Q: When is a Los Angeles landmark just a pile of junk? A: When City Hall intervenes for their developer pals... but it's not too late for Taix!
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. Maybe that won’t be too much longer now.
This week, preservationists were on high alert as the “landmarking” of Taix French Restaurant in Echo Park came up for a City Council vote—despite promises from the council office that discussions about the project were ongoing and it had been scheduled in error.
Landmarking is in quotes because, after the Cultural Heritage Commission voted to approve designation of the beloved community hub, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced an addendum sabotaging their intent: instead of the building, he sought to salvage only a tiny neon sign (see arrow above), a chunk of the bar and a billboard. These pathetic artifacts would presumably be stuck somewhere in a brand new “landmark” building.
The Los Angeles Conservancy calls this sham what it is: “O'Farrell's motion not only dismisses Taix as a historic resource but greatly undermines the City's Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) program and sets a dangerous precedent.”
It’s actually not the first time a councilman has rewritten a successful landmark nomination for the benefit of a developer: that distinction belongs to our Los Angeles Times nomination, rewritten by future felon Jose Huizar. It’s all legal, but highly unsavory. And it’s just plain bad for Los Angeles.
Washington State developer Holland Partner Group bought Taix in an off-market deal, and seeks to clear cut and rezone the lot to build a dense new mixed use complex. There’s no legitimate reason that the historic Taix building can’t be integrated into this new development, other than Holland being cheap and lacking imagination.
In the end, this week Mitch O’Farrell did ask that the vote be delayed until June 2, which is just around the corner.
If you share our concern about City Council bending over backwards to demolish Los Angeles history while making out-of-state developers richer, please make a brief emailed public comment before June 2 by clicking NEW. Ask Councilmember O'Farrell to rescind his amendment to the Taix landmarking, and state that the designation should only be approved as originally recommended and unanimously approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission. This will keep the Taix building intact and allow a redesigned project to be built around or above it, with full environmental review.
We appreciate your taking a moment to speak out to help save Taix, and if you have any questions, you can connect with the Friends of Taix on Facebook here.
There’s a new post for paid subscribers to this newsletter, all about our visit to Hall of Waters in Excelsior Springs, MO. The impressive Mayan Art Deco spa facility, built with Federal funds on a site that had grown organically to serve health seekers and the medical hucksters who preyed upon them, presents a fascinating preservation problem with some surprising Southern California connections—the elevator door, above, is based on Batchelder tile designs. Did he even know? If you’d like to read this and past special edition newsletters, it’s just $10 to subscribe for the month, or $100 for the year.
This Saturday’s webinar is Precious Relics of Victorian Los Angeles with virtual visits to two fascinating city landmarks. On Carroll Avenue, we’ll meet Kevin Segall and Steph Rogers, currently restoring the Historic J.B. Winston House (Joseph Cather Newsom, 1889). High above Lincoln Heights, Dydia DeLyser and Paul Greenstein share their experience restoring their Queen Anne-style Young-Gribling Residence (R.B. Young, 1885). Bunker Hill historian Nathan Marsak tells the stories of architects Newsom and Brown, and Gordon Pattison shares the sad tale of how his family’s Bunker Hill mansions were saved—only to be lost again at Heritage Square. Join us, do!
And next Saturday, May 29, it’s The Treasures and Tragedies of Elysian Park. By popular demand, we’ll look into the Chavez Ravine evictions and the broken promises of modern public housing for displaced residents, with historian Nathan Marsak and displaced Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison. Faux bois artisan Terry Eagan joins us for a virtual tour of the hidden landmark waterfall rock gardens at the Los Angeles Police Academy, crafted in concrete by master sculptor Francois Scotti. Plus epic battles to preserve the park, how Barlow Sanitarium has been there for Angelenos through three pandemics, and Courtland Jindra’s campaign to restore the forgotten WWI Victory Memorial Grove.
Stay tuned as we roll out a new webinar program each Saturday. And remember if you can’t watch live or need to leave mid-stream, you can watch the recording for one full week. There’s still time to see A Gallery of Downtown Los Angeles Artists Celebrated and Obscure through Saturday night.
These webinars are now available as On-Demand recordings: 4th & Main • Llano del Rio Utopian Colony • Downtown L.A. Treasure Hunt • Wilshire Boulevard • Sunset Boulevard • John Fante • Art Deco Leisure Suits • Paul R. Williams • Saving South L.A. Landmarks • Birth of Noir • Storybook Architecture • Dark Side of the West Side • Hotel Cecil • L.A. Historic Preservation, 1900s-1980s • Southern California’s Architecture of Death • Crawford’s Markets • John Bengtson’s Silent Film Locations • George Mann’s Vintage L.A. • Pershing Square • Cafeterias of Old L.A. • Programmatic Architecture • Angels Flight • Grand Central Market • Ohio River Valley • Bunker Hill • Charles Bukowski • Raymond Chandler • Black Dahlia • Dutch Chocolate Shop • Bradbury Building • Tunnels • L.A. Times Bombing and 13 Uncanny Crimes & Mysteries.
