“Thanks to all of the committee chairpersons, committee members and volunteers who have dedicated thousands of hours to make this a memorable year.”
– STEVE HUNT, PRESIDENT
The Glendale Historical Society’s 40th Anniversary celebrations and events have made this year a very active, enjoyable, and successful year. By the end of this calendar year we will have completed almost 30 events. Thanks to all of the committee chairpersons, committee members and volunteers who have dedicated thousands of hours to make this a memorable year.
Raising the Bar: A “Raising the Bar” event in August started off the new year.
Home Tour: In September, our focus was on the annual Home Tour. As usual Past TGHS President Arlene Vidor presented a talk “A Romp Through The Revivals – Hollywood’s European Fantasyland,” which was entertaining and a great precursor to our “Royal Revivals” Home Tour. And, by many accounts the tour was one of our best. Six period revival homes in the Royal Boulevard Historic District to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Glendale’s first historic district were open for tours. Close to 650 people toured these homes. Thanks to our homeowners, 120 volunteers and our sponsors Avery Dennison, Community Foundation of the Verdugos, Disney, Ellis Family Stores, and Glendale Builders’ Supplies for their support.
Doctors House Museum: “Beneath the Veil” was presented at the Doctors House in October. A biennial event, the theme this year was the commemoration of the Spanish flu epidemic 100 years ago. It was attended by over 130 visitors.
And in December we were back at the Doctors House with our annual “Candlelight Tours.” Close to 250 visitors toured the house and enjoyed the music, entertainment, and refreshments during the holiday season.
40th Anniversary Events: We had a great start to the calendar year with notable local historian Paul Ayers giving a presentation on the history of the “Red Cars” in Glendale and a second presentation on silent movie locations in Glendale. Both presentations were held at the Glendale Central Library auditorium before packed crowds.
Our good fortunes continued with a presentation by Eric Lynxwiler at the Alex Theatre about architect S. Charles Lee who designed the Art Deco façade of the Alex theatre.
Something new this year was our “Raising the Bar PLUS” events. A fun evening including dinner and some history at Damon’s Steak House followed by a very enjoyable evening at the Montrose Bowl. Our thanks to Damon’s and to DIGGS Glendale who sponsored these events.
March found us spending time at Forest Lawn Glendale Memorial Park. Our relationship with Forest Lawn has grown in the last few years and developed into a true partnership. During this month, we learned about the early history of Forest Lawn, attended an enjoyable lecture and tour about the “Secret Gardens of Forest Lawn.” Once again, we saw areas of this beautiful park not open to the public. And Forest Lawn is now a Gold Sponsor of The Glendale Historical Society
March ended with a unique event at the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot – Glendale’s historic train station – where the string ensemble Cantabile and TGHS celebrated the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Two significant events were held in April. On April 14th we enjoyed great family fun, games, and tours of the Doctors House at our annual Victorian Easter celebration with close to 400 people in attendance and uncountable amounts of laughter from the children.
On April 27th we celebrated as 40 new members joined TGHS and close to 140 members attended our annual Taste of Spain event held at the beautiful Spanish Revival home of Paul Lombardi and sponsored by The Walt Disney Company.
Our best Restoration Expo was held on May 11th at the Civic Auditorium. With 40 vendors and close to 500 visitors the Expo was indeed a success. Preservationist Brett Waterman, star of the DIY and HGTV show Restored, attracted over 100 people to his talk on rehabilitating historic homes. Our thanks to Aaron Reichert for opening his home to tours during the Expo. And thanks to our sponsors deasy penner podley, Hartman Baldwin, Dunn Edwards Paints, Silverlake Conservation, Period Piece Restorations, and Sunfire Defense for their support.
A fun event, if you like to walk, was our Adobe to Adobe walk/ride event on June 1st. About 50 people participated as we walked between two of the City’s oldest and most historic structures, Catalina Verdugo Adobe and Casa Adobe de San Rafael and Casa . Our thanks to co-sponsor Walk Bike Glendale, the Days of Verdugo Heritage Association, and Glendale Beautiful.
