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Posts Tagged ‘Alhambra Preservation Group’

Easter.EggsMany of you may be familiar with Easter eggs. No, not the kind filled with candy that children go hunting for this time of year. The Easter eggs we’re referring to are hidden features, messages or images in a video game. With the holiday weekend upon us, we thought it would be fun to highlight some of Alhambra’s architectural Easter eggs – those architecturally significant structures and/or features that may be easy to miss if you’re not looking for them. Here are just a few – waiting to be found by you!

Millard.Sheets.muralMillard Sheets Murals at Mark Keppel High School – In the late 1930s, as Alhambra’s Mark Keppel High School was being built, Millard Sheets – a Chouinard Art Institute graduate and leading figure behind the California Style watercolor movement – created three exterior enamel and stainless steel relief murals. The murals remain today. The three murals depict the history and culture of early California with one showcasing the state of California, the second featuring Los Angeles County and the third showing three groups of people who populated early California. (Mark Keppel High School, 501 East Hellman Avenue, Alhambra)

DSC_0755Neon “Alhambra” Welcome Signs – At the western, eastern and southern entrances to the city of Alhambra, you’ll find “Alhambra” neon signs, which welcome visitors to our city. Currently only the southern sign on Valley Blvd. is working. Neon signs and their rich history date back to the early 1900s. The French chemist, inventor and engineer Georges Claude introduced the first neon lamp to the public in 1910; he introduced neon signs to the US in 1923. In addition to its welcome signs, Alhambra has two historic businesses that use neon signs. The Hat on Valley Blvd. and Bun N Burger on Main St. both feature vintage neon signs. Alhambra’s Arts and Cultural Events Committee is considering the restoration of Alhambra’s neon welcome signs. APG applauds this idea. (Alhambra’s neon signs – Huntington Blvd. at the border of El Sereno, Main Street at the border of San Gabriel, Valley Blvd. at the border of Los Angeles)

Joe.Candalot.1926Joe Candalot & Sons Building – Just east of Alhambra’ neon sign on Valley Blvd. at the terminus of the 710 Freeway, you’ll find a simple non-descript two-story brick building with the words “Joe Candalot & Sons – 1926” imprinted near the roof. In 1899, Sylvestre Dupuy – the original owner of Alhambra’s Pyrenees Castle – married Anna Candalot, a young Frenchwoman and accomplished chef. They raised four children – a daughter and three sons – in Alhambra. After the Dupuy’s moved into the Pyrenees Castle in 1927, the couple began developing lots on present-day Valley Blvd. Mr. Dupuy set up his sons in the tire business, naming it Y Tire Sales, which is still located on Valley Blvd. and is still owned by the Dupuy family. Whether this building in southwestern Alhambra was at one time the offices of Y Tire Sales has yet to be proven. And who was Joseph Candalot? Anna Candalot Dupuy’s father? Her brother? We’re still researching this branch of the Dupuy family. But the fact that the Candalot name features prominently on the building’s edifice links it to Alhambra’s Pyrenees Castle somehow. (Joe Candalot & Sons Building, 3078 Valley Blvd., Alhambra)

Olson.1930sAlhambra’s Millionaire’s Row – In the early 20th century, many cities had neighborhoods that came to be known as “Millionaire’s Row.” These were streets lined with mansions owned by wealthy and influential city leaders. Alhambra was no different. During the 1920s and 30s, Alhambra’s elite lived on North Almansor Street in the Orange Blossom Manor tract, which featured homes with revivalist architectural styles ranging from English Tudor to American Colonial, from Dutch Colonial to Spanish Colonial. The homes were owned by such Alhambra luminaries as Victor Clyde Forsythe, renowned southwest Plein Air painter; Frank Olson, a lumberman who owned Olson Lumber and whose stunning English Tudor Revival home remains today; and Elmer Bailey, an experienced citrus orchardist who established the Golden Pheasant brand. Homes on Alhambra’s Millionaire’s Row have been featured on home tours and in movies. (Alhambra’s Millionaire’s Row, North Almansor Street north of Main Street)

43.Main.St.FacadeFormer Home Furniture Company Building Façade – As you drive east on Main Street just past Garfield Avenue, look to your left and you’ll discover a building that looks decidedly different than its neighbors. Several years ago, the 1970’s façade of this building was removed and an early 20th century storefront was discovered underneath. This building was the original location of Alhambra’s Home Furniture Company, which was Alhambra’s preeminent furniture store in the early 20th century. Boasting more than 32,000 square feet of furniture display space, the Home Furniture Company saw several owners during its lifetime. Today the façade that remains features decorative pillars and ornamental urns adorned with garlands of fruit and ribbon. (Former Home Furniture Company Building, 43 East Main Street, Alhambra)

We hope you enjoyed reading about a few of Alhambra’s architectural Easter eggs and the stories behind these gems. There are many more to be found in Alhambra, which is why a citywide historic resources inventory is overdue and necessary. We simply don’t know where all of our city’s architectural Easter eggs are hidden. It’s time to find them all and discover Alhambra!

