Preservation Resources

Glossary of Terms

Adaptive re-use – The process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was build or designed for. Adaptive re-use is a way to recycle older buildings for contemporary needs and to reclaim older neighborhoods.

Art Deco – Launched at the Exposition of Decorative and Industrial Art in Paris in 1925, this style sought an architecture that was new and modern. Appearing on new skyscrapers, the building composition became vertical with unbroken lines soaring skyward, often in stepped sequences to a central tower. Art Deco is sometimes called Zigzag Moderne, referring to the stylized geometrical ornament used in great profusion, with angled chevrons, fountain sprays and abstract floral motifs.
Example: Bay Cities Guaranty Building (Clocktower) 

Arts and Crafts – A design movement prevalent c. 1900 that incorporates handmade ways of construction, simplicity, straightforward design, and a relationship with nature. Buildings use natural materials and are designed to blend with natural surroundings. Also called Craftsman.
Example: John W. & Anna George House

Beaux Arts – Popularized by the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, the Beaux Arts style was inspired by the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts and had many stylistic variations. Based upon historical precedents, it took Classical, Renaissance and Baroque traditions as design models. Buildings were composed in three sections like an Italian Renaissance palace: lower ground floor, main mid-section, and embellished top capped by a cornice. This three-part division originated from the base, shaft and capital of a classical column. The style was prevalent in commercial buildings from 1910-1925
Example: Hotel Carmel

California Register -The state’s official list of districts, site, building, structures, and objects that meet state and local criteria for significance.

Churrigueresque – A highly decorative variant of Spanish Revival named for a family of Spanish architects who transformed the Spanish Baroque into a style of exuberant, abundant and dense ornamentation that became very popular in Mexico. This style was launched in the United Stated by architect Bertram Goodhue at the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego in 1915.
Example: Builder’s Exchange

Classical Moderne/Late Moderne – By 1935 renewed interest in Greek architectural elements crept back into modernism. Piers, columns, fluting and other decorative motifs from classical precedents merged with the abstract flat surfaces of Streamline Moderne. This style was used for many public buildings constructed as PWA (Public Works Administration) projects and is also called PWA Moderne.
Example: Grant Building

Classical Revival – This variant of Beaux Arts architecture used Greek and Roman precedents for its design. Buildings were usually symmetrical and columns, pilasters (columns flattened against a wall) and friezes (horizontal bands) were used to organize wall surfaces. The three-part division of the building was typical and decorative treatments were usually subdued rather than highly ornate.
Example: Kress Building 

Designation – Act of identifying historic structures, structures of merit and historic districts subject to regulation in historic preservation ordinances or other local preservation laws.

Early Modern – In the Post World War II period, Streamline Moderne moved into a more abstract style, with an emphasis on geometrical compositions and textural qualities of the building materials.
Example: Woolworth Building

General Plan – A general plan is a set of policies and programs that form a blueprint for physical development throughout the community. It is a long-term document consisting of written text and diagrams that expresses how a community should develop, and is a key tool for influencing the quality of life. The plan is a basis for land use decision making used by policy decision makers such as the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Historic Character – This broad phrase encompasses everything from the overall historical style of a building to its specific character-defining features – those individual architectural elements that convey its historic significance. This phrase refers to physical characteristics as well as feeling and association.

Historic District – A group of buildings united by geography, the history of their development, building type or architectural style that is protected by local ordinance. The group may be contiguous, or noncontiguous in the case of a thematic district. Historic districts may be designated under the Santa Monica Landmarks Ordinance. Structures recognized as contributors to a historic district are eligible for preservation incentives such as the Mills Act.

Historic Preservation Element – A section of a city’s General Plan that describes policies, goals and actions for protecting historic buildings, landmarks and the historic character of a community.

Historic Resource – A particular building, property or place that embodies the history of a city, state or country because of its architectural style, its association with important events or people, and sometimes its location.

Historic Resources Inventory – A database list of buildings surveyed from street by professional historic preservation consultants that ranks their visible architectural value. Some of these buildings may be eligible for local, state or national designation. The purpose of this list is for public agencies to consider potential cultural resources in their planning activities.

Historic Significance – The attributes of a property that make it eligible for local, regional, state or national designation as a historic resource.

Integrity – The authenticity of a property’s historic identity, evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property’s historic or prehistoric period.

Landmark – A historic resource that has been evaluated according to the relevant criteria for landmark designation, and has been approved for regulatory protection by a government agency.

Mills Act – An incentive that provides for a reduction in property taxes for designated historic landmarks as financial compensation for the upkeep, restoration and rehabilitation of the landmark.

National Register of Historic Places – An official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation.

Other Historic Resource – A historic building, property, or place that helps convey the history of Santa Monica due to important events that occurred there or people who may have lived there. This may include some buildings lost due to demolition and other points of historical interest.

Preservation – The retention of all existing historic fabric through conservation, maintenance, and repair. It respects a building’s continuum over time, and through successive occupancies, and the respectful changes and alterations that are made.

Reconstruction – To re-create an historic building that has been damaged or destroyed; to erect a new structure replicating the old using historical, archaeological, and architectural documents.

Rehabilitation – To repair a structure and make it usable again while preserving those portions or features of the property that are historically and culturally significant. For example, rehabilitation might include an updated kitchen while retaining the historic stairwell and fireplaces. This is a good approach for private houses.

Remodel – To change a building without regard to its distinctive features or style. Often involves changing the appearance of a structure by removing or covering original details and substituting new materials and forms.

Renovation – To repair a structure and make it usable again, without attempting to restore its historic appearance or duplicate original construction methods or material.

Restoration – To return a building to its original design and materials from its original period of significance.

Romanesque Revival – Inspired by early medieval European churches and castles, this style was popular in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Massive stone or brick walls with rough textures, round arched windows and doors, and towers characterize this style. Decorative enrichments are worked into the stone or brick walls such as rows of small arches called corbels.
Example: the Keller Block

Secretary of the Interiors Standards for the Treatment of Historic Buildings – Guidelines published by the national Park Service in use throughout the United States, and incorporated into Santa Monica’s local preservation ordinance. It defines four treatment approaches: Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reconstruction, and describes appropriate treatments for each. Covering various building components, the guidelines make recommendations that are useful for building owners, and mandatory for buildings designated as historic as well as using federal tax credits.

Spanish Colonial Revival – Inspired by traditional buildings of Mexico and Spain, this style became very popular in Southern California in the 1920s. It is characterized by stucco wall surfaces, low-pitched terra cotta tile roofs, asymmetrical compositions, use of arches, ornamental wrought iron, and sometimes glazed multi-colored decorative tile-work. The most prevalent historical style found in Santa Monica, since it coincided with our period of growth as a city.
Example: 710 Wilshire BoulevardParkhurst Building

Stabilize – To protect a building from deterioration by making it structurally secure, while maintaining its current form.

Streamline Moderne – Emerging out of late Art Deco in the 1930s, this design emphasized horizontal lines, smooth surfaces, flat roofing, chrome hardware, rounded edges, and subdued colors.
Example: Barnum HallEl Miro TheaterShangri-La Hotel

Structure of Merit – A building, property, or structure officially designated by the City of Santa Monica Landmarks Commission which contributes to the understanding of the historical, cultural, or architectural heritage of Santa Monica, but does not rise to the level of an individual landmark.

Vernacular – Refers to the simple utilitarian buildings that were erected in the city’s earliest years, typically one-story buildings devoid of ornament or architectural embellishments. Made of locally available materials, usually wood or brick, with simple doors and windows, they were direct expressions of their building function without display or pomp.
Example: The Rapp Saloon