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DecadeHappy 10th Birthday, Alhambra Preservation Group!

This year Alhambra Preservation Group celebrates 10 years as a non-profit organization. Founded in 2003 by Katherine Hildreth and Oscar Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group began as a small group of concerned Alhambra residents who loved local history and wanted to stop the razing of historic homes and structures in Alhambra. Today, APG boasts a membership of more than 100 households.

“For 10 years, APG has been a pioneering force, educating Alhambrans and advocating for the preservation of Alhambra’s historic resources,” stated Joyce Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group President. “APG’s inaugural home tour in 2004 introduced Southern California to Alhambra’s beautiful Arts and Crafts homes. Likewise, APG’s Meet the Candidates Forum in 2006, hosted in partnership with the Pasadena League of Women’s Voters, was the first time in Alhambra’s history that residents had the opportunity to ask questions of candidates running for Alhambra City Council,” continued Amaro.

Alhambra Preservation Group continues that pioneering spirit today with its advocacy and activism. In 2015, it rallied its members to lobby for the inclusion of a Preservation Element in Alhambra’s update to its General Plan. Because of APG’s efforts, 52% of Alhambrans surveyed stated that historic preservation should be a priority in the City of Alhambra’s future planning efforts.

In 2016, APG developed a Google Map that identified more than 500 historic homes, businesses, churches and schools that still stand in Alhambra. A presentation given by APG board members last summer highlighted Alhambra’s architectural resources and asserted that Alhambra is one of Southern California’s most architecturally diverse cities, featuring close to 25 different architectural genres and sub-genres. Because of these mapping efforts, APG has been invited by the California Preservation Foundation to make a presentation on the Google map at CPF’s annual conference, which will take place in Pasadena in May, 2017.

Last year also saw the creation of the Advocacy and Action Committee. This committee has been integral in re-establishing APG’s presence at City Hall and monitoring community development activities.

The coming year will be no different. We’re gearing up for a year of education and advocacy. Here are just a few of the activities we’re planning:

  • Join us on a free tour of the Pasadena Tournament House on February 23. APG board member, Barbara Beckley, a former Rose Princess, will co-lead a tour of this mansion, which was the winter home of William and Ada Wrigley and now serves as the headquarters of the Tournament of Roses.
  • A “Meet Your New Councilmembers” event in the spring will give APG members the opportunity to meet Alhambra’s two new council members, Jeff Maloney and David Mejia.
  • In the summer we will organize a special 10-year fundraising campaign and Thank You APG Members event.
  • Our annual Heritage Awards in the fall will honor Alhambra homeowners and residents. This year we’ll be introducing the Founder’s Award, which will honor an Alhambran whose work in the area of historic preservation has been especially noteworthy.
  • We’ll also look to the future, asking members and residents to provide input on what APG’s goals should be for the next 10 years.

Are you ready to celebrate with us? It’s going to be an exciting year!

Photo courtesy of craft hubs.com.

tournament-of-roses-houseJoin Alhambra Preservation Group on February 23, 2017 for a free tour of the historic Wrigley mansion in Pasadena that now serves as the headquarters, or Tournament House, for the Tournament of Roses. This tour will be co-led by APG’s very own vice president, Barbara Beckley, who is celebrating her 50th anniversary of being a Rose Princess. Here’s all you need to know about the tour:

Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017

Time: 3:00 p.m. (please meet at 2:45 on the home’s front porch)

Cost: Free! The tour is offered at no charge by the Tournament of Roses.

Location: 391 South Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91184

RSVP by February 21, 2017 at (626) 755-3467 or info@alhambrapreservation.org

Parking is available in a small lot on the Tournament of Roses property or on adjacent streets. Please note that the tour will include stairs.

After the tour, we’ll stop by Twoheys restaurant in Alhambra for a no-host dinner.

Built in 1914 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr, this Italian Renaissance-style mansion was considered one of the more modest homes on Pasadena’s “Millionaire’s Row.” The three-story mansion was built for $170,000 and has 22 rooms totaling 18,500 square feet of living space. Of the Wrigley’s six residences throughout the United States, Ada Wrigley considered this home her favorite.

