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Posts Tagged ‘historic preservation’

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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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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By Melissa Michelson, Alhambra Preservation Group Board of Directors

In early August, Alhambra Preservation Group‘s newly formed Advocacy and Action Committee held its first meeting with APG members Janet Ervin, Lily Nitta and Gigi Xu attending. They discussed and developed a mission statement and agreed to hold regular meetings once a month or on an as-needed basis. The group also attended the Design Review Board meeting and went on a site visit. The group decided that the mission of the Advocacy and Action Committee should be ‘By regularly reviewing staff reports, attending City Council and committee meetings (like Design Review Board and Planning Commission), regularly communicating with the APG Board and calling APG members to action, we the Advocacy and Action Committee aim to promote the mission of APG by encouraging community participation in the efforts to preserve and protect the historical, architectural and cultural integrity of the community. The mission reflects the mission of APG: Through education, advocacy and awareness-building programs, Alhambra Preservation Group seeks to ensure 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.

Design Review Board Meeting

After initially meeting at the Diner on Main, members of the Advocacy and Action Committee attended the Design Review Board (DRB) on August 9, where 1237 Main Street, a mid-century medical building on the corner of Vega and Main Street, was on the agenda. Committee members then went to visit the property.

While at the DRB, the Advocacy and Action Committee’s message was clear: Yes, the building is in a state of disrepair; however, this mid-century medical office building is a gem that deserves to be preserved. Its unique interior which includes all-wood cabinetry, cork floors, rounded corners and exposed brick are classic characteristics of mid-century architecture. Committee members expressed to the Design Review Board that it is their hope that the existing medical building is creatively and thoughtfully incorporated and maintained as part of the developer’s plans, along with the advice and expertise of the city’s Design Review Board.

What the architect has in store:

  • Demolish 1940s two-story 1453 sq. ft. wood house and 1951 15,188 sq. ft. brick single-story medical building
  • Build 14,125 sq ft, single- story contemporary style building in north east corner of lot, with parking lot in front with 71 stalls and 4-8 bike parking slots.
  • Two driveways from Main Street (compared to current building which is along the sidewalk)
  • Demolish the double-story wood house on the lot next door
  • Re-use/recycle the brick for landscaping, for planters, etc.
  • Bring in vintage wood to the interior
  • A lobby-feature wall to reflect the site and surrounding area, and include an informational plaque

Image 33The architect mentioned structural and seismic concerns, having to put a new roof on the current building and that a community meeting from neighbors was held and all feedback was positive, but was neither asked nor offered details on those during the meeting. At the time of this writing, APG is waiting to hear from the architects (Market Street Development) for more details about the community meeting.

The DRB was interested in using existing brick, perhaps because surrounding single-story buildings also showcase brick; however, according to the architect’s plans available for public viewing at City Hall, the majority of the proposed building is painted stucco, with one exterior feature wall of wood. One DRB member preferred that the parking be located behind the building as it is currently but was told that Public Works wants to avoid that to minimize traffic on the residential streets. It is unclear to the Advocacy and Action Committee after looking at the plans, where the recycled brick will be used because the majority of the property will be a parking lot.

The DRB gave approval and recommended for the majority of the brick to be used for a new façade. One DRB board member suggested the architects look into finding a way to move the house or salvage it.

Image 31The Site Visit

On the lot is the medical building and a 2-story house. On Vega Street across from the property, there is currently an empty commercial lot so there is potential for a driveway there rather than solely on Main Street. Neither building has visible structural damage. In fact, the older home is in better shape than the brick medical building.

What’s next?

The next Planning Commission Meeting is Monday, August 29, 2016.

The next meeting for the Design Review Board is Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

If you would like to join APG’s Advocacy and Action Committee, please contact us at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

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IMG_1677Summer has been a sizzling hot season for Alhambra Preservation Group!

APG kicked off the summer with its event entitled Alhambra’s Amazing Architecture at the Civic Center Library on June 29. More than 100 residents attended the lecture that showcased the diversity of Alhambra’s architecture. “Many residents didn’t realize that Alhambra is one of the most architecturally diverse cities in Southern California,” stated Joyce Amaro, APG President. “From Victorian to Mid-Century Modern and everything in between, Alhambra boasts a rich architectural heritage – one that needs to be celebrated, preserved and protected,” Amaro continued. The event concluded with the introduction of an online Alhambra map created by APG documenting Alhambra’s historic homes. Take a look at the Google map and see if there are any historic homes in your neighborhood that should be added. Send us the address at info@alhambrapreservation.org, and we’ll see that the home is placed on the map.

In July, APG held a summer fundraiser dinner raising $262.50. This first-time event was held at Alhambra’s very own Diner on Main, a restaurant designed in the Googie-architectural style, which was popular in the mid-20th century. At one point, the restaurant was filled to capacity with APG members, enjoying good food and company for a great cause. We hope to do more of these at local Alhambra restaurants such as Twoheys, Blaze Pizza, Yogurtland, Souplantation and Shakey’s Pizza. It’s a great opportunity for some family fun and it benefits us all!

