“With our successful fundraising activities and ever-growing membership, I’m proud to say that TGHS continues to serve as a passionate and persuasive voice for historic preservation in Glendale.”
– GREG GRAMMER, PRESIDENT
This has been a rewarding year for The Glendale Historical Society and our efforts to celebrate and preserve Glendale’s architectural heritage.
Doctors House Museum: The Doctors House Museum continues to attract new visitors each year through such popular events as the Candlelight Tours, Victorian Easter Egg Hunt and the biennial Beneath the Veil, as well as a number of school tours and special exhibits. During the last year, this Victorian gem welcomed about 3,100 visitors.
Last year, we applied for and received a generous grant from the Community Foundation of the Verdugos in the amount of $12,300 to replace the wallpaper in the House’s dining room and parlor and repair damaged wallpaper in the stairway. The grant will also allow us to purchase new window shades to better protect the House’s collection and furnishings.
Year of the Craftsman: In an effort to draw attention to Glendale’s threatened Craftsman architecture, TGHS declared 2017 as The Year of the Craftsman. We held walking tours in neighborhoods chockfull of wonderful Craftsman bungalows, including Casa Verdugo and the Diamond District.
Home Tour: Our 2017 Home Tour, California Craftsman: Glendale’s Vanishing Heritage Home Tour, featured five charming Arts & Crafts style homes built between 1902 and 1915 and attracted approximately 500 tour-goers. Special thanks to the generous owners who opened their beautiful homes and to Sponsors G&C Properties, Community Foundation of the Verdugos and The Walt Disney Company for their support.
Gala & Benefit: Our other large fundraiser, last month’s Gala & Benefit, An Elegant Evening at the Davis Estate, was an enormous success raising about $16,500 for our endowment and preservation funds. Many thanks to Sponsors G&C Properties and Disney, and the Gala and silent auction committees.
Financial Health: We finished the 2017-18 fiscal year with revenues of $143,119 and expenses of $87,930, which amounts to a net income of $55,189 or 38% of gross income.
TGHS has approximately $102,000 cash on hand in our checking account; $126,000 on “reserve” in CDs; and nearly $80,000 in our endowment fund. And approximately $86,000 in legacy gifts.
This puts us in a strong financial position should TGHS ever need to mount a legal challenge when a historic property is threatened, and puts us closer to achieving our objective of hiring a staff person to help manage our preservation efforts.
Membership: In April, we held our month-long Membership Drive culminating with the annual Taste of Spain soiree, this time at a lovely 1928 Mediterranean Revival home in the Royal Boulevard Historic District. Many thanks to the homeowners, volunteers and attendees. Together, we set a new record with 40 new and upgraded members. I’m pleased to report that TGHS now has a total of 735 members – a new high – getting us closer to our goal of 1000 members. With your continued support, I know we can reach that goal. So, please, tell your friends and neighbors about us and encourage them to join!
Preservation Advocacy: With our successful fundraising activities and ever-growing membership, I’m proud to say that TGHS continues to serve as a passionate and persuasive voice for historic preservation in Glendale.
Earlier this year, we held a historic district workshop at the Brand Library and Art Center to promote the benefits of neighborhood preservation and offer tips on how to do the historic research and generate community support.
The proposed Casa Verdugo Historic District, consisting of 112 homes, and the South Cumberland Heights Historic District, which includes 209 homes, continue to advance through the approval process. In August, the Historic Preservation Commission found each of the two proposed districts to be preliminarily eligible for designation. In October, the applicants submitted petitions with signatures from more than 25% of the homeowners in each district requesting a formal historic resources survey, which we expect will get underway later this year.
I am thrilled to announce that a historic district application was recently submitted for The Highlands of Bellehurst Park neighborhood. This proposed historic district consists of 213 homes and is bounded by Stocker Street to the south, Mountain Street to the north, and Carmen Street to the east. The west boundary ends just west of Jackson Street.
For all three proposed historic districts, TGHS was pleased to provide financial assistance to cover nearly half of the $2,300 application fee.
When these three proposed historic districts are approved, it will bring the total number of historic districts in Glendale to ten.
We know there are many other potential historic districts in all areas of Glendale, some of them identified in the South Glendale Historic Resources Survey, and TGHS is ready to assist in any way we can. Historic districts are the best way to preserve the architectural integrity – as well as the property values – of our neighborhoods, so let’s keep the momentum going!
In May, we celebrated Preservation Month with a Restoration Expo at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, which was attended by more than 250 residents interested in maintaining the historic charm and character of their vintage homes. This free community event featured dozens of exhibitors and guest speakers offering access to valuable resources on such topics as energy efficiency in older homes; original window restoration and repair; architecturally compatible additions and accessory dwelling units; and period and style appropriate paint colors.
Speaking of the Civic Auditorium, earlier this year TGHS successfully nominated the distinctive 1938 Spanish Colonial Revival and Moorish-influenced building to the California Register of Historical Resources. We were delighted that our application for this important building, which was part of a Depression-era WPA project, was unanimously approved by the State Historical Resources Commission. This will help ensure that the building is preserved for future generations.
At the local level, seven properties were added to the Glendale Register of Historic Resources within the last year including:
- Casa Verdugo, the 1907 Mission Revival home on North Louise Street designed by architect Charles Shattuck that served as the famous Spanish restaurant operated by Piedad Yorba Sowl. TGHS prepared and submitted the application on behalf of the homeowner, a first for our organization - but certainly not our last.
