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The Conservancy Receives Award from U.S. Green Building Council

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The Conservancy’s Preservation Resource Center has achieved yet another award; this time from the U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles chapter at its 13th Annual Green Gala on November 30.  Each year, the Sustainable Innovation Awards honor premier projects that have envisioned, designed and built with exceptional achievement and innovation. “The awards recognize project teams that go above and beyond standard practices and use innovative strategies that can be used as a model for future sustainable design and construction,” state awards co-chairs Amelia Feichtner and Patti Harburg-Petrich. “Now more than ever, creative and innovative strategies are essential to the success and sustainability of our diverse communities.” 

The Preservation Resource Center was recognized under the category “Materials and Resources,” which sounds obscure but reflects its achievement as a LEED Gold Certified adaptive reuse of a historic structure to serve a new purpose in the community.  This was achieved with great attention to detail: maintaining over 95.7% of the existing structural elements, recycling 91.5% of the construction waste, incorporating energy and space-saving features as well as maintenance with sustainable products. The surrounding landscape was planted with drought resistant, native plants to take advantage of the city’s climate, drought concerns, and limiting the need for mowing and watering.  

The projects were also judged on impact on the community and the extent to which team collaboration made success possible.  The Resource Center has welcomed over 3000 residents and visitors in its first 18 months of operation and could not have been achieved without the sustained collaboration of many individuals and organizations over the 14 years’ effort! 

The Sustainable Innovation Awards offer prestige and affirmation of your project ‘s commitment to a sustainable built environment. Unlike standardized rating systems, the Sustainable Innovation Awards evaluate merit based upon sustainable strategies that demonstrate exemplary performance by going above and beyond LEED credit achievement.

Posted in Preservation Resource Center |

December Newsletter Now Available

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The latest Conservancy newsletter is now available online, as well as past editions. Our newsletter covers upcoming preservation events, preservation issues, features on the people and places of historic Santa Monica and much more.

In the current edition:

  • Annual Holiday Party
  • Call for Nominations: 2018 Preservation Awards
  • City Hall Mural Controversy
  • Conservancy Receives Fifth Award
  • Conservancy Youth Program Awarded Grant
  • KCK Architects Wins California Preservation Award
  • and more news and events!

Download the December 2017 Newsletter or view past issues here.

Our newsletter is published four times per year. Conservancy members receive a copy of each new issue in the mail. If you’d like to become a member, please join today!

Posted in Santa Monica Conservancy Newsletter |

Docents Needed at Shotgun House

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The Shotgun House offers docents the rare opportunity to actively engage visitors in looking at and talking about the house and its rotating exhibits. Docents create interactive conversations that take visitors back to life in Santa Monica in the 1900s while teaching them about the importance of historic preservation.

Photo: FormLA

If you’re fascinated by life in the past, have a passion for preserving our built environment and enjoy informal give-and-take dialogues about architecture, history and other big ideas with visitors from all over the world, this is your chance. Docent applications may be found online  and at the Shotgun House.

Training will begin in 2018 and upon completion, docents will be assigned two shifts per month of three hours each on Wednesdays, Saturdays and/or Sundays from 11 am to 2 pm.

Posted in Shotgun House | Tagged , |

Call for Nominations: 2018 Preservation Awards

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Every year the Conservancy celebrates the preservation of Santa Monica’s architectural and cultural heritage by honoring exemplary projects and contributions.

Since 2004, award-winning projects have included residences, commercial and institutional buildings, from small to large, ranging from restoration, renovation, rehabilitation, and adaptive reuse to contemporary additions to historic buildings and homes. Awards are also presented to individuals for their stewardship of historic properties as well as for community service contributions as volunteers and advocates of preservation.

The awards presentation will be held at the Conservancy’s 2018 Annual Meeting. Don’t miss this spectacular event as we celebrate, recognize, and are inspired by the people and the projects that bring preservation to life in Santa Monica. A complete history of the Preservation Awards can be found here.

Nominate a person, structure or group for a 2018 Award! Send an email to by January 31 and include:

  1. A brief description of the individual, organization or project, and why you believe it warrants an award. A specific award category can be included in your proposal, but is not mandatory.
  2. Your contact information (name, address, phone number).
  3. A photo of the site if possible.

2424 Fourth Street, Brecht House, Horation West Court. Photos courtesy of DUB Architect and Brian Thomas Jones.

Past winners: Horatio West Court, John and Anna George House, and Brecht House. Photos courtesy of DUB Studios and Brian Thomas Jones.


Preservation Awards Guidelines:

You don’t need to specify what category you think fits your nomination, but the definitions below may be helpful:

Restoration: work to bring a building back to its historically authentic condition.