Our 40th Anniversary Gala & Benefit was a huge success. Home owners Stacey Boucher and Darren Merritt were kind enough to open their beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival landmark house for the event. Approximately 150 members and guests attended including a number of dignitaries from the state, county, and City. The highlights of evening were the presentation of volunteer awards to members Robin Lee Hansen, Don Snyder, Scott Smissen, and Francesca Smith. Preservation awards went to the Friends of Rockhaven, Onnig Bulanikian, Director of Community Services & Parks for the City of Glendale, for stewardship of the Doctors House, and to the South Glendale Historic Resources Survey. And our friend and former Executive Director Sean Bersell received the distinguished Zelia Blanton Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation. And thanks to our sponsors Disney, Forest Lawn, G&C Properties Avery Dennison, Hollywood Production Center, Supervisor Kathryn Barger, and Shiraz Rentals.
Our collaboration with the Alex Film Society and Glendale Arts produced a memorable and enjoyable evening at the Alex Theatre called Thanks for the Memories. Our thanks to sponsors Damon’s Steak House, Glendale Arts, and Disney.
Financial Health: Our financial position continues to look good. Our fiscal year does not close until the end of this month. However, TGHS has approximately $120,000 in our checking account, $148,000 in interest earning CDs, and $100,000 in our CFV endowment account (the future of TGHS account). All of these numbers show increases from last year and get us closer to realizing our goal of having a paid staff member to assist with many administrative functions.
Membership: At a recent Board meeting it was decided to raise the dues for several membership categories. It has been many years – in some cases decades – since our last membership dues increase. Our new membership rates will bring us in line with similar organizations in neighboring communities. The new rates will go into effect on January 1, 2020.
Speaking of membership, we now have over 800 members with about 100 Patron level members. We continue to move towards our goal of 1,000 members.
Preservation Advocacy: Last year, John Lautner’s Mid-century Modern masterpiece Schaffer House, built in 1949, was successfully nominated to the Glendale Register with the assistance of TGHS.
Joy House, a lovely 1932 Monterey Colonial Revival in the Verdugo Woodlands neighborhood was also added to that list.
In May over 50 people attended our Landmark This! Workshop about placing your property on the Glendale Register and a Mills Act contract. Presented by Historic Preservation Commissioners Lorna Vartanian and Chris Cragnotti. We encourage people to continue to place their properties on the Register and to take advantage of the Mills Act property tax incentives, which are more valuable now than ever with recent changes to federal tax law.
Since our last annual meeting, on July 31, the City adopted the South Glendale Historic Resources Survey. TGHS volunteers provided extensive feedback on the draft survey, which resulted in the addition of almost forty properties as locally eligible historic resources that we believed had been overlooked, and dozens more were added that warrant “special consideration in planning,” which means that future alterations would be expected to maintain building character, although the building itself isn’t considered historic. Properties found eligible for the Glendale Register in the Survey are now presumed to be historic resources under CEQA, which makes it harder for property owners to demolish them.
Just over a month ago 50 members of TGHS wrote to Council objecting to the owner’s plan to demolish 1642 W. Central, a 1913 Craftsman found eligible for the Glendale Register in the Survey. You asked Council to “stand by the Survey.” This was a huge show of support, and Council supported our position. The owner may not give up, but at least he will now be required to follow the proper process of preparing an EIR. And we hope that he will sell the property to a preservation-minded homeowner or possible a developer who will devise an adaptive reuse project for it.
TGHS was less successful in getting Council to overturn a Design Review Board decision allowing a more than 7,500 square foot house on the historic Ard Eevin property, immediately adjacent to that National Register home and the Ard Eevin-Highlands Historic District. The owner has since put the property up for sale, so the fate of this project remains uncertain.
We were also unsuccessful in getting the Design Review Board to recognize Clicko House as historic for its association with Glendale’s infamous history of racial discrimination. The property at 1442 Montgomery was for a short time the residence of Franz Taibosh, a famed circus performer originally from South Africa, who we know from a memoir written by his guardian was required to hide from white neighbors while he lived here. The DRB agreed with staff that the house was not historic and could be demolished. We use this as an opportunity to remind everyone that historic preservation is not simply about beautiful buildings but about the stories they tell about residents and communities and how they took shape and changed over time.
