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Posts Tagged ‘historic preservation’

Alhambra.Rd.Iona.Workspacesby Barbara Beckley

Alhambra Preservation Group congratulates Mike McCollum on the beautiful restoration of one of Alhambra’s many historic structures.

Mike McCollum knows a great building – and its potential — when he sees it. “People value and appreciate restored buildings that have character – they have a human quality,” he explains.

As the successful attorney-owner of McCollum Counsel, which works with international and Chinese multi-national companies, Mike was looking for an office in Alhambra to be closer to his clients.

Alhambra.Road.Iona.Workspaces.McCollum“This building caught my eye,” he said, of the sprawling, single-story brick structure that has graced West Alhambra Road between Curtis and Electric Avenues since 1918. He knew right away its picturesque brickwork and multiple spaces with large windows looking out on a tree-lined residential street had “office potential.” Its location, near Huntington Drive and easy access to Los Angeles and other San Gabriel Valley communities was an added plus.

Lucky for the building – and Alhambra – Mike loves to restore vintage structures. As a high school student in Los Feliz, his first summer job was cataloging historic courthouses for a preservation group. He was hooked. Since then he’s made a hobby of refurbishing vintage buildings with his father and brother, restoring aging gems first in Angelino Heights and then in Silverlake, Hollywood, Echo Park and now Alhambra.

Why? “For a love of old things and history. And the satisfaction of being able to bring something back to life that has stood the test of time and restore it to again be beautiful and useful.”

So in 2015 Mike bought the building at 1500 West Alhambra Road and began researching its history. “I love this building’s history,” he says. With so many individual spaces, it housed flourishing neighborhood businesses for decades. Among the longest running were the HM Pease & Co. Grocery, opened in 1918, along with a drug store, fruit specialist, butcher shop, barber shop and tailor. Small businesses came and went, including in 1932 a carpet store; 1937 a beauty shop; 1941 a lawn mower store; 1946 an upholsterer; 1949 a drapery boutique; 1952 a variety store; 1954 a doll shop; 1956 a plastic products manufacturer and in 1964 a café, and Golden West Books publishing, which occupied the building up until the early 2000s.

Mike was also pleased to learn that during the Great Depression, the grocery store owner, Alhambra resident Howard M. Pease, organized the donation of more than 1.5 million loaves of bread and other supplies to local residents in need.

“Hidden treasures” were also discovered during the renovation process – a bunch of wires going into a back room looked like they had been put in after the Great Depression.  “I’m guessing it was probably a bookie joint,” he surmises.

Mike began the renovations in 2016. Using his own good taste and love of vintage architecture, he added skylights to open up sunny spaces, and exposed the original brickwork, original beams, and concrete to give the building a stylish, vintage/contemporary feel.

Alhambra.Rd.Iona.Workspaces.2What’s the highlight of his reborn space? “All the beautifully preserved, and now exposed brick, and solid redwood beams. These beams shouldn’t be destroyed. We should be exposing and celebrating this rich beautiful wood. I love to see and celebrate the old brick, the wood and the concrete, and the new steel – the beauty of form and function.”

Work was completed this past summer. Mike threw a community party, in partnership with Brethren Shoes a new e-commerce company founded by an old friend, on September 9, 2018 celebrating his beautiful new Alhambra-based IONA Work Spaces. Mike chose to highlight Brethren as a nod to the original owner’s community service. “Brethren sells stylish shoes at reasonable prices — and for each pair they sell, they donate another pair to the homeless. Howard Pease would be pleased!” Mike adds.

Alhambra.Rd.Iona.Workspaces.3“Everyone is always impressed with the space,” he says. “Warm. Inviting. Calm,” is how his clients, visitors and prospective tenants describe this newest of Alhambra’s retro gems. “People like that they can have a beautiful office and natural light,” he says.

IONA Work Spaces features a collection of unique offices, common areas and meeting spaces, with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows and large spaces opening onto an historic street. “We’re getting a lot of interest from a mix of professionals including design and architect, consulting and real estate firms and tech oriented business who find IONA an ideal space to run their businesses and meet with clients. There are also a lot of neighbors within walking distance with home-based businesses who want a desk here as their ‘home office,’” Mike says.

A large “living room” space is perfect for after-hours events, like the informal chamber music performance put on by one of IONA Work Spaces new members. Mike hopes this space can be used for ongoing similar gatherings for its members.

More than a beautiful office building, Mike is looking to IONA Work Spaces to be a center of attraction to Alhambra. He hopes to use it to strengthen and promote Alhambra’s position as a center of all the economic activity coming from Pasadena, Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. In particular, “I would love for IONA to be a hub of China-related businesses,” he declared.

IONA Work Spaces is currently accepting tenants. To learn more, visit IONA Work Spaces or email info@iona.work.

Photos courtesy of Alhambra Preservation Group.

