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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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Crawfords.Corner.RenderingCrawford’s Grocery chain was a quintessential Southern California success story of the 20th Century; a family business that began very humbly, with the husband and wife team of Wayland and Leemoria Crawford selling watermelons off the back of a truck. They opened their first grocery store in Los Angeles in the 1920’s, followed by a vegetable stand in the City of Bell. The couple soon determined that the rapidly developing San Gabriel Valley and northern Orange County provided a more lucrative business climate, so they opened a chain of stores, which eventually included locations in Alhambra, Glendale, El Monte, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pasadena, Rosemead and Stanton. The Crawfords’ two sons, Ray and Billy, as well as their grandchildren were closely involved in the family business from the time they were youngsters.

The original Crawford’s Market in Alhambra was built in 1929, at the corner of Valley and New, across the street from the Alhambra Airport. This location, in an otherwise agricultural area of town, captured the regular business of pilots, mechanics, and passengers, as well as families from surrounding communities. This location was followed a few years later by the opening of a second store in Alhambra, at the corner of Valley Blvd. and 9th St. (a short stroll from the Crawford home at 1842 S. 9th St.).

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Crawford’s Corner new sign.

In 1964, the Crawford family determined that their growing Alhambra enterprise required a fresh image. The architecture of the new shopping center they built was significant both for its ability to convey the principals of mid-twentieth century storefront design, as well as the Western theme they utilized as part of their marketing plan. Covered walkways, false front parapet walls, elaborate turned wood detailing and rustic signage all expressed the Old West Style. It is noteworthy that the most popular television series of 1964 was the western-themed Bonanza, set on a huge ranch near the Comstock Lode boomtown of Virginia City, Nevada. A simulation of the Old West boomtown was created here in Alhambra at Crawford’s Corner, paying homage to historical themes of American prosperity created by the settlers, prospectors, and entrepreneurs of the Mid-Nineteenth Century.

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Opening Day in 1964

As a commercial center, Crawford’s Corner comprised more than 30,000 square feet of shopping space, one third of which was dedicated to general merchandise. The many individual retail outlets originally included a drug store, barber shop, men’s clothing store, dry cleaner, shoe repair shop, ice cream parlor, fabric and sewing supply store, gift shop, and music store. In designing the new Crawford’s Corner in 1964, the owners’ intention was to project an open, friendly, community-involved image. The shopping center included a bell tower, patio area with gazebo and fountain, which was made available at no charge for community events and celebrations, including band concerts, festivities associated with the annual “Hi Neighbor” parade, and art shows. A community meeting room on the second floor was offered for indoor events such as cooking and pottery classes.

Like the Old West boomtown after which it was modeled, Crawford’s Corner has lost some its former luster but its architectural significance to Alhambra remains strong. Its one-of-a-kind mid-century architecture make it worth protecting and preserving! And, the enterprising spirit that brought success to the Crawford Family is alive and well among the current generation of entrepreneurs at Crawford’s Corner—each working tirelessly to achieve their own American dream of prosperity.

Photos courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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Lindaraxa Park Pillars Ribbon CuttingThe call came in early one morning in 2016 – one of the Lindaraxa Park pillars had been hit and destroyed by a drunk driver. Lindaraxa Park residents were concerned and worried. What was going to happen to the other pillar? Would the City restore them? Would both pillars be torn down?

Lindaraxa.Park.Ad.1912Lindaraxa Park residents and Alhambra Preservation Group representatives got to work – meeting with City of Alhambra representatives about restoring the pillars and combing through back issues of the Alhambra Advocate to try and find photos of the pillars. “We spent many hours at the library going through turn-of-the-20th-century issues of the old Alhambra Advocate newspaper,” said Joyce Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group President. “While we never did find a photo of the current-day pillars, we found many advertisements – some of them full-page ads – for ‘Court Lindaraja.’ It was breathtaking to see what developers originally had in mind for this neighborhood.”

While APG representatives researched the original pillars, the City of Alhambra secured an architect and contractor to restore the destroyed pillar and retrofit and rebuild the one remaining. The bricks from the destroyed pillar were saved and used to build a new one that included wood beams. The result is the restoration of both pillars that create a walking entrance for Lindaraxa Park on the north side of Lindaraxa Park Drive, at the intersection of Granada Avenue. Residents believe that there was at least one other pair of identical pillars on the west side of Lindaraxa Park. Unfortunately, they no longer exist. Lindaraxa Park residents are hoping to raise the needed funds and work with the City of Alhambra to restore all of Lindaraxa Park’s original entrance pillars.

And so it was on a rainy afternoon in late March that the City of Alhambra hosted a ribbon cutting for the newly restored pillars. Lindaraxa Park residents, council members and city staff were on hand to celebrate between rain showers. “We applaud the City’s decision to restore Lindaraxa’s pillars as they are an important historical characteristic of the Lindaraxa Park neighborhood,” continued Joyce Amaro. “The fact that the City of Alhambra was willing to allocate funds for the pillars’ restoration is an indication that the City’s views towards the importance of preserving Alhambra are changing.”

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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2018As we kick off a new year, Alhambra Preservation Group is excited about the activities, programs and initiatives planned for 2018!

