“THE SUCCESS OF OUR MEMBERSHIP DRIVES, HOME TOURS AND FUNDRAISING EVENTS – WHILE ALWAYS IMPRESSIVE SOCIAL OCCASIONS – ALLOW US TO REMAIN NOT ONLY A STRONG VOICE FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION BUT OFTEN AN EFFECTIVE ONE AS WELL; AND WE HAD TWO REALLY BIG PRESERVATION 'WINS' LAST YEAR.”
– GREG GRAMMER, PRESIDENT
This has been another productive year for TGHS 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, the house received nearly 2,800 visitors.
Earlier this year we retained the services of Architectural Resources Group (ARG), a professional consulting firm that specializes in historic architecture and preservation, to prepare a Condition Assessment Report for the Doctors House and Gazebo. While both structures are in overall good condition, the report includes several recommendations and a five-year preservation plan that prioritizes needed repair, restoration and maintenance. We have shared the report with the City of Glendale’s Community Services and Parks Department so the City can allocate the appropriate funds in its budgets over the next several years; the City has already started on some of the recommended work, and we are currently seeking grant funds to address some of our responsibilities in the house’s interior, including wallpaper restoration and replacement and new window shades to better protect the collection and furnishings.
We also restored the six commemorative plaques on the gate leading up to the Doctors House that honor and recognize the volunteers and benefactors who made the 1980 move and subsequent restoration of the house possible.
Restoration Expo: In April, we kicked off Preservation Month a little early on the front lawn of the Doctors House with our second annual Restoration Expo. The Expo provides the community with the tools and resources to assist with the preservation and upkeep of their vintage homes. The 2017 Expo was even bigger than the previous year, and we look forward to making this an annual event.
Home Tour: Our biggest annual event remains the Home Tour, and last year’s Spanish Splendor Home Tour, which featured five wonderful Spanish Colonial Revival and Mediterranean Revival homes from the 1920s and 1930s, attracted more than 500 tour-goers and raised about $14,000. Special thanks to the owners who agreed to open their beautiful homes and to our sponsors, G&C Properties and The Walt Disney Company.
Gala & Benefit: Our other large fundraiser was the fourth annual Gala & Benefit, An Enchanted Evening at the Bouffleur Estate, which was a huge success and raised about $12,000 for our endowment and preservation funds. At the event, we recognized Glendale Arts with our 2017 Preservation Award for the Alex Theatre’s ILLUMINATE Tower & Spire Restoration Project, a successful fundraising campaign to bring the 100-foot neon tower and starburst back to its former glory. Arlene Vidor was the recipient of The Carole Dougherty Lifetime Achievement Award for her exemplary leadership and service in advancing the cause of preservation in Glendale. Many thanks to event sponsors G&C Properties and The Walt Disney Company.
Financial Health: We finished the 2016-17 fiscal year with revenues of about $134,000 and expenses of approximately $112,000, which amounts to a net income of $22,000 – or 16% of gross income. TGHS has approximately $72,000 in its checking account, $102,000 on “reserve” in CDs and just over $60,000 in our endowment fund.
What is TGHS doing with this money?
We have provided financial support to help offset about half of the application fees for historic districts, including the recently proposed Casa Verdugo Historic District and the South Cumberland Heights Historic District, and are currently working with other potential districts that are interested in preserving the character and craftsmanship of the homes in their neighborhoods. We know that there are several eligible historic districts out there, and we are prepared to assist. We are also preparing for the organization’s long-term viability and have established a goal of having a paid staff member, similar to our counterparts in Pasadena and Los Angeles. We made an important first step by hiring a summer intern from USC. Also, while TGHS is not a litigious organization and has never filed a lawsuit in its 38-year history, the Board felt it was important that we have the funds available to mount a legal challenge should the need arise to protect a historic resource. And, while we are pursuing grant opportunities for the Doctors House, there will be some substantial expenses in the coming years for the interior upkeep and maintenance.
Membership: In May, we held our seventh annual Taste of Spain Membership Drive – this time paired with an outdoor screening of the film noir classic Mildred Pierce – at the beautifully preserved 1927 Spanish Colonial Revival home of Anita Rinaldi-Harnden and Russ Harnden, which attracted 25 new members. TGHS now has a total of 716 members – getting us closer to our goal of 1000 members by the year 2020.
Preservation Advocacy: The success of our membership drives and fundraising events – while always impressive social occasions – allow us to remain not only a strong voice for historic preservation but often an effective one as well, and we had two really big preservation “wins” last year.
First, for decades TGHS has been pressing City officials to conduct a comprehensive, citywide historic resources survey to identify, assess and document architecturally significant properties that are worthy of protection. Such a survey would make it clear to the city, potential developers and the community, what buildings are important and should be preserved. A historic resources survey has now been completed by consultants Historic Resources Group (HRG) for South Glendale, as part of the City’s South Glendale Community Plan, covering approximately 9,000 parcels. With the help of our intern, we will be thoroughly reviewing and commenting on the initial draft survey to make sure all potential buildings have been identified. We will be sure to keep the membership posted on when the final draft of the survey is available for public comment.