And we’d love to see you Saturday at noon for Precious Relics of Victorian Los Angeles.
yours for Los Angeles,
Kim & Richard
Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Slip Into Hall of Waters, a ragged Mayan Art Deco marvel awaiting its next act—we find haunting relics in a basement bomb shelter.
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If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history, please consider signing up for (or gifting) the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Gift certificates are available for any webinar in our library or upcoming calendar, starting at $10. Printed matter? We’ve got a swell selection of books and maps, some written by us, others sourced from dusty warehouses. For a wider selection, Bookshop uses the power of distributor Ingram to help independent bookstores stick around. We've curated a selection of uniquely Los Angeles titles, and when you order from these links, it supports participating local shops, and us, too. You can also click here before shopping on Amazon... & if you love what we do, please tell your friends.
AND WHAT'S THE NEXT TOUR? WHO KNOWS?!
We're dark until public health officials and we determine that groups can gather safely. But in addition to weekly 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.
AND FINALLY, LINKS
Motion filed by councilman Kevin de Leon (CD14) for Los Angeles to extend rent forgiveness to the merchants of El Pueblo through the end of June 2021. We would love to see the city create a legacy business registry that would help historic businesses with private landlords survive, too!
Author Lisa See's family has been looking after a box of glass plate negatives of old Chinatown for many decades. Now these delicate treasures have been gifted to the Huntington Library, where they can be studied and preserved.
Are you a Judy Garland fan who always dreamed of operating a house museum not far from Lancaster's (non-narcotic) Poppy Reserve? Judy's childhood home is on the market—if not now, when? The idea has been floating around for years
A brilliant idea from mid-century Vancouver: street photographers surreptitiously snapped fashionable strollers in the business district, then tried to sell them the candid shots. Many paid up.
Is there a coordinated campaign to create recall websites for Los Angeles city council members Nithya Raman and Mike Bonin? Per http://lookup.icann.org/lookup, recallraman.com and .org were created 4/11/21 and recallbonin2021 on 4/12/21.
Another William Pereira in Peril, and the peril is immediate. Preserve Orange County reports that large sections of Golden West College in Huntington Beach, a 19 building master plan district (1963-66), are being demolished now.
Public records requests can hint at future reporting. This week, we learned that Dana Goodyear—she covered our Save LACMA campaign!—is working on a New Yorker podcast about Mitrice Richardson's tragic and unexplained death.
Eric Garcetti gaslights Los Angeles by hosting low density design competitions and publishing studies praising preservation—while his Planning Commissioners approve demolition of naturally occurring affordable housing at every hearing. One disappointed team who entered, Urban Renewable, share their designs and thoughts on the competition: High Expectations, Low-Rise Results.
RIP to Richard Neutra's Frederic Slavin House (1956) in Santa Barbara's Riviera, victim of an electrical blaze. Firefighters might have been able to save this beauty, if exploding ordinance stored on the lower floor hadn't driven them back!
New owners caught illegally gutting landmark 1907 Craftsman claim to have had no idea when they dropped $2M bucks that it was protected with Mills Act tax benefits. As if! There's a big fine if they don't "fix it," but 215 S. Wilton will never be the same.
Lazy Acres lease announced, the tenant for which Megdal sought to demolish Sister Corita Kent's art studio for a couple of parking spots. The cultural landmark is under consideration by the city and Megdal claims they don't seek to demo now. We'll see.
We dig Frank Lloyd Wright, historic preservation and the (still closed to the public) UNESCO site Barnsdall Park as much as anyone, but the idea that Measure K youth benefit grant funds ought to be awarded to fix up Residence A is nuts. Wright tourism appeals to a mature market.
The bookworm's dream bedroom with built-ins by Richard Neutra is at the heart of the Edwin Loeb Estate (Sumner Spaulding, 1940), on the market for the first time since 1946. Preservation-minded buyers only, inquire within.
Netflix bought and shuttered the Egyptian Theatre, the nonprofit American Cinematheque's only asset. (Netflix exec Ted Sarandos sits on the AC board.) AC announced daily programming at Los Feliz 3 with Vintage Cinemas, new 35mm equipment. Nice, but it ain't Hollywood.
A fascinating tale of a wealthy sucker (Phil Collins), the antique dealers who got rich selling him phony Alamo relics, and why Texas taxpayers could be on the hook for $300 Million to house the bunk. When in doubt about provenance... ask a psychic?
Hanford's time capsule Taoist Temple in China Alley was badly damaged in a suspicious fire. We pray for the community, and that the archives and artifacts can be salvaged from the ash. The site features in the documentary The Last Temple (1972).
Billionaire Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong's claim to have "abstained" on the vote to sell Tribune to Alden is false—he didn't fill his ballot out at all. Did he not read the instructions either? The Los Angeles Times' union is unimpressed: "When investors are passive, the vultures are active." Some hero of the free press, eh?