City of Alhambra Historic Preservation Program – With the City of Alhambra beginning the process of developing a historic preservation program, APG will be focused primarily this year on working with the City of Alhambra to ensure that the city’s historic preservation program includes elements that preserve and protect Alhambra and works for our unique community. We’ll provide periodic updates and make sure everyone is aware of any upcoming City of Alhambra-hosted community meetings.

Huntington Langham Hotel Tour – For our winter field trip, we’ll be touring the Huntington Langham Hotel on Saturday, March 3. Join us for this free tour of one of the San Gabriel Valley’s most popular landmarks.

“Quiet on the set! Action!” – APG is working on a series of educational videos that we’ll debut in the spring. These short 1-minute videos will focus on educating residents about Alhambra’s historic neighborhoods, their unique cultural resources and the need to #PreserveAlhambra!

Neighborhood Steward Program – In the summer, we’ll kick off a new initiative we’re calling our Neighborhood Steward Program. We’ll pilot this initiative in several historic tracts in Alhambra with a few “Preservation Picnics.” It’ll be a way for us to create more community here in Alhambra, teach residents about their historic neighborhoods and the benefits of historic preservation.

City Council Candidates Forum – On November 6, Alhambrans will go to the polls to elect three new city council members. To make sure voters have the opportunity to meet the candidates and learn their positions on the major issues facing our city, APG will once again partner with the Pasadena League of Women Voters and host the 2018 City Council Candidates Forum.

This year is shaping up to be an exciting year for Alhambra Preservation Group! Become a member and join this vibrant group that is protecting neighborhoods, building community and preserving Alhambra!

Photo courtesy of marketingland.com.

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DUE TO AN OVERWHELMING RESPONSE, THE TOUR IS FULL!

Update: Due to the overwhelming response, we are limiting the tour to the first 60 people who check in at the hotel lobby. Once we reach the 60 person cap, unfortunately we will have to turn people away and ask them to return another day. But remember! This tour is offered daily by the Langham Huntington Hotel and if you are turned away on March 3, you can take the same great tour at a later date. While we are thrilled that so many people are interested in touring this historic hotel, we underestimated the level of interest in an event of this kind and are needing to limit the number. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

It’s been a famed Pasadena landmark for more than 100 years in Pasadena, offering guests enchanting hospitality since 1914. To celebrate the hotel’s tenth anniversary as a Langham property, the public has the opportunity to take a historical property tour of the Langham Huntington Hotel.

Join Alhambra Preservation Group on a tour of this historic hotel on March 3, 2018. The tour is free and gives attendees an overview of the hotel’s history, its elegant ballrooms and lounges as well as its beautiful gardens and courtyard and pool area.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

2:00 p.m.

The Langham Huntington Hotel

1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue

Pasadena, CA 91106

Valet parking is available for $6 with validation from one of the hotel’s restaurants. There is no street or self-parking available. Carpooling is encouraged. Please meet in the hotel’s main lobby.

Please contact info@alhambrapreservation.org if you have any concerns or questions. Do not contact the hotel directly. Thank you!

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and the Langham Huntington Hotel.

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Marcello.LA.ConservancyClose to 100 people were in attendance at the City of Alhambra’s kick-off community meeting on December 12, 2017 regarding the development of a historic preservation program. Dozens of members of the Alhambra Preservation Group, as well as a representative with the Los Angeles Conservancy, were in attendance to provide input and feedback to the City of Alhambra regarding which elements need to be included in the City’s historic preservation program.

“We are pleased that the City of Alhambra is finally recognizing the value of preserving and protecting its cultural, historical and architectural resources,” stated Joyce Amaro, President of the Alhambra Preservation Group. “APG is excited to be an active partner in developing a preservation program that fits our unique community,” continued Amaro.

During this kick-off meeting, City of Alhambra Director of Development Services, Marc Castagnola provided a presentation on the development of a historic preservation program and the input being solicited by the City of Alhambra. After the presentation,  attendees were separated into four different working groups to provide input into what elements need to be included and what issues needed to be addressed in the development of a historic preservation program for Alhambra.

“After so many years of talking with Alhambrans about the benefits of historic preservation, it was gratifying to me to witness the very positive response of our citizens to this issue in the General Planning process,” said Christine Olson, Alhambra Preservation Group’s immediate past President. “I was pleased that the City responded with the December public meeting and I look forward to more substantive meetings in the near future,” continued Olson.

The City of Alhambra welcomes additional input regarding this program. Alhambra Preservation Group is in the process of drafting a position letter on the development of Alhambra’s historic preservation program. If you were not able to attend the December 12 meeting, but would like to provide input, please visit the City’s historic preservation program web page.

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APG.Board.2011This is an exciting time for Alhambra Preservation Group. We’re on the cusp of adopting a preservation ordinance here in Alhambra, and we need your help in ensuring that Alhambra keeps moving forward towards adopting legislation that will protect our historic homes, businesses, churches and schools. We’re looking for a few members who are interested in taking the next step and serving on APG’s board of directors.

Will you consider helping Alhambra Preservation Group and Alhambra? We’re looking for a few talented and conscientious volunteer board members to lead and strengthen our organization. If you can contribute your time, thoughtfulness and leadership one evening a month for meetings and a few hours a month for programs development and implementation, please e-mail us at info@alhambrapreservation.org to learn more and find out if this volunteer opportunity is right for you. We’re especially looking for folks with an interest in local history and are familiar with Word and Excel. Knowledge of social media platforms like Facebook or Constant Contact would be a plus!

Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you!

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