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Archive for the ‘Alhambra Preservation Group’ Category

The.Granada.Present.Day

This year we are focusing on 1920s Alhambra. In this issue, we shine the spotlight on three 1920s-era buildings that are still standing in Alhambra and retain many of their defining characteristics, almost a century after they were built.

Architecturally, the 1920s introduced Art Deco, Neo-Gothic, and Beaux-Arts and many other styles of architecture to the world. It was no different in Southern California. Here in Alhambra, the Roaring Twenties was a time of tremendous growth and change as our young city welcomed a huge influx of new residents and businesses; a decade in which the local population tripled in size. It was the Jazz Age, when “Anything goes!” was the mood and everything seemed possible. Construction exploded and Alhambra saw the design of buildings that ranged from a Carnegie-funded Greek Revival-styled library to an Egyptian-themed movie theater. Sadly, many of these 1920s-era buildings have either been razed or altered beyond recognition.

Despite significant losses through the decades, Alhambra still has a number of outstanding examples of 1920s-era architecture. These buildings should be preserved, protected and celebrated. The Granada, formerly the LA Gas and Electric Corporation headquarters; the Carmelite Monastery on Alhambra Road; and The Alhambra, formerly the C F Braun & Co. headquarters, are shining examples of how the architecture of the 1920s touched the lives of Alhambrans a century ago and how that architecture still influences us today.

The Granada, formerly the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation

The.Granada.Present.DayConstructed in 1929 at a cost of $160,000, the building was designed by LA Gas Company architects and engineers to evoke the period of the Italian Renaissance. Arched window and door openings predominate, with a glazed terra cotta base surmounted with varied-colored brick in harmonizing shades.

On September 7, 1929 the company held an “open house” at its handsome new office building. The public was invited to visit and to view the beautiful new offices. Music was furnished for the occasion by the company’s own orchestra, comprised entirely of Gas Company employees. Refreshments were served, and Manager Roy C. Gardner was on hand to greet the public as host of the gala event.

The.Granada.1930sNewspapers of the day raved about the impressive design and architecture of the building. The first floor contained the main lobby and corporate business offices, manager’s office, investigation room, vault, and distribution department offices.

Of beam and girder design, the interior featured floral decorations in pastel shades ornamenting the soffits and molds of the beams. In the northeast corner of the lobby was an enormous fireplace with a mantle of onyx inserts. The frontage on 1st Street was divided into large display windows, which were flood-lighted for the display of various household gas appliances. The main public stairs leading to the mezzanine floor featured a balustrade of ornamental ironwork. A mezzanine bordered the south and west walls and served as the display and demonstration area for the new gas- and electric-powered household appliances. The woodwork and doors on the first and mezzanine floors were of mahogany, as was the main public stairway leading to the second floor.

At one end of the lobby, a raised platform showcased the installed, fully equipped model tiled kitchen whose purpose was to introduce the public to the uses and benefits of natural gas, “The Modern Fuel.” The demonstration kitchen at the Los Angeles Gas and Electric Corporation was in frequent use as the venue for cooking classes and “household expositions” conducted by Florence Austin Chase, a nationally-known authority on home economics who also wrote a “women’s column” in the Alhambra Post-Advocate.

The Gas Company maintained offices at this location until 1965 when the building was sold to the West San Gabriel Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. Today it is The Granada, a dance studio, nightclub, and event facility.

The Carmelite Monastery

Carmelite.Monastery.Main.Photo

The Carmel of St. Teresa in Alhambra was established in 1913, when five Carmelite Sisters left St. Louis, Missouri to establish a cloistered monastery in the Los Angeles area. Led by their Prioress, Mother Baptista, they lived in rented houses for 10 years until the present monastery could be built in Alhambra—the first one of their order in California. The cornerstone for this building was laid in June of 1922, with members of all Catholic orders in the Los Angeles area present at the ceremony.

A dignified Mediterranean Renaissance Revival building clad in red brick and capped by gabled roofs of red clay tile, the residence and sanctuary reflect their inspiration—cloistered European convents of the 16th and 17th Centuries. An outstanding example of Carmelite.Loggiasthis type and style of architecture, the convent was described in the Pasadena Post upon its opening on June 24, 1923 as “one of the finest in the United States”. A classically articulated portal of pre-cast concrete defines the monastery’s entrance. The first floor of the convent is defined by loggias at the south and west elevations, which overlook a broad expanse of lawn and garden.

