Join us this Tuesday for "Will Cornelius Johnson’s Olympic Oak live long enough to become a Los Angeles landmark?" (Free L.A. Preservation Talk #2)
A remarkable preservation battle is playing out in the flats of West Adams and Pico-Union, where handsome historic homes outside the protected HPOZ borders are getting flipped and demolished by developers who pay far more than any family looking for a nice place to live can afford.
One of these threatened homes can be found at 1156 South Hobart, and in the neglected, hardscape backyard stands a tree with an astonishing history: Cornelius Johnson’s Olympic Oak. It was presented to a local Los Angeles athlete who took the gold medal for the high jump at the 1936 Berlin games, endured a racist snub from Adolf Hitler, and carried the sapling home, where it grew to a majestic height behind his parents’ home.
You might have read about the battle to save Corny’s oak and family home in the New York Times, or on our blog. This Thursday, the matter comes up for a second, deciding vote at the Cultural Heritage Commission (agenda PDF link). If they say yes, it will move to the PLUM Committee and full City Council, where Historic-Cultural Monuments are declared.
But that might not be enough to save this incredible tree.
Please join us tomorrow, Tuesday August 2 at 7pm (or stream it later, on-demand) for a free webinar exploring the challenges of landmarking a living thing which is suffering from profound neglect. Our special guest is distinguished horticulturist and tree historian Dr. Donald R. Hodel (author of Exceptional Trees of Los Angeles), to share his prescription for the immediate actions required if the struggling oak is to survive long enough to become a protected landmark.
We’ll answer your questions about the tree and the landmarking process, and explain how you can help advocate with the Cultural Heritage Commission and city leaders to go beyond the traditional HCM designation process to act decisively to save a tree that matters not just to Angelenos, but to the world.
Please tune in, and spread the word! Together with the landmark nominators, the dedicated preservation advocates of West Adams Heritage Association, Dr. Donald R. Hodel and fans of old trees and Olympic medalists everywhere, we believe it’s not too late to Save Corny’s Oak!
yours for Los Angeles,
Kim & Richard
Psst… If you’d like to support our efforts to be the voice of places worth preserving, we have a tip jar and a subscriber edition of this newsletter, vintage Los Angeles webinars available on demand, in-person walking tours, gift certificates and a souvenir shop you can browse in. Or just share this link with other people who care.
UPCOMING TOURS: We’ve got a pair of cool late morning Downtown history tours coming up, each departing from Grand Central Market. On Saturday, August 6 it’s Raymond Chandler’s Noir Downtown Los Angeles. (Can’t make it? We also have a Chandler webinar that you can view on-demand). Then on August 13 we’ll be exploring Broadway, to talk about the rise, decline and potential of this beautiful mess of a National Register Historic Theatre District.