In August Alhambra Preservation Group began moving into its new office at The Alhambra thanks to a generous donation by The Ratkovich Company. APG has always been, and will continue to be, a grassroots organization, but the addition of a physical office enhances the work APG can do in Alhambra. August was also the month that APG kicked off its newly formed Advocacy and Action Committee. Their role will be to monitor and attend City meetings such as the Design Review Board, Planning Commission and City Council for issues needing APG’s attention.

Fall promises to be a busy season for APG as well. Alhambra Preservation Group is partnering with the League of Women Voters – Pasadena Area to host a Meet the Candidates Forum at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5 at Almansor Court’s Lakeview Room, 700 South Almansor Street. This free event is open to the public and all Alhambrans are encouraged to attend. It’s an opportunity for residents to learn more about the candidates running for two open Alhambra City Council seats in November.

We are following up the candidates’ forum with a lecture in November by APG’s very own member, Denise Lawrence, who is a professor at the School of Environmental Design, Cal Poly Pomona. Denise will present a talk on her recently published book Protecting Suburban America: Gentrification, Advocacy and the Historic Imaginary. We’ll close out the year with our annual membership campaign and an open house at our new offices at The Alhambra. Stay tuned for more details on all of these upcoming events!

 

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Diner.On.MainCome join Alhambra Preservation Group for a fundraiser at Alhambra’s Diner on Main (201 West Main Street) Tuesday, July 26 from 4 – 9 p.m.

“During that time, Diner on Main will donate 25% of your total meal receipt to APG,” said Joyce Amaro, APG President. “It’s a fun opportunity to enjoy a good meal, great company and unique architecture.”

Diner on Main is Alhambra’s very own example of Googie architecture, a modern style popular in the late 40s through the early 60s, particularly for gas stations, diners and bowling alleys. The style was marked by upswept  roofs, neon, geometric shapes and curved lines that included boomerangs, flying saucers, atoms and parabolas. It represented America’s fascination with Space Age themes.

Googie originated right here in SoCal. Iconic architect John Lautner coined the term when he designed a coffee shop in West Hollywood named after one of the owners, Lillian “Googie” Burton.

Be sure to make your calendar for this new APG event, where all you have to do to raise money is eat (and pay your tab)!

Questions? Send us an e-mail at info@alhambrapreservation.org.

 

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mythbusters2How much do you really know about historic preservation? In this two-part series, we explore the myths surrounding preservation. In this article, we bust preservation myths at large. In the second article, we’ll dispel preservation myths specific to the city of Alhambra.

Myth #1 – Historic designation will reduce my property values.

Fact – Study after study across the nation has conclusively demonstrated that historic designation and the creation of historic districts actually increase property values. Why? Historic designation gives a neighborhood or an individual historic site a uniqueness that many buyers seek. Two economically valuable assurances: that the very qualities that attracted them to their neighborhood will actually endure over time, and that they can safely reinvest in sensitive home improvements without fear that their neighbor will undermine this investment with a new monster home” or inappropriate new development.

Myth #2 – Preservation is only for the rich and elite.

Fact – Today’s preservation movement is increasingly diverse. In LA, the two newest Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs) are in Pico-Union and Lincoln Heights, home to economically and ethnically varied populations.

Preservation today also focuses on more modest sites of social and cultural significance. Just look at the small Ralph J.Bunche House in South Los Angeles, boyhood home of the pioneering African-American diplomat. Or, consider a current preservation effort to save the modest Vladeck Center, a Boyle Heights building that was the center of the Jewish life in the 1930s.Such sites underscore that preservation can be about the “power of place” at sites of rich cultural meaning.

Myth #3 – Historic preservation is bad for business.

Fact – Historic preservation is at the very heart of our nation’s most vibrant economic development and business attraction programs. In Southern California, think Old Pasadena or San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Here’s a national example: The National Main Street Center, a program that uses historic preservation to revitalize town centers and neighborhood commercial districts, has actually tracked economic results in 1,700 Main Street communities nationally. These preservation-based programs have created over 231,000 new jobs and resulted in over $17 billion in reinvestment to date, with every dollar spent on a Main Street program yielding $40 in economic reinvestment.

Myth #4 – Old buildings are less safe.

Fact – Although historic structures do sometimes require structural retrofits or the addition of fire sprinklers to enhance safety, historic buildings typically perform better than new construction in earthquakes and other natural disasters. What determines the safety of buildings is the quality of construction, not age, and in many ways, “they just don’t build’em like they used to.”

Los Angeles’ signature historic structures have survived every major temblor of the past eight decades. In the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the most catastrophic damage occurred not to historic buildings but to newer construction such as parking garages and newer apartments with “tuck-under” parking.

Myth #5 – Preservationists are always fighting new development and only care about the past.

Fact – Historic preservationists do care deeply about the past – not to wallow in a bygone era, but to anchor ourselves as we move confidently into the future. Historic preservation is not about stopping change or blocking creative new architecture and development. Preservation allows us to retain the best of our shared heritage to preserve sites of unique quality and beauty, revitalize neighborhoods, spur economic development, and quite simply, create better communities.

Excerpted from “The Top 10 Myths About Historic Preservation” by Ken Bernstein, manager of the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources.

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