Second, thanks to the excellent work of our Preservation Advocacy Committee and everyone who wrote in or attended the City Council meeting, we were able to convince the City to change its misguided policy of allowing developers to select their own consultants to prepare Environmental Impact Reports on large projects. The purpose of an EIR is to protect the public interest by analyzing expected project impacts on such things as traffic, parking, noise, and – of primary concern to us – historic resources. Going forward, the City, not the developer, will select the consultant from a pre-approved list to prepare the environmental analysis. No longer will there be the inherent conflict of interest that comes from having developers hire the people who determine whether a building they want to tear down is architecturally or historically significant.
Three structures were added to the Glendale Register within the last year, including the 1958 Barker House, which was featured on our 2015 Mad for Modern Home Tour; the 1929 Irving Air Chute Factory Building, which received our 2015 Preservation Award; and Benetti House, a 1931 arroyo stone cottage. There are now 116 properties listed on the Glendale Register of Historic Resources with several applications pending approval.
One of those is Casa Verdugo, the 1907 Mission Revival home at 1235 North Louise Street designed by architect Charles Shattuck that served as the famous Spanish restaurant operated by Piedad Yorba Sowl; it was later the home of Johnston McCulley who created the fictional character, Zorro. TGHS prepared and submitted the application for landmark designation – a first for our organization.
But we didn’t stop there. TGHS also prepared an application to nominate the Glendale Civic Auditorium, located at 1401 North Verdugo Road, to the California Register of Historical Resources to ensure that it has the recognition and protection it deserves. The iconic building was completed in 1938 as a WPA-funded project. We are working on a Glendale Register nomination for the magnificent 1928 Alfred Priest-designed Kiefer & Eyerick Mortuary Building at 314 East Harvard Street, which is the current home of the Assistance League of Glendale.
We were also pleased that the City finally agreed to solicit proposals for Rockhaven Sanitarium and is now in the process of negotiating a development agreement with Gangi Design on a project that would preserve and restore the historic property as a commercial center and public park. While the selected project wasn’t the Board’s first choice, we are thrilled to see something great move forward that meets the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and adaptively reuses this long-neglected historic site.
In response to a new state law that requires cities to allow property owners to construct Accessory Dwelling Units – also known as Granny Flats – without design review or public input, we reached out to and worked closely with various homeowner associations to successfully advocate for City adoption of reasonable standards to minimize the impacts on Glendale’s older, established neighborhoods and historic resources.
Unfortunately, last year was not all good news. As the pressure for new housing development intensifies, Craftsman bungalows, an important part of Glendale’s early heritage, remain vulnerable to demolition to make way for large, out-of-scale development projects. Within the past year alone at least 26 Craftsman bungalows have been demolished or threatened with demolition, which is why we decided to declare 2017 as “The Year of the Craftsman.”
TGHS has continued to comment on a number of these development projects and, together, we have been successful at saving some of the targeted Craftsmans, at least for now, on Kenwood, Hawthorne and Valley View. At 510-512 West Doran, we were successful at preventing one-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. We were not opposed to the proposed relocation of the historic house on the property to make way for some new, compatible housing units. However, while the house will remain intact, the Design Review Board recently approved a development project with oversized structures that simply overwhelms the historic Craftsman house and, in our view, creates a significant adverse impact. TGHS is still deciding what our next steps should be, and we will keep you posted.
We regularly consult with preservation experts, architects and legal counsel for advice and to ensure that the City adheres to the appropriate review process as provided for under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which we believe it often fails to do. We expect that these and other projects that threaten Craftsmans and flout the CEQA process will come back again – so be on the lookout for our Preservation Action Alerts and please be prepared to write-in, or better yet, attend and comment at DRB or City Council meetings. Your voice matters!
To call attention to the significance of the Arts & Crafts movement and Glendale’s remaining Craftsman architecture, this year we have conducted walking tours of Craftsman homes in the Casa Verdugo neighborhood and in Downtown Glendale and took two small groups on a special tour of the Batchelder Tile Exhibit at the Pasadena History Museum. This year’s Home Tour, California Craftsman: Glendale’s Vanishing Heritage, will be held on September 24 and feature five charming Craftsman-style homes built between 1902 and 1915. We will have more Craftsman-related events, talks and walking tours to announce later in the year, so stay tuned.
Habitat for Humanity: For those who are interested in rolling up their sleeves and doing some solid preservation work, I am pleased to announce that we have formed a new partnership with the San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity to repair and restore older and historic homes and help seniors and low-income families in need here in Glendale.
Acknowledgements: As we wind down another year, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding service of outgoing Doctors House Director Sonia Montejano and outgoing Board Member Margaret Hammond. Over the past nine years, Sonia has done an incredible job at reinvigorating our beloved Victorian gem and inspiring pride and participation in the house museum. I would also like to thank Margaret Hammond for her incredible 31 years of service on the Board of Directors. Since 1986, Margaret served in a number of capacities including Vice President of Tours and Fundraising, Secretary, Treasurer, Historian, and Special Events Chair, and has always been – and continues to be – a strong advocate for the Adams Hills neighborhood.
I am so lucky to be working with such an active and passionate membership and a devoted and talented Board of Directors, including Laura Crook, now in her new role as Doctors House Director, Marcia Hanford, Steve Hunt, Catherine Jurca, Bruce Merritt, Francesca Smith and Joemy Wilson, as well as our invaluable volunteer Executive Director Sean Bersell and new summer intern, Katrina Casteñeda.