Rehabilitation: a broad term meaning bringing a historic resource back into service.

Renovation: includes remodeling and renewing, and can include the addition of contemporary design elements to a historic structure.

Adaptive Reuse: the adaptation of a historic structure to a new use, ideally with minimal impact on the structure’s character-defining features.

Stewardship: long-term care and maintenance of a historic building or place.

Volunteer and Service: recognition for outstanding contributions by individuals and groups in preservation efforts with the Santa Monica Conservancy.

President’s Award:  recognition for an outstanding contribution by an individual or group that exemplifies excellence in commitment to preservation, stewardship, and/or promoting Santa Monica’s history.

David G. Cameron Preservation Award: an exceptional honor, named in memory of one of Santa Monica’s pre-eminent preservationists, presented only when the occasion merits – “to individuals or organizations in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments in preserving Santa Monica’s unique heritage, and for promoting the value of historic preservation in the City.”

Posted in Preservation Awards | Tagged |

The Latest on the Civic Auditorium and Sports Field

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At the June 27 City Council Meeting, Council voted unanimously to support moving forward on the “temporary” multipurpose sports field in place of the surface parking lot on the Civic Center site and to move forward with the Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a development team to reimagine, renovate and operate the Civic Auditorium. The motion included a parking study intended to plan for the loss of parking resulting from the addition of the field and an effort to work with current users of the parking, including the Courthouse, and possibly the Coastal Commission to develop alternatives to provide replacement parking as needed. Moving forward with plans for additional field space at Memorial Park was also included.

We are delighted to see the commitment to issue an RFP for the Civic Auditorium reconfirmed. However, the one concern that was not resolved was the softball field overlay proposed in the staff report, pending additional conversations with the school district.

The request to add a softball field overlay to the “temporary” multipurpose sports field at the Civic causes great concern because of its impacts on the landmark Civic Auditorium, which is still without a plan for rehabilitation more than a year after the Civic Working Group made its report to Council. The multipurpose sports field as defined in the 2005 Civic Center specific plan was intended for sports like soccer that are played on rectangular fields. The softball overlay will add 25% to the area required for the sports fields, moving the boundaries of the field very close to the Auditorium, and includes fencing and containment netting 26 feet high, as well as chain-link protected dugouts and bullpens. The visual impact of such a field on the Landmark structure seems totally inappropriate, and it would place additional limitations on the space available for shared use by a revitalized Civic Auditorium.

It seemed clear that all council members saw the placement of the softball addition to the temporary field at the civic, even temporarily, as a negative impact, but they supported further conversations with the district regarding the need and district funding of the additional expense. The Conservancy will remain concerned about the potential negative impact on the future of the Civic Auditorium until a different site is found for the softball field.

Posted in Preservation Alerts | Tagged |

The Santa Monica Conservancy Receives Award from Los Angeles Business Council

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The Santa Monica Conservancy’s Preservation Resource Center received one of two Preservation Awards presented at the 47th Annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards, hosted by the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC) on June 22, 2017, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The ceremony honored the Conservancy for its role in saving and rehabilitating a late 1890s Shotgun House, which now serves as a LEED Gold certified educational center and a model of adaptive reuse for the community. The City of Santa Monica, Fonda-Bonardi and Hohman Architects, Historic Resources Group, Minardos Group and FormLA Landscaping were also recognized for the Shotgun House project.

The Conservancy’s Preservation Resource Center was one of 45 winning projects selected from a competitive pool of over 200 projects, ranging from civic buildings and transportation hubs to commercial office and creative retail. Winners were selected by a jury panel representing a cross-section of industry experts, including representatives from top architectural firms, the City of Los Angeles, developers and engineers.

“The honored projects tonight provide a window into the values we hold dear and provide a path forward in how we all can improve our quality of life through beauty, function, and public benefit in one of America’s most dynamic cities,” noted Kai-Uwe Bergmann of the visionary architectural firm BIG, whose projects include Google’s California headquarters.

A full list of honorees as well as pictures of the winning projects is available at

Posted in Preservation Resource Center |

June 2017 Newsletter Now Available

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The latest Conservancy newsletter is now available online, as well as past editions. Our newsletter covers upcoming preservation events, preservation issues, features on the people and places of historic Santa Monica and much more.

In the current edition:

  • Upcoming Annual Salon at a Landmark of the Future
  • 2017 Preservation Awards
  • Home Savings & Loan Building Landmarked
  • New Conservancy Board Members
  • Students Tour the Shotgun House & “Inkwell”
  • 11th Street Bungalow Historic District Proposed
  • Santa Monica History Buff Quiz
  • More News, Reports, and Event Listings

Download the June 2017 Newsletter and Preservation Awards or view past issues here.