Note: If you do decide to visit these locations or look for additional architectural Easter eggs in Alhambra, we ask that you not disturb business owners, residents and students. Happy hunting!

Did we miss any of Alhambra’s architectural Easter eggs? If you’re aware of any, please tell us about it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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Alhambra.City.HallThe City of Alhambra Planning Commission will consider the final draft of the City of Alhambra General Plan at public meetings on Monday, May 6 and Monday, May 20, 2019. Both meetings will take place at Alhambra City Hall, City Council Chambers, 111 South First Street, Alhambra, CA  91801 and will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Alhambra Preservation Group representatives will be in attendance, and we encourage all Alhambrans to attend one or both of these meetings. Members of the public will be invited to make public statements about the General Plan prior to the Planning Commission’s consideration of the final draft document. If you have any final thoughts or opinions about Alhambra’s General Plan, these public meetings are your last opportunity to let your voice be heard.

The City of Alhambra released the final General Plan on January 10, 2019. APG reviewed the final General Plan along with the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and immediately noticed that three key implementation action items related to the development of a comprehensive historic preservation program that had been originally included in the General Plan’s draft EIR had been deleted from the final EIR.

APG representatives attended the first public hearing at the Planning Commission, and Alhambra Preservation Group addressed these deleted implementation action items. “The deleted implementation action items included (1) conducting a historic resources inventory, (2) establishing a historic resources commission and (3) taking measures to ensure that the City of Alhambra qualified as a certified local government. All of these action items are necessary to have a historic preservation program,” stated APG President Oscar Amaro. “We insist that these three implementation action items be reinstated into the final EIR and final listing of General Plan Implementation Action Items.”

APG also submitted a letter to Alhambra City Council Members and Planning Commission Members outlining the deletion of these key implementation action items and demanded that these three key items be restored to the final EIR as well as the final listing of General Plan Implementation Action Items. The letter APG submitted to the City of Alhambra may be viewed here.

Soon after the January Planning Commission meeting, the City’s General Plan process was put on hold when Councilwoman Katherine Lee requested that more residents be surveyed to gather additional input. As a result of this request, City Council voted unanimously to conduct an additional survey of 400 Alhambra residents.

The City of Alhambra began the updating of its General Plan – viewed as a long-range vision for the future of a community and sometimes referred to as a “blueprint for the future” – in the spring of 2015. The City of Alhambra’s General Plan was last updated in 1986.

For more information on the City of Alhambra’s General Plan visit the City’s web page.

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

 

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626.Golden.Streets.2Spring has sprung and there’s a lot going on in our city and the San Gabriel Valley over the next few weeks. Here are just a few of the events and activities that you may want to check out:

State of the City Address, April 22 – Join City Council for the State of the City address by Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler at the Alhambra City Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 22, 2019. This year Alhambra’s mayor will give the State of the City address at a City Council meeting, allowing city residents to hear the speech free of charge. In years past, the state of the city speech has been given at a $30/ticket lunch hosted by the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club. Kudos to Grassroots Alhambra for their role in pushing the City of Alhambra to have this address presented in a free public forum and to Mayor Andrade-Stadler for deciding to give the State of the City address at a City Council meeting, which allows all city residents to hear the status of issues facing Alhambra.

Neighborhood Clean-Up, April 27 – This year’s neighborhood clean-up will take place in southern Alhambra between West Ramona Road, West Glendon Way, South 2nd Street and South 9th Street, in the areas known as Ramona and Ramona Park. City of Alhambra staff, community service organizations and volunteers will assist with the massive one-day clean-up effort to improve the appearance of this neighborhood. The clean-up will take place on Saturday, April 27, between 8 a.m. and 12 noon.

The Neighborhood Clean-Up Command Post will be located on West Ramona Road between South 5th Street and South 6th Street. Volunteers are also needed to help with clean-up efforts! Contact the Alhambra Code Enforcement at 626-570-3230 or code@cityofalhambra.org to volunteer or if you have any additional questions. If you’d like more information on the event, please visit the City of Alhambra event web page.

626 Golden Streets, May 19 – 626 Golden Streets is an open streets (or ciclovia) event that will connect South Pasadena, Alhambra and San Gabriel. The route begins in the Mission District of South Pasadena, heads down to Alhambra Road and Main Street in Alhambra and ends at the historic San Gabriel Mission. Participants are encouraged to walk, skate, bike, run the route. Look for Alhambra Preservation Group along the route in Alhambra! More details to come on where APG can be found on the day of the event! For more information on the event, visit 626 Golden Streets.

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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St.Simon.&.Jude.Chapel.2.17.19As 2019 begins, Alhambra Preservation Group has several key items on its advocacy and action agenda:

City of Alhambra General Plan – The City of Alhambra released the final General Plan on January 10, 2019. APG reviewed the final General Plan along with the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and immediately noticed that three key implementation action items related to historic preservation measures that had been originally included in the General Plan’s draft EIR had been deleted from the final EIR. APG representatives attended the first public hearing at the Planning Commission and President and Founder Oscar Amaro addressed these deleted implementation action items to the Planning Commission. APG also submitted a letter to Alhambra City Council Members and Planning Commission Members outlining the deletion of these key implementation action items and demanding that these three key items be restored to the final EIR as well as the final listing of General Plan Implementation Action Items. For more information, the letter APG submitted to the City of Alhambra may be viewed here.

