As the Fairfax Theatre is added to the National Register, there's hope for the almost demolished Kuromi-Ito house and springs

Gentle reader,

Greetings from your friendly historic Los Angeles sightseeing tour company, now offering digital programming until we can again organize groups to gather and explore the city we love.

Last week, after a white knuckle hearing before the State Historical Resources Commission, the endangered Fairfax Threatre was officially declared a National Register landmark for its significance to the 20th century Jewish community! If you missed it, you can follow along virtually through our live tweets.

And tomorrow, Thursday August 5 at 10am, the Cultural Heritage Commission considers making it a city landmark, too. How could they not?

Property owner Alex Gorby demolished the interior in advance of landmark hearings, and has been sending his toughest land use attorney to oppose designation, so tune in and watch the fur fly. You can even call to show support.

Also on the agenda (PDF link) are Otomisan, the last Japanese restaurant in Boyle Heights, and the daffy storybook John Van Pelt compound in the Silver Lake hills.

These twice monthly hearings are such a great opportunity to discover unknown Los Angeles lore and hear passionate arguments from both sides of the preservation trenches—highly recommended! And you can usually find us weighing in in real time on Twitter and Facebook.

In our last newsletter, we expressed concern about the fate of 1991 N. Alexandria, a 1923 Spanish bungalow on a double lot, with natural springs feeding the koi ponds and lush gardens planted by the pioneering flower farming Kuromi-Ito family, whose archives are featured in a new Huntington Library exhibition. Sold to controversial developer Thomas James Homes for $2.9M in May, the demolition permit was approved in June.

But all is not lost! Cheers to the planning staff of Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who responded to community outcry over the pending demolition, and moved quickly to ensure that Hollywood Heritage’s previously rejected landmark nomination would be heard. The demolition permit is now on hold, and the matter will be on the CHC agenda for August 19.

We so look forward to learning more about this fascinating family, and joining the community in advocating for protection of the home and the precious springs—which according to concerned neighbors, are spilling out into the gutter!

Book your Miniature Los Angeles ticket

Thanks to each of you who have reserved a spot for our debut Thursday evening webinar, Miniature Los Angeles: Meet the Artists Who Craft Tiny Versions of the Historic Landmarks Angelenos Love on August 19. You can watch live and participate in the Q&A, or catch the recording on-demand for a week.

We can’t wait to share these artists’ visionary work with you, and are also busily brainstorming and researching upcoming topics. With some very special guests in the wings, we’ll need a little more time to lock down dates, so please stay tuned for new webinars to be announced soon. And of course all of the past webinars are still available as recordings whenever you’re in the mood for a time travel trip.

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Remembering Pat Adler, History Detective: she sleuthed the mean streets of 1960s Los Angeles, in search of likely landmarks and treasures soon to be demolished—a remarkable archive reveals a city at once familiar and wonderfully strange.


Questions swirl around City Attorney and Building & Safety Commission demanding demolition of Boyle Heights' German Hospital when a preservation minded owner sought to make it affordable housing. City Council now considers the first bill/lien: $36,101.34. (That’s just cleaning and fencing the lot and graffiti abatement. The cost of tearing down the incredibly solid building will be much higher. )

What will become of this huge, peculiar parcel in Lincoln Heights, with a storefront at the sidewalk, Victorian home in the center and fire damaged bungalow court apartments behind—zoned as Recreational - Club, Lodge Hall, Fraternal Organization (?!).

Spied on one of our recent #esotouricroadtrips, after visiting the Huntington Park Farmers Market. The first thing we saw was the ancient blade sign, then the solid brick barn of the State Street Laundry building, and for a second there, we couldn't tell you what year it was. This 1937 time capsule is for sale. Save me!

A love letter to the Tiki Adult Theater, the last XXX establishment on what was once East Hollywood's seedy Sleaze Row. The loss of the Tiki's amazing backlit plastic sign broke a lot of hearts a few years back. Ed Ruscha caught the scene in 1974, too.

The sprawling pink palace at 634 Stone Canyon Road, left unattended since 9/11 by its owner Ibrahim bin Laden, is on the market as a $28 Million tear down. It was for many years home to songwriter-producer Arthur Freed.

Historic-Cultural Monument application submitted for the prominently sited Chinatown Broadway branch of the Bank of America, which applies classical Chinese motifs to a modernist structure (Gilbert Lester Leong and Richard Layne Tom, 1971)

Historic-Cultural Monument application submitted for Fire Station No. 14 (Earl T. Heitschmidt, 1949) at 34th and Central Avenue. It’s already listed on the National Register along with a suite of African-American cultural landmarks.

Historic-Cultural Monument application submitted for the J. Harold Cantarow house at 1130 Sunset Vale (Alexander Ban, 1963). When it sold in September for $2M it was a perfect early 1960s bachelor pad time capsule.

This incredible snippet of footage by montage master Slavko Vorkapich is a wild dance atop a kaleidoscopic Los Angeles City Hall and other DTLA landmarks—though the lost 1928 film was called Manhattan Cocktail. (And if you liked that, buckle up and watch this.)

