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Panel Begins Task of Selecting Historic Sites to Be Preserved

September 05, 1985|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Looking through a narrow bay window atop a decaying Victorian-style house, members of the newly formed Glendale Historic Preservation Commission pointed out Wednesday that a founding father of the city once sat there.

"It's fascinating," Commissioner Jo Sayer Gudel said as she peered out the lofty alcove in the 97-year-old house originally owned by E. D. Goode, leader of the petition drive that resulted in the city's incorporation in 1906.

The recalling of the house's past may be crucial to its future.

Until a few weeks ago, a developer planned to bulldoze the house, believed to be the last remaining example of Queen Anne/Eastlake architecture on its original site in the city. The city blocked the plans last May when it placed a moratorium on demolition of historic sites and last month adopted a historic preservation ordinance.

1st Step in Process

The five-member preservation commission formed by the ordinance is charged with determining which sites should be protected by the city. Wednesday's visit to the Goode house and two dozen other sites in town was a first step in that decision-making process.

Commissioners noted that, although years of neglect have taken a toll, the basic architecture remains unchanged at the Goode house, situated at 119 N. Cedar St. Ceilings are collapsing and the front porch is sagging, but French doors, stained-glass windows and ornate fish-scale sidings are intact.

Recommendations by the commission to preserve certain sites, if approved by the City Council, could prohibit property owners from demolishing or altering landmarks and could require owners to maintain such sites in good condition. The city has not determined who should bear the cost of preservation; commissioners noted that restoration of the Goode house, for example, could cost $200,000.

"We have a real charge to carry out," said Vonnie Rossman, who was elected president of the five-member commission at its organizational meeting last week. "Who is going to maintain all of these things?" she asked. "It would be very easy for us to say, 'Yes, it should be saved.' But how?"

She called the task before the commission "challenging but exciting."

Rossman, a member of the Glendale Historical Society, said her group and others had worked for 20 years for such an ordinance, which creates the first new commission in the city in 40 years.

Schedule for Meetings

Regular meetings of the commission will be conducted at 9 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of every month in the management services conference room at City Hall, 613 E. Broadway. The first meeting will be Sept. 26.

The city in 1977 adopted a historic preservation element of its general plan listing 33 buildings and sites considered worthy of preservation because of their historic significance. But, until an ordinance was adopted, the city had no power to preserve such sites.

Several have been destroyed, including the former Egyptian Village Cafe on Brand Boulevard, torn down last year for a redevelopment project.

Although demolition of the Goode house has been blocked temporarily, the owner is still seeking to sell and possibly demolish the property.

Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg said several property owners who lobbied years ago for designation of their buildings as historic landmarks in the general plan are now seeking a reversal because of restrictions imposed by the new law. Among those properties is the 69-year-old Elks Lodge, whose owners last month filed the first formal request with the city to withdraw a building from the historical designation.

Disagreement Among Elks

Dan Molinari, chairman of the Elks board of trustees, said that, although the club has not voted on what it wants to do with its lodge, it does want to remove the aging brick structure from the city's control. He acknowledged that the building is too large for the organization's declining membership but said he would like to see the lodge preserved.

Others in the club, however, say the building is outmoded and in need of expensive repairs. The building committee has recommended that the lodge be demolished and part of the land sold to raise funds for a new lodge.

The commission is expected to determine if the historical significance of the lodge building outweighs the economic hardships on the Elks. Molinari said membership in the club has steadily declined, from a peak of 2,000 to about 750.

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