Our newsletter is published four times per year. Conservancy members receive a copy of each new issue in the mail. If you’d like to become a member, please join today!

Posted in Santa Monica Conservancy Newsletter |

The Santa Monica Conservancy Announces 2017 Preservation Awards

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The Santa Monica Conservancy recognized eight exemplary contributions to the preservation of Santa Monica’s architectural and cultural heritage by honoring individuals, building owners and architectural firms at its recent Annual Meeting.

This year, for the first time since 2010, the Conservancy presented its David G. Cameron Award. Cameron was instrumental in the establishment of the City’s first Landmarks Ordinance and a passionate advocate for the preservation of its heritage.

David G. Cameron Award: Alison Rose Jefferson, PhD

For over a decade, Jefferson has researched the history of African-Americans in Santa Monica and has educated the public on this subject, creating many projects and activities recognizing this history. These include her work on designating the Phillips Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church at 4th and Bay Streets as a Santa Monica Landmark and authorship of the text on the monument at the “Inkwell,” the historical Jim Crow era, African-American beach site adjacent to the Casa del Mar which remained an important gathering place long after racial restrictions at public beaches were abandoned in 1927. Her involvement with Heal the Bay, Black surfing organizations, the Conservancy and others in various programs and events continues to share more diverse stories about our heritage with younger and broader audiences.


President’s Award: Santa Monica Public Library

Photo credit Santa Monica Public Library.

Recognized for their great historic and artistic value, the murals were restored and re-installed at the new Main Library in 2005. The Santa Monica Public Library played a key role in facilitating their return and restoration. Created in 1934-35 for our former Carnegie Library, these murals were the precursor of many other artworks placed in public buildings under Federal patronage during the Depression. Stanton Macdonald-Wright, an internationally acclaimed artist, created this mural cycle on wood panels, depicting technology and imagination in human development. When the library was demolished in the 1960s to make way for a new library building, the panels were removed and stored at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Several decades later, City leaders, library staff and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art initiated efforts to retrieve the murals for incorporation into our new modern library. The mural paintings have been restored and an informative website has been created to enable the public to once again experience Macdonald-Wright’s creative legacy.


Stewardship Award: City of Santa Monica, Department of Public Works

Photo credit City of Santa Monica.

The California Incline is significant as a contributing element to Palisades Park, a Santa Monica Landmark. The original connector between the bluffs of Linda Vista Park (now Palisades Park) and the beach was a dirt trail for horses and wagons. Paved over and made into an automobile roadway in the 1930s, the California Incline replacement project that was completed in 2016 maintains the historic pathway linking the city with the coastline. With pedestrian and bicycle use enhancements, the railing and the neon sign continue to be emblems from the past.


Stewardship Award: Shugi and Alexander Cassini

For over 20 years, this Mediterranean Revival style house at 2433 2nd Street was the principal residence of nationally-famed cosmetics entrepreneur Merle Norman. Designed by architect Ellis Martin in 1936, it features original wood windows, tiled patios, and a sweeping interior staircase. It also has some Streamline Moderne elements including original decorative tiling and fixtures in the bathrooms as well as a beautiful mirrored dressing room. The Cassinis have been stewards of the property, incorporating new design elements that reflect their own sense of style. Additionally, they have been generous in opening their home for Conservancy events, sharing its beauty and historic significance.


Restoration and Renovation Award: Anitra and Alan Escovitz

Photo credit deasy/penner & partners.

This Landmark Aeroplane Bungalow at 315 Tenth Street was originally built in 1912. By 2013, when Alan and Anitra Escovitz purchased the property, it was in great need of structural and infrastructure upgrades. They spent one year restoring the main rooms, replicating original moldings, restoring the front door, and recreating the wood dining buffet. A new back porch was added that replicates the depth, materials and design of the original front porch. This couple is an inspiring example of devotion to Craftsman homes and the willingness to do what it takes for a house to live on.


Rehabilitation Award: 1012 Second Street, LLC, Howard Laks Architects, and Chattel Inc.

Photo credit 1012 Second St, LLC and Howard Laks.

This project is the first to be completed taking advantage of modifications to the city’s development standards for projects on parcels involving designated landmarks. These modifications made possible the creation of three additional living units without exceeding the by-right floor area and volume permitted on the site and preserving an important landmark structure from the City’s earliest residential development.


Rehabilitation Award: Lighthouse Investments, LLC, and Paligroup Management, LLC

Photo credit Palihouse Santa Monica.