From Ben Welsh of the L.A. Times, Fresh off the press: A 3-D printed model of William Pereira's mid-century extension to Times Mirror Square, the former Los Angeles headquarters. Threatened with demolition due to Jose Huizar’s sabotage of our landmark designation, this colorful trinket reminds us that the greenest building is the one that’s already here.

April Brooks Clemmer took a brief stroll on Hollywood Boulevard and documented two preservation losses: the removal of the Egyptian Theatre courtyard palms, and the unpermitted gutting of the adjacent Pig ‘n Whistle restaurant. Because the Egyptian is a protected landmark, Netflix' removal of these palms was not a surprise, and even discussed at a CHC hearing. The restaurant appears to have quietly closed in the wake of the sex abuse scandal last spring. Here's Huell Howser getting the 2001 restoration tour, and that’s legendary Hollywood preservationist Robert Nudelman showing him around.

Dig Klaus Kremmerz' moody illustrations for a new Chinese edition of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye (Chinese copyright law has the book in the public domain).

Half a million bucks in a free box of unwanted Lego blocks. Blessed are the trash pickers. This story from artist Jim Woodring will haunt you.

After a couple of idiot drone pilots scared the Elegant Terns away from their Bolsa Chica nesting zone, Southern California's sea going folk pulled together to keep hatchlings alive around the Long Beach Harbor barges where their parents resettled.

New owners of Maxime's, 519 S. Broadway (Charles Plummer with Welton Becket, 1923), a lovely & heavily vandalized building opposite the Roxie Theatre, have brought Drisko Studio Architects in to renovate! Herman Lentzner traded here.

Los Angeles recently cleared a 7 acre industrial site off Slauson and selected Bakewell & Assoc. to develop the former CRA land. Danny Bakewell owns the Sentinel newspaper and has an interesting history in Compton.

RIP to Altadena’s Foss Estate, a run down Arts & Crafts / Art Nouveau gem flipped by tasteless speculators into something that hurts our eyes and heart. Before. And (yuck) after.

Joel Kotkin's been making a list as Eric Garcetti's horrible tenure nears its end and it's plain the mayor will be getting coal in his stocking this Xmas and in years to come. But this city is stronger than one lame leader. Onward, Angelenos!

Digging the community conversation that Historic Denver has launched with "50 Actions for 50 Places," celebrating the places that might not be endangered, but that locals "couldn't imagine Denver without." It makes a great visitor guide, too!

File under dreams for sale: Owl Pen Books is a bookstore in a converted barn in Washington County, New York. Comes with a 19th century farm house to live in, and 100 acres of protected woodland. Maybe you're the next steward of this special place?

Steve Lopez' column appears to be about a popular Lincoln Heights night market and the frustrations of the surrounding residential community, but it's really the story of a council office only capable of/interested in aiding developers. That’s why these folks ran for local office.

Grim news: the Dixie Fire has taken Rich Bar, the gold rush ghost town that was designated California Historical Landmark #337.

After demolishing LACMA's campus, Michael Govan trolls Angelenos by giving Pereira's iconic fluted columns to a local artist to repurpose as pocket park furniture. It just feels cruel. More on Cayetano Ferrer's @tano4g Instagram.

Another LACMA bummer: If you don't respect Los Angeles and rode the subway once, you might write this piece blaming Angelenos for Govan's deception and the Supervisors' stewardship failure, and declare the unbuilt Zumthor a masterpiece. But did LACMA pay for the writer's visit?

The lovely Rafu Bussan gift shop (est. 1958) is a perfect candidate for protection and financial aid under a municipal Legacy Business Registry, but Los Angeles still doesn't have one. So local nonprofit Little Tokyo Community Council stepped in to help.

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Our pandemic series of webinars is now available as On-Demand recordings: Elysian ParkVictorian L.A.Downtown Artists4th & MainLlano del RioDowntown Treasure HuntWilshire SunsetFanteArt Deco Leisure SuitsPaul R. WilliamsSaving South L.A. LandmarksBirth of NoirStorybook ArchitectureDark Side of the West SideHotel CecilL.A. Historic Preservation, 1900s-1980sArchitecture of DeathCrawford’s MarketsJohn Bengtson’s Silent Film LocationsGeorge Mann’s Vintage L.A.Pershing SquareCafeterias of Old L.A.Programmatic ArchitectureAngels FlightGrand Central MarketOhio River ValleyBunker HillBukowskiChandlerBlack DahliaDutch Chocolate ShopBradbury BuildingTunnelsL.A. Times Bombing and 13 Uncanny Crimes & Mysteries.


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We're dark until public health officials and we determine that groups can gather safely. But in addition to on-demand webinar programs, we've got 138 episodes of the podcast You Can't Eat The Sunshine free to download for armchair explorers, and videos of the Downtown L.A. LAVA walking tours, plus Cranky Preservationist videos.