Photo courtesy of the Tournament of Roses.

januaryWe’re all well into our 2017 new year resolutions by now, and no doubt, some resolutions are proving harder to keep than others. So to make things a bit easier, here are two simple ways to support your community and Alhambra Preservation Group in the new year:

1. Make a special donation to APG. We know protecting Alhambra’s neighborhoods is important to you. Won’t you consider making a special contribution? Your financial support ensures that we can keep working towards protecting and preserving Alhambra’s historic and cultural resources. Contact us today at info@alhambrapreservation.org to learn more.

2. Get involved and stay informed: Attend an APG-sponsored event, volunteer with APG’s Advocacy and Action Committee, attend a City of Alhambra Planning Commission, City Council or Design Review Board meeting, talk to your neighbors about APG and the importance of protecting Alhambra’s neighborhoods, like APG on Facebook or visit our website to learn about preservation myths and facts.

While we can’t help you lose those pesky holiday pounds, we can help you feel better about getting involved in Alhambra and being more engaged in your neighborhood. We’re asking for just two in the new year! And, thanks!

Photo courtesy of Imams Online.

santa-reading-lettersWe’re pretty sure that Santa’s office looks a lot like APG’s new office at The Alhambra! Santa’s office probably features warm Mahogany walls, beautiful interior staircases and Mid-Century furniture…OK, maybe not the Mid-Century furniture…

As you may remember, Alhambra Preservation Group moved into its new office located at The Alhambra this past summer. Now is your opportunity to come by, take a peek at APG’s new location and enjoy The Alhambra’s Santa Night on Thursday, December 8. Here’s all you need to know:

Event: APG’s Open House and The Alhambra’s Santa Night

Location: The Alhambra, 1000 S. Fremont Avenue, Alhambra, CA  91803

Date: Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hours: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

We hope you’ll put this event on your calendar and visit us at our new office! We’d appreciate it if you could RSVP at (626) 755-3467 or info@alhambrapreservation.org. We’ll have cookies and coffee to share, you’ll get to explore The Alhambra’s historic campus and you may even get to meet St. Nick himself!

image-8

by M. Michelson, APG Board of Directors

Thanks to one of our vigilant members who apprised us of the gigantic “For Sale” sign posted at 403 South Garfield Avenue, Alhambra Preservation Group’s Advocacy & Action Committee has been involved in researching the impressive and unique, multi-story triplex on the corner of South Garfield Avenue and West Beacon Street, two blocks south of Alhambra’s main post office. Together with its three adjacent parcels, this property is being sold for likely commercial development.

image-7The 1920 U.S. Census shows that 403 S. Garfield was originally used as multi-family housing. According to an early 20th Century Alhambra directory, two families lived in what is the oldest and largest structure on the lot. Clifford H. Everdon, a shoe salesman, and his wife Edith and their daughter and son, rented the property along with the Coleman family. Calvin Coleman, who was a laborer in an oil field, also lived there with his wife and son.

The LA County Assessor’s Office shows three structures on the property, with the oldest possibly dating from 1918, though we estimate it is older than that based on its Victorian architectural features. Flanked on either side by what looks like the original grove of trees, it is listed at 3,370 square feet with six bedrooms and two baths; a one-room sleeping porch was added in 1927. Also on the lot are two other units, both built in 1941, each with one bedroom and one bathroom.

In July 2015, J&KD LLC bought this property for $3.1 million from ANJ LLC, just 2 months after ANJ LLC bought it for $600,000 from Eretz G4 Properties LLC. It is now on the market again.

We are very concerned about developers razing Alhambra’s heritage along with this historic house, one of few remaining Victorian homes in Alhambra. This is a unique exemplar of how early Alhambrans lived and needs to be saved! If you have further information or photos of this property, or if you want to join the Advocacy & Action Committee to help save 403 South Garfield Avenue, please contact APG at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

image-13More than 100 residents from every Alhambra neighborhood attended the 2016 Meet the Candidates Forum hosted by the Alhambra Preservation Group and moderated by the League of Women Voters-Pasadena Area on October 5 at Almansor Court. All four of the Alhambra City Council candidates were in attendance and answered questions from the audience. Audience questions asked for the candidate’s positions on issues ranging from the adoption of a preservation ordinance to the creation of a more environmentally sustainable city, from the completion of the 710 Freeway to concerns regarding future development in Alhambra.