The stylish and sophisticated Embassy Hotel Apartments, now named Palihouse, was designed by architect Arthur E. Harvey and built by Luther Mayo in 1927 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The site has been determined to be eligible for National Register of Historic Places both individually and as a contributor to a potential historic thematic district of Elegant Apartments in the north of Wilshire neighborhood. The current owners have conserved and refurbished the building throughout. Recognized as a Santa Monica Landmark in 2003, the original windows, decorative ceilings, patterned tile work, and outdoor patio paving have been preserved.


Outstanding Volunteer Service Award: Kay Pattison, Thomasine Rogas, and Rita Schneir

The Downtown Walking Tour was the Conservancy’s first weekly tour program, founded in 2007 by Carol Lemlein with extensive mentoring by Ruthann Lehrer and the research assistance of several volunteers. These three stalwart docents from the original 2007 group have served continuously for 10 years.

Posted in Preservation Awards |

Home Savings is Designated!

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Nearly four years after it was nominated by the Landmarks Commission, the former Home Savings building at 26th and Wilshire, and the parcel on which it is located, have been designated as a landmark by the City Council.

The history of the nomination has been fraught with controversy.  The Landmarks Commission voted 6–0 (with one abstention) to designate the property in December 2013.  The owner appealed, but agreed to delay the hearing until the Zoning Ordinance Update was completed and the development potential with and without designation was determined. When the matter finally came before the Council in November 2016, a recent court decision had placed Santa Monica’s process of allowing proactive designation by the Commission in question. Staff recommended sending the matter back to the Commission to be heard by the four members appointed since the original nomination.

Photo: Historic Resources Group

A public hearing was conducted in February, and the Commission voted 3-1 in favor of designation, resulting in a “technical denial” since Commission rules require approval by four of the seven commissioners. The Conservancy appealed this decision, on the grounds that there was overwhelming evidence that the structure met five of the six criteria for designation, as supported by the Staff Report, Consultants’ Reports from 2013 and 2017, as well as letters from noted Millard Sheets expert Adam Arenson and architectural historians Alan Hess and Margarita Jerebek.

At the Council hearing, Conservancy representatives and numerous local residents wrote letters and/or testified in favor of the designation, with only the owner’s attorney speaking in opposition to the appeal. Council voted 6-1 to designate both the structure and the parcel on which it is located.

Completed in 1970, Santa Monica’s Home Savings is the 25th of a group of approximately 40 branch banks resulting from the unique collaboration of financier Howard Ahmanson and artist Millard Sheets.  Sheets was an eminent artist based in Claremont, acclaimed for his watercolors as well as for his leadership in arts education, promoting art programs in the region. He chaired the Scripps College Art Department (1932-55) and the Otis Art Institute (1953-1960), directed the art program at the L.A. County Fair (1931-1957), helped hire artists for the Federal Art Project, and mentored many renowned artists.

Ahmanson commissioned Millard Sheets, beginning in the 1950s, to create a visual identity for Home Savings that would convey an image of security and financial stability, and that would incorporate decorative artworks with imagery relating to the local community in which each building was sited.  The monumental geometric masses, clad in travertine marble with gold trim, incorporating mosaics and sculpture and stained glass, became the signature style of the Home Savings branches.  Sheets was given complete artistic freedom in designing these buildings with his collaborators in the Sheets Design Studio.

The Santa Monica Home Savings design had two significant innovations– the site plan and the scale of the mural.  The building is placed at a 45 degree angle to the corner, set back so that two wings extend outward to embrace an open plaza, with a sculptural focal point.  Sheets liked this so well that he repeated it in Anaheim.  The mosaic mural is larger than typical for Sheets’ work, and is scaled for the monumental architectural forms and its setback from the corner.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , |

The Santa Monica Conservancy Receives LA Conservancy Award

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The Santa Monica Conservancy will be recognized by the Los Angeles Conservancy with a Preservation Award at its 36th Annual Preservation Award luncheon at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel on May 3. The Conservancy’s rehabilitation of the Shotgun House was cited as a “fantastic example of grassroots advocacy and reuse for educational purposes” by Adrian Scott Fine, Director ofAdvocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy.

This is the third award the Conservancy has received for our shotgun house rehabilitation, demonstrating outstanding achievement in historic preservation, adding to recent awards given by the California Preservation Foundation and the Office of the Governor.

“It is a testament to the perseverance and dedication shown by the community and very committed Conservancy volunteers in making this project a reality and hopefully, an inspiration for others to find creative and sustainable ways to use our historic structures,” said president Carol Lemlein.

The Los Angeles Conservancy’s Preservation Awards are selected by an independent jury of distinguished architects, preservation professionals, and business and community leaders. This year 22 applications were received and 8 were selected for awards.

Posted in Preservation Resource Center, Santa Monica Conservancy | Tagged |

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