At a January city council meeting, Council member Katherine Lee stated that the number of Alhambrans surveyed for the General Plan was insufficient and proposed that more Alhambra residents be surveyed. City Council supported this proposal. Additional surveying efforts are taking place now with the Planning Commission set to consider the final General Plan on May 6 and May 20, 2019.

Reginald Davis Johnson’s St. Simon and Jude Chapel – Demolition of the former Kensington Senior Home structures surrounding the historic St. Simon and Jude Chapel designed began in early January. APG is monitoring the proposed Camellia Court construction site and wrote a letter to the City of Alhambra Development Services inquiring as to what protective measures were being taken to ensure that this historic chapel is saved. APG received correspondence back from Marc Castagnola as well as the construction supervisor assuring us that protective measures are in place. Above is a photo of the fencing surrounding the chapel. APG will continue to monitor the situation as demolition and construction progresses.

Meeting New City Council Members – Last November, Alhambra elected three new city council members – Adele Andrade-Stadler, Katherine Lee and Ross Maza. The APG Board of Directors is meeting with each of the newly elected city council members to educate them on APG, our organization’s mission and Alhambra’s need for a comprehensive historic preservation program. In light of the release of the final General Plan last month, we are also communicating to them that key implementation action items related to historic preservation measures were deleted from the final EIR and asking that they be restored to the final EIR and final listing of General Plan Implementation Action Items.

403 South Garfield Avenue – We continue to monitor the Queen Anne Victorian home at 403 South Garfield Avenue. In January, APG representatives met with the owner of the property to discuss future possibilities for the property. We were encouraged to learn that the property owner recognizes the historic nature of the home and is open to a solution that preserves it. We will continue to keep in contact with the owner and continue working towards a solution that saves this local landmark.

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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Magnifying.glass.Alhambra.cropped

Thirty-four years ago in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was president, Kenny Loggins was footloose and Dan Akroyd was busting ghosts, the City of Alhambra and the Alhambra Historical Society, conducted the Alhambra Historic and Cultural Resources Survey of our city’s major architectural landmarks using state grant funds.

The survey inventoried two Alhambra neighborhoods (the northwest Wuest Tract and the southern Ramona Park Tract) and 34 at-large sites focused on pre-World War II structures. The nine-month effort documented 637 buildings and community design features. Within those 637 identified sites, 42 buildings and clusters were singled out as worthy of local landmark designation and 36 buildings were evaluated as potentially eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The 1984 survey also listed buildings and neighborhoods identified for inclusion in future surveys.

Except future surveys never happened. The City of Alhambra placed the survey in a filing cabinet and ignored it. City leaders disregarded the historic preservation recommendations in the 1984 survey, which included the need for future surveys and a heritage-conservation ordinance. As a result, many of the historically significant structures listed in the 1984 survey have been razed or substantially altered, and entire neighborhoods have never been inventoried for their historical, architectural or cultural value. Additionally, current historical resources risk being destroyed – the Queen Anne Victorian at 403 South Garfield and Crawford’s Corner at New Avenue and Valley Blvd. top that list!

The closest Alhambra has come to a new historic resources inventory is the windshield survey conducted by Alhambra Preservation Group in 2016. This survey documented hundreds of homes, businesses, churches and schools throughout Alhambra. APG discovered structures representing more than 20 architectural genres and sub-genres built before the mid-1960s. APG’s resulting interactive Google map validates the conclusion of the 1984 survey, which stated, “…the survey demonstrated, to the city government and to the public, that Alhambra does indeed have an architectural heritage.”

Alhambra still has an architectural heritage, and it’s time to document, celebrate and preserve it!

Alhambra desperately needs to conduct a citywide inventory of its historical, architectural and cultural resources. Digitizing and updating the 1984 survey is a tangible first step we can take towards that goal. Can you help? Here are the types of volunteer help we need to digitize and update the 1984 survey:

  • Are you a fast typist? We need help inputting individual survey sheets from the more than 600 structures surveyed. We have hard copies of them all but they need to be digitized.
  • Do you like to walk? We need to canvas the two neighborhood tracts surveyed in 1984 and update survey sheets to reflect changes in those neighborhoods.
  • Are you a photographer? We need current photographs of the homes and structures listed in the 1984 survey.

These are the beginning steps of a new endeavor APG is calling Putting Alhambra on the Map, an intensive, multi-year effort to survey all of Alhambra’s historical, architectural and cultural resources.

If you’re interested in helping us with the efforts related to digitizing Alhambra’s 1984 survey or if you’d like to volunteer for APG’s future citywide historical resources inventory project, please e-mail us at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

Because we’re going to need everyone’s help to put Alhambra on the map!

Photo courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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DSC_373

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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