- Other properties added to the Register include: Beggs House, a 1915 Airplane Bungalow/Craftsman located in the proposed Casa Verdugo Historic District that was included in our 2017 Craftsman Home Tour;
- Freeman House, an eclectic variation of the Monterey Revival-style built in 1937 located in the Royal Canyon neighborhood; and
- Whitney House, a 1939 French Eclectic house that was once the residence of Lorin Whitney, an acclaimed organist who operated a recording studio in Glendale;
- Miradero Gateway at Brand Park, which dates to an addition made to Leslie and Mary Brand’s main house in 1913 was also added along with The Brand Family Cemetery, which was created in 1925 at the time of Brand’s death. For those who don’t know, the Brand Family Cemetery is located on an acre of land just up the hill from here and features Brand’s impressive pyramid-shaped grave marker. Both the Brand Cemetery and the Miradero Gateway applications were prepared and submitted by Arlene Vidor, Past TGHS President and former Historic Preservation Commissioner, and recent recipient of our Lifetime Achievement Award;
- Kiefer & Eyerick Mortuary, located at 314 E. Harvard Street, which was built in 1928 and designed by prominent Glendale architect Alfred F. Priest received landmark status. This stunning example of a Tudor Revival commercial building operated as a mortuary until 2002 when the building was acquired by the Assistance of League of Glendale for use as their headquarters. TGHS was delighted to help the Assistance League prepare the application and support the landmark designation.
I’m also pleased to report that TGHS assisted with the nomination of Schaffer House, the 1949 Mid-century Modern masterpiece designed by renowned architect John Lautner and featured in the 2009 Tom Ford-directed film, A Single Man. We expect the application will come before the Historic Preservation Commission and the City Council later this year.
At 510-512 West Doran, TGHS was successful at preventing the rear third of a 1910 Transitional Craftsman that is eligible for the Glendale Register from being demolished to make way for three new residential dwelling units. Initially the City found the project exempt from environmental review, but TGHS challenged the CEQA exemption, arguing that a thorough review was required to analyze the project impacts. We were ultimately successful at convincing City staff, and a Mitigated Negative Declaration was prepared. Always seeking a “win-win” solution, TGHS did not oppose the proposed relocation of the historic Craftsman on the property to make way for additional housing units, although we felt that the proposed new buildings overwhelmed the historic house. We decided to appeal the Design Review Board’s decision to approve the project because we were concerned that the applicant did not have plans in place for moving or rehabilitating the historic house. In the end, City Council denied our appeal when the applicant indicated that there was a moving plan for the house even though it was never shared with us. While not a perfect outcome, through TGHS’s efforts this 1910 Transitional Craftsman will be preserved intact.
Then there was the heartbreaking loss of a 1908 Craftsman, the former residence of Levi Chubbuck, an important early advocate for Native American rights, which was demolished without a permit; TGHS reported the illegal demolition of 1420 Valley View Road to the City as soon as it was brought to our attention. As you may recall the City Council found this rare and relatively intact 110-year-old Craftsman was a potential historic resource after the owners appealed a decision by City staff to deny a demolition permit. TGHS joined City staff in arguing that the property was a likely historic resource and, therefore, an Environmental Impact Report, which would explore project alternatives, was required. City Council agreed and denied the appeal. But in a flagrant disregard of the City’s decision and the rule of law, the property owners bulldozed the house anyway.
Shortly after the home was demolished, TGHS attended a City Council meeting to argue that the property owners should receive the maximum penalty allowed under the Municipal Code for their egregious actions. A few days later, the City Attorney’s office filed a five-count misdemeanor complaint against the property owners.
TGHS has called for stricter penalties for such unpermitted demolition in order to provide a greater deterrence, and we are pleased that the City is working to amend the Municipal Code to strengthen the remedies for illegal demolition of a historic resource. We will be monitoring this issue very closely and providing comments on the proposed ordinance when it is presented to City Council.
Without a doubt, the issue that took up most of our time last year was the South Glendale Historic Resources Survey. Last September, the City of Glendale released the preliminary draft of the Survey as part of the South Glendale Community Plan, covering nearly 9,000 parcels. For decades, TGHS has been advocating for such a Survey to identify, assess and document Glendale’s historic resources. Reviewing and providing input on this Survey was probably the most important task TGHS has undertaken in years, and it was a responsibility that we took very seriously. We were given a few months to review and comment on the Survey before it was released to the public. A handful of TGHS volunteers covered virtually every square foot of South Glendale, mostly on foot, identifying potential historic resources we thought might have been overlooked. TGHS played an instrumental role in making sure that such properties were considered for inclusion in the Survey. While there is no such thing as a perfect historic resources survey, in the end the South Glendale Survey identified six eligible historic districts and about 400 historic resources, and will serve as a critical tool in saving historic properties in South Glendale, particularly those that help define and distinguish our community and give it a sense of place.
Preservation is hard work – and oftentimes exasperating – but it can still be a lot of fun. Exclusive tours of stained glass in customarily off-limit areas of the Grand Mausoleum at Forest Lawn-Glendale; walking tours of historic neighborhoods in previously unexplored areas of Glendale; meeting up at local watering holes such as the Austin Powers-themed bar in the historic Security Trust and Savings Bank; and who can forget last year’s Holiday Party at the Museum of Neon Art where we all cheered at the relighting of the beloved Zinke’s Shoe Repairs sign? Thanks to your generous support, the animated neon sign was preserved and restored and will remain here in Glendale for all to enjoy.
And that’s what makes the work we do so rewarding, so thank you!
Acknowledgments: As another year closes and new one begins, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding service of outgoing Board Members Bruce Merritt and Francesca Smith, who I know will continue to remain active in the organization.
I would also like to congratulate newly-elected Board Members Lilian Balasanian and Robert Gordon who will be joining re-elected Board Members Andrew Allison, Steve Hunt and Joemy Wilson, and current Board Members Derek Catao, Laura Crook, Marcia Hanford, Catherine Jurca, Zara Rostomian, Executive Director Sean Bersell and me for another fun and productive year!