The convent’s sanctuary faces Alhambra Road. Reached by two flights of shallow steps, the entry is framed by columns that are surmounted by a classical entablature, consisting of an elaborately molded architrave and frieze and a broken scroll pediment. The name of the convent is chiseled into the frieze. Centered above the entrance, a deeply inset circular window is adorned by a quatrefoil reveal of cast stone. This site, at the corner of Monterey Street and Alhambra Road, was selected for the convent because of its particular beauty. Originally an orange grove, the site’s location provided an unrestricted view of the San Gabriel Mountains to the east, with snow-capped ranges just beyond.

John_C._AustinAlhambra’s Carmelite Monastery was designed by one of Southern California’s most prominent architects. John C. Austin was born in England in 1870, immigrating to California in the 1890’s. He established an architectural practice in Los Angeles in 1895. Austin was very active in local civic affairs, serving as President of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Southern California Historical Society, and the Jonathan Club, as well as the California Board of Architectural Examiners. He designed some of the most famous and easily-recognized landmark buildings in the Los Angeles area, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among these distinguished buildings are the Los Angeles City Hall, the Shrine Auditorium, and the Griffith Observatory.

The Alhambra, formerly the C F Braun & Co. Headquarters

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Carl Franklin Braun, the founder C F Braun & Co. was a man who was always looking forward. Born in Oakland, CA in 1884, the son of California pioneers of Swedish and Danish descent, Carl Braun grew to be a man of many talents — an engineer, a salesman, a bibliophile, a teacher and an author. He studied mechanical engineering at Stanford University and started C F Braun & Co. in 1909 with a few associates and $500 capital. His firm would go on to become a 20th century leader in petro-chemical engineering, making substantial contributions to the World War II effort by working around the clock to build plants that produced aviation-grade fuel and synthetic rubber.

Braun Portrait.1954C F Braun & Co. moved its international headquarters to Alhambra from San Francisco in 1921. The complex included towering brick walls, 22 buildings and a landscaped plaza on 36 acres. The primary building material for this “modern office complex” was brick – all purchased from the same San Francisco manufacturer. Braun was a practical man, an engineer, who didn’t hesitate to move or modify buildings — or to build new ones — according to the nature of the work in which the company was involved and the functional needs of its various manufacturing projects. The significance — and the beauty — of this campus is that, through dozens of modifications and 92 years of operation, purposeful attention to architectural character and detail has preserved the integrated whole.

Braun.interior Office Complex.1952-1C F Braun & Co.’s interior offices featured wood paneling and were “pleasingly appointed and well-lighted” as described in a promotional brochure. It had every amenity needed for a modern manufacturing plant including a state-of-the-art engineering library, woman’s lounge, men’s locker room, a restaurant and a medical office staffed by an on-site physician. Mr. Braun’s goal was to “provide comfortable and pleasant surroundings for its workers, of every class, that they may have pleasure in their work and pride in their plant and product.” He took a great deal of pride in the “modern workplace” that he created.

The Granada, the Carmelite Monastery and The Alhambra are an integral part of Alhambra’s story. They inform Alhambrans about what life was like and how people lived and worked during the 1920s – a time of intense growth in our city. They offer a visual history. Their designs were thoughtful. Their materials and workmanship reveal the artistry, industry and aesthetic of the people who built them and the time in which they were built. When we allow historic buildings to be demolished, we sacrifice those touchstones that, by revealing our past, can help to inform decisions about our future.

Alhambra Preservation Group continues its work to protect and preserve Alhambra’s local historic and architectural landmarks and to celebrate their unique and irreplaceable contributions to our city’s community and culture.

A special thank you to Chris Olson, former president and board of member of Alhambra Preservation Group, for her assistance in writing this article.

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Virtual.Yosemite.3With Covid-19 turning our lives upside down, we’re all looking for ways to occupy our time while we stay safer at home. Why not take advantage of all the free virtual tours available online? 

