WeHo Will Consider Designating Lexington Ave. Houses as Cultural Resources

Craftsman style houses on Lexington Avenue in West Hollywood.
Craftsman style houses on Lexington Avenue in West Hollywood.

West Hollywood will survey Craftsman-style houses on Lexington Avenue on the city’s Eastside to determine if any of them warrants designation as a cultural resource.

John Duran
John Duran

The City Council tonight approved the survey, proposed by Councilmember John Duran. It will include houses on Lexington between Genesee and Curson avenues.

A building designated as a cultural or historic resource cannot be demolished unless its owner can prove that keeping it as it is will cause him financial hardship. Any proposed alterations to such buildings must be reviewed by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Craftsman-style homes typically have a low-pitched roof, wide front porches, exposed beams and natural looking materials and earthy colors. According to a report prepared for the council, there currently, there are 16 Craftsman structures designated citywide. Five are in the city’s Craftsman District, an historic district on North Hancock Avenue and North Palm Avenue. Eight are part of the Old Sherman thematic grouping, which covers the area once occupied by the Town of Sherman.

West Hollywood conducted a citywide historic resource survey in 1986 that documented 118 potential resources. A 2008 survey of buildings in multifamily zoning districts turned up 61 additional properties eligible for designation as cultural resources. This year the city will conduct a survey of a survey of commercial buildings. The survey approved tonight will be the city’s first of single family dwellings in residential zoning districts designated for single- family or two-unit low density dwellings.

  1. Thank you to Councilmember Duran for placing Item 2.S on the Consent Calendar on Jan 19th. The City recently approved a demolition permit for a 1919 Craftsman at 7724 Lexington that was demolished this week! This loss along with the looming demolition of 7701 has lit a fire under residents who don’t want our neighborhood destroyed. 7701 should not be demolished to be replaced by 2, two story 3 bedroom duplexes similar to what is being erected around our borders in Los Angeles, The existing tenant & his family living there want to remain – It’s a wonderful home & stands proudly on the corner as a welcoming monument to our history.
    The few remaining group of Craftsmans, contribute to making one of the few disappearing Eastside neighborhoods charming and desirable to future homeowners. Some are over 100 Years old and have never been inventoried or surveyed by the City,
    We also feel the Community Development Director has too much authority to issue & approve Development Permits for 4 units or less and should be required to mail notices to nearby residents before they accept & approve applications. Once they are complete (such as 7724) its too late for us to respond. We hope the Council considers amending the City’s Municipal Code.
    These Craftsmans are part of the fabric of our Neighborhood and are not currently protected against demolition. We have also requested a temporary hold on any future development requests on these homes until this is resolved. This action to support this historic survey, will help preserve the integrity of our unique Eastside Neighborhood of which we are very proud and stand united to protect.

  2. I own a beautiful Craftsman bungalow on “Poinsettia Circle” (the Poinsettia Place and Poinsettia Drive loop). There are but a true few of us left. It’s sad. Especially considering our connection to old Hollywood. Our neighborhod was literally built to support the housing needs for the Pickfair Studios. All of the Craftsman properties scattered about –not just the Spaulding Squares of WeHo — should be supoorted and encouraged to embrace their historic and significant value to our community.

  3. It’s good that most of these bungalows are in tact. They have historical value, are charming and should be preserved. Once designated, the owners will be eligible to enter into a Mills Act contract with the City that requires the exterior to be maintained in its original condition in exchange for reduced property taxes. It will help property values to be part of designated cluster like Spaulding Square.

    The Old Sherman bungalows where I live were nearly wiped out by developers. We have saved a few, fortunately, to remind us of the original town of Sherman. My bungalow was built in 1905. Others in the area were built within a few years either way. The quasi-Victorian bungalow that is part of the San Vicente Inn cluster was built in something like 1899. It’s very important to do the surveys and prepare the designations before they are destroyed by insensitive development.

  4. For those interested in more historical background, this neighborhood was once part of a larger parcel called “Cahuenga,” based on County of LA records. Spaulding Square to our north was part of Cahuenga as well. Two subdivision tracts for the area between Gardner and Genesee, north of SM and south of Fountain, were filed with the county in 1910 and 1913. These subdivisions were promoted as idyllic suburban neighborhoods, where families could own a house with a garden at an affordable price, and easily access the nearby trolley system at Fountain Ave/Genesee or Gardner street. How convenient it must have been to hop on the trolley to jobs at the budding, nearby Hollywood studios or to beach destinations!

    These bungalows are an important part of the cultural history of our residential neighborhood, and I think it’s worth protecting them against demolition. I applaud the City Council for approving the historic survey, which is a critical first step.

    Finally, just wanted to add that I agree with the comment posted about property values increasing for houses in a designated historic district. Studies of property sales show that price appreciation for homes in historic districts is higher than similar homes outside historic districts. Properties tend to be improved rather than neglected and the neighborhood is less vulnerable to unregulated real estate speculation. For more information, see http://www.weho.org/city-hall/city-departments/community-development/current-and-historic-preservation-planning/historic-preservation

  5. Homes in the photo are Craftsman colonial revival style built in 1919. The house across from them at 7724 Lexington Avenue was one of a grouping in this style that had been fully renovated by a prior owner. A few years ago, it was lost in foreclosure, and the new owners allowed the property and swimming pool to fall into disrepair, and didn’t live in the house. Most recently the City staff issued a demolition permit for the 7724 property, and today workers are there demolishing it.

    The Craftsman colonial revival and other Craftsman style bungalows on Lexington Avenue and vicinity, were built during the Arts & Crafts period, in the early 20th century- as far back as 1910, when our subdivision was first developed.

    I agree with comments about Hampton, Gardner and Genesee. There are Craftsman houses on these streets that were listed as potential cultural resources from past City surveys which were “windshield” surveys without a detailed inventory, as I understand. However, R1 single-family zoned portions of Lexington and Norton Avenues were not included in past surveys. Maybe the City staff or Historic Preservation Commission will recommend as part of this process for a more comprehensive inventory of the vicinity around the new survey area, and for a historic district to be designated that includes contributing Craftsman bungalows in the original subdivision tracts.

  6. Homes over 100 years old??!!?! Over 104 years old? Hampton has a fine grouping of homes West of Gardner as does Gardner South of Fountain.

  7. FINALLY!!!! I think this is the first positive response to Preservation in West Hollywood I have seen – so good to see!

  8. As I mentioned in my comments at the council meeting last night, while I think doing a historic survey of not only the houses on Lexington is a good idea, but could be done on the Eastside as a whole (and hopefully to include my charming Bungalows on Genesee), I am concerned about limitations that might be forced upon property owners. I’d rather see the City take a carrot approach and offer incentives to property owners, rather than the stick approach by taking away property rights…

  9. They shouldn’t limit it to Lexington. There is a craftsman on Hampton also. The whole neighborhood has them sprinkled about. They should go through the whole neighborhood again.

  10. I’d say this is a worthy segment. Lot of the craftsmens are still in tact. Deeming it historical will increase home values in this area too. They could even get a street or area name designation like Bungalow Heaven in Pasadena, etc.

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