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Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract

Mar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneMar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay Zone

Mar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Mar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Mar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Mar Vista Historic Preservation Overlay Zone

“Roll down the window put down the top/ Crank up the Beach Boys baby/ Don’t let the music stop,” Randy Newman sings in his LA spoof turned anthem.  Regardless of whether we accept this song, it confirms our reputation linking Los Angeles and convertibles.

Well, 35 years before Randy Newman released Trouble In Paradise, Gregory Ain was also linking the California Dream and convertibles.  The dream- modern, post-war, sunshine-filled indoor/outdoor living. The convertible- the living room wall that can open so the room expands into the yard and the bedroom walls that can open to make one giant master bedroom.

The 1948 Advanced Development Company ads marketed these homes as “Modernique.” According to the Office of Historic Resources, the word is a combination of modern and unique.  The tract became an HPOZ because its residents came together and fought for its designation in 2003.  So, yes, that is quite unique.  The ranch-style neighborhood in which I grew up has been shamelessly mansionized.  But, these 1,060 square foot homes arranged in 8 different ways with respect to their placement to the street and to the garage… Residents are moved to protect them.  There’s just something about them.

To learn more that something something, check here: http://marvistatract.org/history.html

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Angelino Heights

Foy House, 1335 Carroll AvenueRussell House, 1316 Carroll Ave.Innes House, 1329 Carroll Ave.Pinney House, 1355 Carroll Avenue Irey House, 1325 Carroll Ave.Scheerer House, 1324 Carroll Ave.Angelino Heights1401 Carroll Ave.Angelino HeightsAngelino HeightsAngelino HeightsAngelino Heights

Former Chief of Police, Samuel Calvert Foy, built his home (top left) in 1872 on the corner of 7th and Figueroa.  In 1921, the house was moved down the block near the Good Samaritan Hospital.  In 1992, the house was moved, yet again, to 1325 Carroll Avenue, a street already included in the 1983 designated Angelino Heights Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ).

Though this is not the typical tale for the life of a house, it is not uncommon for Los Angeles buildings with Victorian virtues to be relocated.  While Heritage Square is the most obvious example, both 1321 and 1325 Carroll Avenue were also moved to the street in 1978 after spending nearly 90 years on Court Street, just a half mile away.

Carroll Avenue has become a safe haven for Victorian homes namely due to the Carroll Avenue Restoration Foundation, the Angelino Heights Community Organization, designation on the National Register of Historic Places, and its HPOZ status.  In fact, Angelino Heights was the first HPOZ in Los Angeles.

When it comes to being first, Angelino Heights is also often referred to as Los Angeles’s first suburb.  The land was developed during the railroad price wars of the mid-1880’s when similar developments were also taking shape in Lincoln Heights, Highland Park, University Park, and Boyle Heights.  Perhaps a more truthful and relevant observation is not whether or not this neighborhood came first, but that it stands last with the highest concentration of Victorian homes in Los Angeles.

Stonehurst

Stonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay ZoneStonehurst Historic Preservation Overlay Zone

In 1981, the Daily News interviewed a 56-year resident of Stonehurst named Judy Carmango. When speaking of the stonemason, Daniel Lawrence Montelongo, she describes him as a simple man, “He just picked up the rocks off the ground and piled them up.”

In a 2002 recount of Stonehurst by resident and San Fernando Valley Historical Society member, Albert Knight, Montelongo is described with near Herculean qualities.  “[Montelongo] could pick up and later place – by hand – even the largest stones, without using a hoist with a sling.” Knight also claims Montelongo was on good terms with “resident” actor Adolphe Menjou.

Adolphe Menjou, a silent film actor who made the talkie crossover, tells of the twists and turns of Hollywood homeownership in his autobiography, It Took Nine Tailors.  He says he bought a house on Doheny and Sunset in which he subsequently sank $15,000.  In 1924, he purchased 3 lots above Los Feliz Boulevard where he was to build a bungalow for him and his mother.  $25,000 later, his mother said, “What would I do in a huge house like that… I’d rattle around like four beans in a gourd.”  Menjou follows this tale by mentioning, “I bought a bungalow for Mother in San Fernando Valley.”