“The Meet the Candidates Forum provided the perfect venue for Alhambrans to meet and get to know the candidates who are running for Alhambra City Council,” stated Joyce Amaro, President of the Alhambra Preservation Group. “APG was proud to partner with the League of Women Voters – Pasadena Area in providing this opportunity for the voters of Alhambra,” continued Amaro.

Here’s what forum attendees had to say about the evening’s event:

“This provided the community the one opportunity to see the candidates face to face.”

“The forum provided direct access to candidates’ positions and quality of responses.”

“I liked hearing the concerns of the audience brought up many issues I had not considered.”

“It was good to hear all of the candidates respond to the same questions – and struggle to answer some of them. This was a rare opportunity to compare their viewpoints and perspectives, side-by-side.”

The candidates attending included Jeff Maloney and Mark Nisall, who are running for Alhambra Council District 3 and David Mejia and Ken Toh, who are running for Alhambra Council District 4.

Please remember to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8.

Photo courtesy of Sherrie Watson, Alhambra Preservation Group.

img_9564by Joyce Amaro, President

It took my breath away! This past spring as I was driving through Alhambra searching for homes to feature in Alhambra Preservation Group’s summer event, Alhambra’s Amazing Architecture, I saw a house that made me catch my breath and hit the brakes. It was a small, yet quaint Spanish home sited diagonally on a corner lot. A “crown” was perched atop three arches that framed its front porch, giving it a regal look. I marveled at the uniqueness of its design. I admired the intricate inlaid tile work in its arches. I smiled at finding a new architectural gem in my hometown.

Discovering new architectural gems is just one of the benefits of being a member of Alhambra Preservation Group (APG). From our home tours to our Meet the Candidates Forums, from our educational talks to our field trips, APG strives to provide programs and events to further our mission of historic preservation. This past year was no different. I am immensely proud of APG’s recent accomplishments:

  • Residential awareness about Alhambra’s architectural and historical resources is at an all-time high because of events like the one APG sponsored this past June that highlighted our city’s architecture and established Alhambra as one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Southern California.
  • Fifty-two percent (52%) of Alhambrans who submitted a written survey as part of the city’s General Plan process in 2015 said that historic preservation should be a priority for the City of Alhambra. This was a direct result of APG’s education of residents about the need for a preservation ordinance and APG’s promotion of the survey.
  • APG’s online presence continues to grow with a new interactive Google map documenting more than 500 historic homes in Alhambra.
  • APG’s newly-formed Advocacy and Action Committee monitors city meeting agendas for items of interest and will create “calls to action” when issues arise.

So, what is APG’s goal for 2017? Alhambra’s adoption of a preservation ordinance! This has always been our #1 goal, and we won’t stop fighting for this until Alhambra enacts one. We’re closer than we’ve ever been, but we still have a lot of work to do. Even as I write this, a beautiful three-story Victorian home on South Garfield Avenue faces an uncertain future because Alhambra has no legislation to stop the razing of historically or architecturally significant homes, schools, churches or commercial buildings. Alhambra is long overdue for the adoption of a preservation ordinance. We need your help to do this!

We invite you to join or renew your membership in Alhambra Preservation Group during our fall membership campaign and to give as generously as you’re able. As an all-volunteer non-profit organization, we greatly value and rely on your contributions of time and money. We thank you for your support in helping APG to continue its programming and advocacy for the preservation of Alhambra homes and buildings of architectural significance.

As a special thank you, we’re inviting APG members to an exclusive event on November 30 at my home. This “Evening with the Author” event will feature a discussion by Dr. Denise Lawrence-Zuniga, a professor of Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona and APG member. At this evening event, she’ll be discussing her recently published book, Protecting Suburban America, which includes a section on APG and its preservation work here in Alhambra. I’d love to meet you and welcome you into my home, so I invite you to join APG!

And, yes, that unique Spanish home is still there, on the southwest corner of South Electric Avenue and Acacia Street, just south of Main Street. Why don’t you drive by yourself and discover another one of Alhambra’s architectural gems that deserves to be preserved and protected?