct a citywide survey of its resources.

That last issue – Alhambra’s critical need for a citywide survey of its historical, architectural and cultural resources – is guiding APG towards its next endeavor.

APG firmly believes that a baseline of Alhambra’s resources needs to be established. In 1984-85 the City of Alhambra conducted an inventory, but it only included two Alhambra neighborhoods and 34 at-large sites. As a result, the survey overlooked many historically significant structures and entire neighborhoods. It’s been 34 years since that partial inventory was conducted. Completing a citywide inventory of Alhambra’s historical, architectural and cultural resources is a crucial first step in saving our city’s historic homes, businesses, churches and schools. It’s time to finish the job!

We’ll be honest. A citywide survey is neither inexpensive nor easy. It will cost a significant amount of money and will require volunteer help. But APG is committed to leading this effort, and we can’t wait! Several historic structures are currently in jeopardy – the Queen Anne Victorian home at 403 South Garfield and Crawford’s Corner at New Avenue and Valley Boulevard top the list. If we don’t start now, we risk losing these and other historical resources. In 2019, we’ll develop a plan for conducting a citywide survey. Stay tuned for more details!

For now, we are asking that you give as generously as you can during APG’s fall membership drive and consider increasing your tax-deductible donation to assist us in funding a citywide inventory. As a member, you’ll continue to enjoy the same benefits that we’ve always offered – a quarterly e-newsletter, educational field trips and informative events. Beginning this year, members will have access to APG’s new online Resource Guide, which will replace our printed guide. Members will also receive a new thank you gift – a window decal for their home’s front window.

We thank you and greatly appreciate your support! APG has always been a pioneer and we’ll continue to develop community-based programs that lead Alhambra towards a comprehensive historic preservation program. It’s our hope that you will join us in working to fulfill Alhambra Preservation Group’s mission: “Ensuring that the historical, architectural and cultural resources of our city are identified, protected and celebrated for their contributions to Alhambra’s heritage, economy and environment.”

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

 

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Vote.2018.buttonsKids and Candidates, a community engagement forum, will be held on Thursday, October 11, 2018 from 6-8:30 p.m. at Alhambra High School, located at 101 South 2nd Street in Alhambra. The event is free to the public. Spanish and Mandarin translators will be available at the event. For more information, visit the event’s site.

Alhambra City Council candidates and Alhambra school board members have been invited to participate in the pre-election event. The round-table discussion will be moderated by Tom Hollihan, professor and director of doctoral studies at USC Annenberg School of Communications. The event is being co-sponsored by the Alhambra Teachers Association, Alhambra Preservation Group, Alhambra Source, Alhambra Latino Association and Grassroots Alhambra.

Highlights of the event will include an hour, starting at 6:00 p.m. in Alhambra High School’s quad area, where attendees and students can meet with City Council candidates, Alhambra School Board members and Alhambra community groups while enjoying a performance by the Alhambra High School Jazz Band. At 7 p.m., Alhambra City Council candidates will participate in an issues-based round-table discussion in the high school auditorium. Community planning, schools, environmental sustainability, public health and safety, historic preservation, transportation, development and infrastructure are just a few of the topics that may be discussed at the forum.

Students will be involved in many different aspects of the fair and forum. High school students will be involved in the development of potential forum questions, staff informational tables, entertain attendees at the community engagement fair and provide event support throughout the evening. “A vote is a voice,” stated Anthony Hu, student at Alhambra High School and Public Relations Committee Lead with Vote at 16-SGV. “A fundamental part of our democracy is that all community members can express their own opinions and be heard.”

The goal of the Kids And Candidates Forum is to give Alhambra City Council candidates the opportunity to discuss the various issues affecting Alhambra and provide residents and students with an opportunity to hear the candidates’ positions on these issues, according to organizing coalition members. Given the many issues facing our city, the coalition invites all Alhambrans to attend this event and receive the information they need to cast an informed vote on Election Day.

Photo courtesy of Douglas County.

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_DSC0912“We wanted to bring the ‘Wow!’ factor back,” explained Regina Cipriani, a lifelong Alhambra resident, explained.  “Now, when you open the door, you see all the wood detailing that make Craftsman homes so stunning.

Alhambra Preservation Group is honored to share the news of the completion of the beautiful, carefully and lovingly orchestrated restoration of the Cipriani Family home in Alhambra’s Ramona Park by APG member Regina Cipriani and her three siblings.

The Swiss Chalet-style Craftsman house was built in 1911. Regina’s late parents bought it in 1958, spent six months remodeling it, and then moved in with their four children. The home has been in the family ever since. The Cipriani’s are only the third owners.

Regina.Cipriani

Regina Cipriani

“It’s the only home I’ve ever known,” Regina explained, other than the lovely Alhambra English Cottage she currently occupies with her husband and three sons. “All four of us siblings have such a love for this home. We wanted to bring it back to life to showcase the unbelievable craftsmanship and wood work that define historic Craftsman homes.”

So the task began. Decades of paint was stripped off  woodwork throughout the home exposing gorgeous Douglas Fir coffered ceiling beams in the living room, plate rails and wainscoting  in the dining room and a built-in desk and bookcase in the library. They repainted the three bedrooms, the kitchen, the breakfast room, and the three bathrooms. Even the service porch received a facelift because that’s how these beautiful homes were built – artistic craftsmanship in every room. The family ripped out carpeting to reveal white oak hardwood floors and stripped off a century’s worth of wall paper to reveal baby-skin-soft plaster that had never been painted.

ReginasWallThe home also revealed surprises. A now mostly illegible message written in pencil on the plaster in the rear bedroom dated August 1912 with the name “Schmidt” and “good night,” was found hidden under wallpaper.

