About Us

About the SM Conservancy

The Santa Monica Conservancy is the only local, non-governmental organization solely focused on the important mission of preservation.  We carry our that mission by:

  • raising community awareness of our architectural heritage through tours, lectures and other educational events;
  • working closely with residents concerned about the loss of our special places to develop widespread support for their preservation;
  • directly advocating for saving buildings that connect us more closely to our community’s heritage; and
  • encouraging the City to improve incentives for preservation and make the regulatory processes for landmarking and adaptive reuse easier and more attractive to property owners.

The Santa Monica Conservancy accomplished much since its founding in 2002.  We have advocated for landmark status for important structures including among others, the Embassy Hotel Apartments, the Builder’s Exchange and Phillips Chapel.

We formed support organizations to save the last intact shotgun house in Santa Monica and, more recently, to rally public support for transformation of the historic Marion Davies estate into the Annenberg Community Beach House.

We developed and staff the weekly Downtown Walking Tour and the popular docent program at the Annenberg Community Beach House.  We have offered tours of La Mesa Drive, Adelaide Drive and the Third Street Historic District as well as lectures and workshops of preservation topics. Additionally, the Conservancy created  a docent-led tour of Palisades Park and its Ocean Avenue neighborhood.

We advocated for the inclusion of preservation guidelines in the downtown redevelopment  plan and convinced the City of Santa Monica to recognize preservation as an essential tool for conserving the character of the community in the Land Use and Circulation Element.

We competed successfully to bring the California Preservation Conference to Santa Monica in 2011.  The conference offered unparalleled educational programs and tours that highlighted the heritage tourism opportunities in our city to a statewide audience.

Our Mission

The Santa Monica Conservancy works to promote widespread understanding and appreciation of the cultural, social, economic and environmental benefits of historic preservation. Through educational programs, assistance and advocacy, the Conservancy reinforces the importance of preserving the historic resources of Santa Monica’s unique urban landscape.

The Santa Monica Conservancy envisions a community in which:

  • community members can identify historic places and architecturally significant structures in neighborhoods and know that they are not frozen in time, but are adaptable, with sensitive modification, to changing needs;
  • school children learn about the city’s architectural heritage and historic places and why they are important to preserve;
  • public officials support enactment and implementation of effective preservation incentives;
  • owners know whether their property has potential historic value, appreciate its special attributes, understand that interior as well as appropriate exterior modification is possible even for landmarked structures, and are aware of incentives available to landmark owners. A property’s potential historic significance is known to the owner well in advance of contemplating remodel, and demolition requests for such properties are rare;
  • realtors and developers highlight attributes that make a property a potential landmark in marketing, have working knowledge of the federal, state and local tax and fee incentives that are associated with landmarked structures, and understand that historic places retain their value and help to maintain desirable neighborhood character;
  • architects include successful adaptive reuse projects in their portfolios, help clients understand the environmental and other benefits of preservation and take advantage of incentives that encourage adaptive reuse to give properties that are potentially landmark worthy contemporary relevance and utility; and
  • visitors (regional, national and international), cite Santa Monica’s historically significant structures and places, our gracious neighborhoods and parks, our shopping streets and our historic hotels and pier as highlights of their stay and a reason for return.