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107.Champion.Place

A century ago, Alhambra (and America) was a vastly different place. The United States had just entered World War I and the women’s suffrage movement was gaining ground. In 1917, it cost just two cents to mail a letter and a mere seven cents to see a movie. A Sears kit home cost between $191 and $2,632! Because of the uncertainty caused by the war, America experienced a pause in home construction in 1917 and this housing lull affected Alhambra as well. However, Alhambra does have at least one 1917 home that is still standing here in our city.

This home was constructed in the Arts and Crafts style with a slight nod to the Colonial Revival. Located on Champion Place within the original Alhambra Tract, this home was constructed by the property’s original owners, the Champion family, and has ties to the colony of prominent Western artists – which came be known as Artist’s Alley – who lived and worked in this small neighborhood.

When first built in 1917, this home was assessed at $1,730. Allan and Estella Bard purchased the home from the Champion family in 1919 and were its first documented residents. The Bards came to California from the Midwest, having raised three children in Cleveland and Chicago. Allen Bard got his start in the jewelry business at age 21 in 1875 and continued in the sale of precious stones after moving to Alhambra. Between 1919 and present day, 10 different families have called this house “home.” Those residents ranged from an up and coming West Coast artist to a Borax accountant, from a microbiologist to a Los Angeles Community College professor.

This year, this grand home joins many other Alhambra homes that have reached the 100-year mark. Join us in celebrating this home’s truly sensational centennial!

Photo courtesy of Sherrie Watson.

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Coffee.Council.Member.June.29.2017

The announcement that the City of Alhambra will pursue the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance tops Alhambra Preservation Group’s summer advocacy and action report:

Alhambra To Pursue Historic Preservation Ordinance

In the same neighborhood where Alhambra Preservation Group held its first home tour in 2004, Alhambra City Council Member Jeff Maloney made the announcement that Alhambra Preservation Group members have been waiting to hear for more than a decade. The City of Alhambra will pursue the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance, which will create a citywide survey of cultural resources, a cultural resources commission and a register of Alhambra landmarks and historic districts.

“We are thrilled that the Alhambra City Council is finally showing leadership in the area of historic preservation,” stated Joyce Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group President. “More than 50% of residents surveyed during the city’s 2015 General Plan Update input process stated that the preservation of historic homes and neighborhoods needed to be a priority. We’re pleased that they are listening to their constituents.”

So, congratulations! Alhambra is on the road to adopting legislation that will preserve and protect our neighborhoods! Thank you for your continued commitment to Alhambra, your dedication to Alhambra Preservation Group and its mission, and your unwavering belief that Alhambra’s cultural resources are worth saving.

Now the exciting work begins!

June 29 Coffee With A Council Member Summer Event

The announcement regarding the pursuing of a historic preservation ordinance came at the Alhambra Preservation Group’s June 29 Coffee with a Council Member summer event. Alhambra Mayor David Mejia and Council Member Jeff Maloney were in attendance and fielded questions from Alhambra residents on a variety of topics ranging from the need for street repair throughout Alhambra to concerns regarding mature trees due to be cut down at the Camellia Court development and the need for a tree ordinance, from future plans for creating a more environmentally sustainable city to the idea of creating a citizens oversight committee for procurement, budget and contracting issues.

General Plan Update Workshop

APG members were in attendance at the General Plan Update community workshop on June 14. While APG was disappointed that the workshop did not include the release of the updated General Plan, we were encouraged to hear that there are preservation goals included in Alhambra’s updated General Plan. We look forward to reviewing the updated General Plan when it is released. If you’re interested in being notified when the updated General Plan is distributed to the public, please e-mail the City of Alhambra at generalplan@cityofalhambra.org.

Alhambra Source’s Community Voices Workshop

Members of the APG board of directors attended the Alhambra Source’s Community Voices workshop on June 24 at Ramona Convent. Attending seminars on opinion writing, news writing and photography, they hope to put their newly learned skills into practice as future contributors of the Alhambra Source.

Meetings with City of Alhambra, Development Services Department

Alhambra Preservation Group President Joyce Amaro has met twice with Alhambra’s new Director of Development Services Marc Castognola in June and July to discuss the future of a historic preservation ordinance, the creation of a cultural resources commission and the implementation of a citywide inventory of cultural resources. The City is moving forward with the drafting of a preservation ordinance so stay tuned for more details regarding this initiative. We are hoping to have more news on this in the fall.