Much of the wood decor was missing, so the family team commissioned custom wood work and custom moldings to match the original throughout the house. They remade two rows of custom molding in the dining room. And replaced molding in the breakfast nook, custom designing it to match the original molding in the library. “There was evidence that the bookcases in the library originally had doors, so we commissioned bookcase doors designed to match the windows.” The built-in buffet in the dining room still had the original lead glass. “Bringing back the natural wood of the buffet made the lead glass sparkle and shine more than it ever did when the wood was painted,” Regina said.

The siblings discovered 10 original windows in the basement. Another surprise. They had them reinstalled and commissioned three additional windows to match. They discovered a window had once been in the door to the breakfast nook. So they put it back, custom designing the new one to match the existing window in the kitchen door. In one of the bathrooms, they discovered the original octagon-shaped tile floor, safely preserved under layers of added flooring.

Cipriani.Living.RoomAn original Craftsman-style light fixture pendant was discovered in the basement. Probably one of the 10 fixtures that originally hung from the living room beams, and a match to the existing fixture in the library. It was rewired and now hangs in the breakfast room. “You think you know a house. But with these beautiful old Craftsman homes, there is still a lot to discover.”

The full restoration took six months – November, 2017 through May, 2018. The siblings were surprised to note that this was exactly the time it took their parents to remodel the home 60 years ago. And that the restoration was completed on their late mother’s birthday.

“All four of us have such a love for this home and the work our parents put into it. We think our parents would like knowing that we have brought it back to its glory.”

Today, Cipriani family members and their children are continuing to live happily ever after in their beautifully restored Alhambra home.

Photos courtesy of Regina Cipriani and Alhambra Preservation Group.

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Survey-

Recently, the Alhambra Preservation Group conducted its first-ever online survey. We wanted to gauge what our supporters think should be our top priority for 2019 – what you and other Alhambra residents expect from APG – and what Alhambrans enjoy about APG.  Here’s what you said:

What Should APG’s Priorities Be For Next Year?  By an overwhelming majority – 94 % – you said the adoption of an Alhambra Preservation Ordinance should be APG’s top priority. Creating an inventory of Alhambra’s historic structures was second with educational and social events taking the third and fourth spots.

What Has Been Your Favorite APG-sponsored program? APG-hosted Alhambra home tours, which we pioneered beginning in 2004 came in on top, with 56% of respondents saying they liked them the best. Educational events and Candidates Forums tied for second place. Field Trips, summer ice cream socials and our recent event Coffee with a Councilmember rounded out the bottom.

Would You Consider Volunteering for an APG Event in the Future? Yes! We are proud and pleased that 88 % of all respondents said “yes,” they would consider volunteering their time for APG.

During Our 2018 Fall Membership Drive, Would You Be Willing To Ask One Neighbor/Friend to join APG?   Yes! A solid 94% of you said you would be willing to ask one neighbor and/or friend to join our organization.

If You Are a Member, What Is Your Opinion of APG’s Printed Resource Guide? The majority of folks – 56% – stated that they find it useful and reference it as needed and 22% said they love this printed piece and use it all the time. Seventeen percent said they prefer to use the Internet and 5% had no opinion.

The message is clear. The adoption of a preservation ordinance is the top priority and APG’s Board of Directors agrees. This is the only true way we can reach our goal of preserving, protecting and honoring Alhambra’s historic resources, and we will adjust our priorities to reflect this opinion.

We heard from quite a few of you, but we’d love to hear more opinions. The survey will be open until August 31. If you haven’t participated in the survey, we invite you to do so now. What do YOU think should be APG’s priorities? Let us know! The survey can be found here.

 

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by Joyce Amaro, President

Can you feel it? It’s that feeling of anticipation that goes along with change. And that change is coming in the form of new policies from the City of Alhambra, dynamic programs from Alhambra Preservation Group and the election of three new City Council members in the fall.

Draft Alhambra General Plan Released – The City of Alhambra released its draft General Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report for public review on August 3 and public comments are due by Tuesday, September 18. APG will be reviewing the draft General Plan and preparing a response. We encourage you to do the same. To learn more about how you can review the draft General Plan and comment on its contents within the 45-day public comment period, please visit the City of Alhambra’s General Plan page.

“Discovering Alhambra” Videos – Alhambra Preservation Group has been working on a series of 1-minute videos that feature the historic architecture of Alhambra and its historic neighborhoods. We’re excited to debut these short educational videos on APG’s  Facebook page. Look for them later this year!

Online Resource Guide – While we recognize the popularity of our printed Resource Guide, we felt it was time for this piece to enter the digital age and save a few trees. We will unveil our new online Resource Guide during our 2018 fall membership drive. To prepare for this online piece, we encourage you to share any vendors and/or contractors you’d like us to include in the Resource Guide by e-mailing APG at apg91802@gmail.com.

2018 Meet the Candidates Forum  – In 2006, Alhambra Preservation Group pioneered the idea of a community event where Alhambrans had the opportunity to meet and ask questions of City Council candidates. Because of APG, a Meet the Candidates Forum before City Council elections is now the norm in Alhambra. This year, we’re taking it to the next level, partnering with more than half a dozen other Alhambra non-governmental organizations to organize and host the 2018 Meet the Candidates Forum. We are just beginning to organize this event and haven’t confirmed a date yet, but you can be assured that it will be an event that you won’t want to miss. Stay tuned for more information in September!

As always, thank you for your ongoing support of Alhambra Preservation Group and for affecting real and positive change here in Alhambra.

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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