211 Alta Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90402

The Palama

Known As: 211 Alta Ave
Architect: W.R. Covington
Built: 1922
Designated: May 8, 2002

Located at 211 Alta, the garden court was built in 1922on a 21,114 square foot lot. Property records show the property as 12 units and a two-story garage, totaling 6,720 square feet, each with its own individually-hued door set in a “U” around a broad swath of lawn. The bungalows are built around a centrally landscaped courtyard that was typical of the style of multi-family construction in Southern California in the 1920s and ‘30s.

All units show a mixture of Colonial and Craftsman Styles. Character-defining features are elements which define the bungalow style: broad eaves with exposed rafter tails, decorative brackets at the porch roofs and gable ends, verge boards, porch pergolas, corner boards, wood lap siding, and double-hung sash windows with flat wood surrounds.

In 2000, the owner of the property applied for a permit to demolish the property, which brought the Palama to the attention of the landmarks committee.  The bungalow court originated with the 1908 construction of St. Francis Court in Pasadena as an innovative solution to high density housing, allowing residents the amenities of a single family dwelling. Ironically, in 2001, a new owner submitted a petition went before the city to convert parts of the Palama into a single family property. The applicant has submitted a request to construct an enclosed hallway between the two front units to create a larger building for use as the main residence on the property.

The Landmarks commission was concerned that the “introduction of this addition onto the east and west front units destroys the historic relationship between the site and the other bungalow units. Further, the removal of character-defining features along the primary elevation of each unit, such as lap siding; double-hung sash windows with flat wood surrounds; and possibly roofing elements, would impact the historic character of these structures and the courtyard overall.”

The commission concluded that “Incorporating the connector addition as proposed may affect the property’s current Landmark designation.” Historic preservationist Theresa Grimes, a nationally recognized preservation consultant, was called in. She demonstrated to the Commission that the project satisfied the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Properties, which is a set of design and treatment guidelines established under federal law.

Source:

  1. Santa Monica Landmarks. “The Palama, 1922.”