Was Menjou a resident of Stonehurst or did his mother live alone? Was Montelongo a genius stonemason with unprecedented strength or did he just receive a lucky commission from the Pep Rempp Organization?  David Gebhard, in the architectural guide to Los Angeles, says the following of these homes: “There is disagreement about them as there is about the English colony that is supposed to have lived here and the movie stars that are supposed to have vacationed in [Stonehurst] with the idea of ‘roughing it.’”

Unknowns aside, this is the highest concentration of buildings constructed of native materials in Los Angeles.  All these rocks were drawn from local washes.  For more information about the HPOZ, check here: http://preservation.lacity.org/node/422

Miracle Mile North

Spanish Colonial RevivalSpanish Colonial RevivalSpanish Colonial RevivalSpanish Colonial RevivalTutor RevivalTutor RevivalTutor RevivalTutor RevivalTutor RevivalTutor RevivalTutor RevivalTutor Revival

“Between Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills, but North of Wilshire” is simply too long of a title for this area whose identity is as nebulous as the reason behind there being no convenient route to drive to this part of the city.  You’d think after Disneyland-oriented developer, Rick Caruso, gave the neighboring Farmer’s Market a face-lift he would have subsidized easy access.  But, the transportation situation to this “Miracle Mile” has changed about as much as these Miracle Mile North buildings after becoming a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone in 1990.

This area is protected because it reflects Hancock Park in period revival styles, namely Spanish Colonial and Tutor.  Unlike their stylistic counterpart, these Miracle Mile North homes reflect neither Hollywood money nor oil money in lot size or bathroom count. These houses don’t make you shout, “What kinds of jobs could these people possibly have!” as you drive down their streets. These homes are single-story, storybook influenced, and family oriented.  While their aesthetics don’t currently stand out on a trek between Highland and La Cienega, it’s still comforting to know that in 30 years, even if all of Beverly Hills adjacent becomes another Park La Brea, we will still have 1/5 of a square mile to remember the period of development between 1924 and 1941.

Hancock Park

Hancock ParkHancock ParkHancock ParkHancock ParkHancock ParkHancock ParkHancock ParkHancock ParkHancock ParkHancock ParkHancock ParkHancock Park

Our Californio forefathers referred to the smelly, seepy, black stuff we call tar as la brea.  So, it’s no wonder the 4,439-acre land grant encompassing the tar pits was called “Rancho La Brea.”  The Rancho’s deeds passed through the hands of the Rocha family and landed in the lap of lawyer, Henry Hancock, for a mere $20,000.  Nowadays, a single house in Hancock Park runs around $6.5 million!

It seems either gates or topography deliberately seclude most multi-million dollar homes in Los Angeles.  So, I think the most striking aspect of this area is its vulnerability.  It just rests, unguarded, smack in the middle of everything.  I suppose it’s a good thing 1200 of these homes were declared the Hancock Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone in 2006.  Though I should add that HPOZs are to protect homes from their own owners, not from trespassers.

Common features among these 1920’s homes are that they are all set 50 feet back from the street and many of them have side driveways with porte-cochères.  Stylistically, Hancock Park is a revival town with a focus the following revival styles: Tudor, English, Spanish Colonial, Mediterranean, Monterey, and American Colonial.  Above, I have highlighted the English Revival, Mediterranean Revival, and porte-cochères.

Balboa Highlands

Eichler HomesEichler HomesEichler HomesEichler HomesEichler HomesEichler HomesEichler HomesEichler HomesEichler HomesEichler HomesEichler homeEichler Home

Often when we talk about a building, we talk about the architect.  This is not the case for the homes of the Balboa Highlands, which are most often referred to as “that Eichler tract in the Valley.”

A. Quincy Jones, Frederick Emmons, and Claude Oakland designed these modern, post-and-beam, indoor/outdoor homes.  The developer, Joseph Eichler, is acknowledged as the brains behind this operation because of his beloved developments up and down the state.  This development was completed in 1964 and gained Historical Preservation Overlay Zone status in 2010.

There are 3 types of houses in this development.  To the layman, we might call them the flat houses, the pentagonal houses, and the ones with the carports.  Since I’m no architectural historian, I’ll leave it to the layman.

 

 

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