Endangered Cultural Resource

A 1926 Spanish Colonial Revival Chapel on South Marengo known as the Saints Simon and Jude Episcopal Chapel currently tops APG’s most endangered list. APG wrote a letter to Alhambra City Council members expressing concern about the Saints Simon and Jude Chapel located at 1428 South Marengo Avenue, and APG is planning on requesting that City Council use its influence to facilitate a meeting between Alhambra officials, Alhambra Preservation Group and the developer to explore the adaptive reuse of the chapel on the property. The 92-year old Saints Simon and Jude Chapel is culturally significant. Reginald Davis Johnson was a true architectural visionary, whose work shaped Santa Barbara’s visual identity and whose buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In Santa Barbara, Mr. Johnson designed the Santa Barbara Post Office and the Santa Barbara Biltmore hotel. Locally, he was responsible for the design of All Saints Church and Hale Observatory in Pasadena, the Saint Saviours Chapel in Studio City, and the Flintridge Riding Club. Because of its link to this celebrated architect, Alhambra’s Chapel of Saints Simon and Jude should be preserved and cherished instead of destroyed and forgotten.

 

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DSC_0114Programming and events that combine education and fun are at the heart of the Alhambra Preservation Group. Its summer ice cream socials often felt like homecomings for members and its Heritage Awards program took members on mini virtual tours of award-winning homes throughout Alhambra.

In 2013 APG embarked on a new idea – a Magical History Bus Tour that transported participants back to 1920s Alhambra to tour architecturally significant homes and meet the men and women who shaped the city we know today.

A few years later in 2015, the City of Alhambra began the process of updating its General Plan and APG actively participated in this initiative. APG hosted three ice cream socials in members’ homes and provided a summary of the General Plan Update at these events, encouraging members to participate in a survey that the City of Alhambra was conducting to receive feedback on future priorities for our city. APG members also participated in the community workshops hosted by the City of Alhambra. This effort by APG resulted in more than 50% of survey participants stating that the preservation of homes and neighborhoods should be a future priority for Alhambra.

In 2016, APG created a Google map which introduced residents to Alhambra’s amazing architectural diversity. From Victorian to Mid-Century Modern, this map provides a visual representation of the more than 25 architectural styles and sub-styles that can be found in Alhambra and begins the conversation that Alhambra is arguably one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Los Angeles County.

Now Alhambra is on the cusp of developing and adopting a historic preservation ordinance and creating an inventory of cultural resources, two of APG’s main goals when it was founded by Oscar Amaro and Katherine Hildreth. We are excited for the next 10 years in Alhambra as we continue working to preserve Alhambra’s neighborhoods, one historic home at a time.

Note: As Alhambra Preservation Group celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, we are taking our readers on a two-part virtual trip back in time to meet the tight-knit group of members who make up the APG community and continue to move our city towards the day when Alhambra’s historically and architecturally homes, schools, businesses and churches are recognized, celebrated, preserved and protected.

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F.Q.Story.houseEarlier this year, Jane Fernandez, a resident of Alhambra and student from Cal Poly Pomona, contacted Alhambra Preservation Group for assistance with a class project. She and a group of classmates needed to find a historic home for a Cultural Resource Management class. APG helped them find the Francis Q. Story home, located on North Story Place. After completing their project, we chatted with Jane and her classmate, Jennifer Hernandez, about their experience and what this project taught them about Alhambra and preservation.

APG: What was the project and purpose of the project?

Jane and Jennifer: The class was Cultural Resource Management, an introductory course to laws and the practice of CRM. The purpose of this project was to give us a hands-on approach of what it is like to do work within cultural resource management. The project was meant to encourage us as students to take an active role and apply our learning to the real world versus keeping the work within a classroom setting.

APG: Did you encounter any challenges completing this project?

Jane and Jennifer: We had planned doing our project on the Victorian house on Garfield after having read about it in the Alhambra Source. After spending several weeks gathering information, we had no luck with contacting the owner and getting permission to enter the house. We then decided to visit the Historical Society and talked to APG in hopes of finding another home in the area.

Having found the Story home, the owners were very helpful in giving us information so much that we had three criteria to work with. A challenge we encountered from not having full records of the home was the fact that we did not know when the architectural change from a Victorian home to a more Federalist-styled home took place. Another challenge we encountered was the word of mouth story about a Japanese family being housed in the attic after World War 2. We weren’t able to confirm that story.

APG: What did you learn doing this project? Did anything surprise you about this house/project?

Jane: I learned that preservation can be very rewarding in so many ways. It saves history, a place’s purpose and just the overall ambience of a city/community. I was surprised at how much work needs to go into nominating a place to be recognized as historically or culturally significant. I was also surprised at how many places we drive by on a daily basis that have grand stories behind them. I learned that in Alhambra, there are many.

APG: Do you have future plans involving historic preservation?

Jane: I, myself do. At this point the next preservation project I do might be for work since I am graduating, unless other projects come along. For the rest of the group I know that they have previously done some of this work before and might continue to do so. Doing this project on ‘The Story House’ was such a great experience as a resident of Alhambra because I didn’t just appreciate the home for having historical significance. It also brought to life the people and culture from our past.

APG: Any last thoughts?

Jane and Jennifer: Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed working on this project within the Alhambra community. It gave us a new perspective on historical preservation and the beauty and history that an old building can hold in the community.

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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.

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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.

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