From a spooky Gothic revival mansion in New York to Pasadena’s iconic Gamble house, there are dozens of architecturally and historically significant homes, museums and sites for you to tour virtually. Below you’ll find just a sampling of available virtual tours. Grab your drink of choice, sit down in your favorite easy chair and enjoy touring these architectural gems from the comfort of your own home.

Gothic Revival

Lyndhurst Mansion is one of America’s finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture. Built in 1838 in Tarryton, NY, overlooking the Hudson River, it is surrounded by park-like gardens. Start your virtual tour here.

Victorian

Mark Twain lived with his family in a Victorian home in Hartford, CT between 1874 and 1891. This was the home where he wrote his classics including The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Now you can virtually tour this home

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA began as an eight-room farmhouse but grew to a 24,000 square foot, 160-room home when Sarah Winchester owned it. Much of its construction happened between 1886 and 1922, at the height of Victorian design. A virtual tour of this sprawling mansion is available for purchase. 

Arts and Crafts

As a British poet, textile designer and novelist, William Morris is often associated with the early Arts and Crafts movement. The William Morris Society, whose mission is to perpetuate the memory of one of the greatest men of the Victorian age, offers a virtual tour of their museum. William Morris’ country home, the Red House, located in Bexleyheath, England, also provides a virtual peek inside

Charles Rennie Mackintosh had a relatively short architectural career but his impact was significant. Virtual tours of several of his designs are available – 78 Derngate is a Northampton, UK home, designed as a “charming and up-to-date miniature residence.” The Mackintosh House in Glasgow, Scotland is a meticulous re-assembly of Charles and Margaret Mackintosh’s home. Mackintosh’s iconic 1903 Willows TeaRoom can also be toured virtually.

It’s in our backyard, but we’re betting that there’s a few of you who have never toured Pasadena’s Gamble House. Known as an Arts and Crafts masterpiece, the Gamble House was the summer home of the Gamble family and built in 1907 by Charles and Henry Greene. Now you can tour this iconic Arts and Crafts home virtually

Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel is one of the crown jewels of our national park lodges. Built in the 1920s to attract well-to-do guests, the Ahwahnee’s Great Lounge and Dining Room are breathtaking and not to be missed. Now these majestic rooms, as well as its other cozier public rooms, can be toured virtually. If you’re interested, you can tour all of Yosemite virtually

Spanish

Did you know that the word Alhambra comes from an Arabic root that means “red or crimson castle”? That’s how the Alhambra of Granada, Spain was named. Now you can tour this Moorish palace and fortress virtually and learn more about this 8th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site from which our city derives its name.

Built overlooking beautiful Biscayne Bay, Florida, Vizcaya is a Mediterranean Revival-style villa designed by architect Francis Burral Hoffman and built by millionaire James Deering in the early 20th century. Italian Renaissance-style gardens surround the $15 million home. Sadly, James Deering died before Vizcaya was completed. Its beautiful rooms and gardens can be toured virtually

His architecture may not qualify as Spanish – his designs fall more into the Catalan Modernist genre – but Antoni Gaudi is a distinctly Spanish architect. Google Arts & Culture offers virtual tours of 11 of Gaudi’s most well-known designs from La Basilica de Sagrada Familia to Park Guell. If you’re not familiar with him, take some time to discover the unique architecture of Antoni Gaudi. We promise these virtual tours will leave you amazed and figuring out how you can get to Barcelona to see Gaudi’s designs in person.

Mid-Century Modern

Atomic Ranch has done a wonderful job curating eight mid-century modern homes into which we can take a peek. From Palm Springs to Portland, from South Carolina to Sweden, check out this article where you can escape to the mid-century modern world of floor-to-ceiling windows sporting amazing views, picture-perfect split levels and bright orange fire hoods. 

Want more? House Beautiful has compiled a listing of virtual tours of historic sites around the world including the Eiffel Tower, Machu Pichu and the Taj Mahal. Your trip to some of our planet’s most beautiful sites, begins here.

Have you taken any other virtual tours while staying safer at home? Share your virtual tours with us at info@alhambrapreservation.org and we’ll share them on our Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Virtual Yosemite and Alhambra Preservation Group.

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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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1968-article

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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