Unfortunately, the City’s progress on historic district applications has been lamentably slow. But the City has finally issued the request for proposals to hire a consultant to do the historic resources survey for the Casa Verdugo and South Cumberland Heights historic districts.
Another historic district nomination, for Bellehurst Hillslopes, has been submitted. This application may be combined with a previous application for the Highlands of Bellehurst Park to form a single district of over 300 homes. If these are all approved it would bring Glendale to ten historic districts.
Additional protections for pending historic districts, which as we know can wait years for approval after an application and petition have been filed, was a major feature of the proposed revisions to the historic preservation ordinance that Council considered starting in March. Council ended up passing a narrower version of the revised ordinance in May, which focused primarily on welcome changes to increase penalties for illegal demolition of historic resources, including those not formally designated on the Register. This was in the wake of the illegal demolition of 1420 Valley View Drive in 2018. Still, TGHS was disappointed that Council did not take advantage of the opportunity to improve the ordinance across the board, by adding provisions that would create: much greater clarity about the approval process for owners of historic properties; a larger role for the Historic Preservation Commission in making recommendations and decisions about properties involving historic resources that are not formally designated; improved protections for existing and pending historic districts; and prohibiting by demolition by neglect of historic resources.
TGHS has also been providing comments on environmental review documents for projects involving historic resources. Two projects, at 401-409 Hawthorne and 534 N. Kenwood, involve preservation of existing Craftsman houses, recognized as historically significant by the City, while still developing the site. In both cases, much larger buildings that are too close to the resource and do not defer to it in any way in terms of design or materials have been proposed and at least provisionally endorsed by City Staff. We had a similar problem last year as well with 512 W. Doran, where we unsuccessfully tried to reduce the size and proximity of large two-story townhouses next to a 1910 single-story Transitional Craftsman. We are hoping that the City and developers will figure out that simply leaving the house intact but allowing overwhelming and uninspired construction all around it is not a preservation solution. We have the Goode House to serve as a model for how development may be sensitively handled. We have submitted extensive comments on the City’s environmental review documents requesting project changes or the preparation of an EIR. Expect to hear more about these projects in the coming year.
TGHS has also kept a close eye on state measures involving historic resources, in particular Senate Bill 50, which preservation groups across the state have criticized as inadequate in terms of its protections of historic resources. For example, none of the properties recently found to be historic in the South Glendale Survey would qualify as historic for purposes of SB 50 unless they are formally designated. This measure was pulled off last year’s docket thanks to Senator Anthony Portantino, but it will be back in 2020. We need to make sure that as the State tries to deal with the dire shortage of affordable housing they do not do so at the expense of historic properties.
Acknowledgments: I would like to acknowledge the outstanding service of Outgoing Board Members Laura Crook, Cathy Jurca, and Greg Grammer.
Laura has been a Board member for four years as the Director liaison to the Doctors House and also the Director of the Doctors House for three years. We will miss her enthusiasm and laughter. Even though Laura is stepping down from the Board, the good news is she will continue on as the Director of the Doctors House.
Cathy has been a Board member for six years as our Vice President of Preservation Advocacy. During these six years Cathy has been responsible for strengthening our preservation advocacy efforts and has developed a reputation as a dedicated preservationist with deep knowledge and understanding of CEQA and preservation standards. Preservation is in her DNA and we will miss her presence at Board meetings, but we look forward to her continued participation and input on matters related to the preservation of Glendale’s historic resources.
Greg has been on the Board forever. I believe it has been 12 years. And we are the well-respected and robust organization, now with more than 800 members, because of Greg. He was President for 7 years and continued on the Board this current year to help with the transition to new leadership. Although Greg is leaving the Board, he is not going away. Greg is already planning and lining up homes for the 2020 and 2021 Home Tours and will be an active member of the Gala committee. There is not enough time or words to properly say thank you.
I would also like to congratulate newly-elected Board Members Kathleen Clark, Armen Karaoghlanian, Beth Marlis and Anita Rinaldi-Harnden. They will be joining re-elected Board Members Derek Catao, Marcia Hanford and Zara Rostomian and current Board Members Andrew Allison, Lilian Balasanian, Robert Gordon, Joemy Wilson and myself.