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Vote Set on Fate of Elks Lodge

November 28, 1985|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

The Glendale City Council is expected to act Tuesday on a recommendation to delete the 67-year-old Elks Lodge from a list of sites deemed worthy of preservation. That could pave the way for demolition of the building.

If the council approves the recommendation, it will be the first time a property owner has been given permission to destroy a landmark under the city's historic-preservation ordinance, which was adopted in July.

Building Hard to Maintain

Despite opposition from the private Glendale Historical Society, the city's Historic Preservation Commission last week recommended that the lodge be deleted from the preservation list. The commission said Elks members will suffer financially if they aren't allowed to demolish the badly deteriorated building.

Many members of the Elks say they would like to preserve the lodge, which is one of the largest in the nation. But the organization's leaders say dwindling membership and rising costs have made the building impractical to maintain. Paul Wright, the lodge's exalted ruler, appeared before the commission last week to ask that the city drop the historic designation.

Greta Reed, chairwoman of the historical society's Preservation Task Force, told the commission that the lodge should be saved. She said the building, which opened in 1918, is one of the few remaining examples of the architecture of Alfred Priest, who also designed the original Tuesday Afternoon Club. That building was included on a list of historical sites but was demolished in 1977, before the city adopted its preservation ordinance.

Asked by commission members if she believes renovation of the Elks' building is feasible, Reed said, "I know it is in bad condition, but it can be restored. I've seen buildings in worse condition that were preserved."

But Wright argued that the club cannot afford the renovation, which he estimated would cost $1 million or more. He said the club wants to demolish the building, sell part of the site and use the money to build a smaller lodge.

The unanimous recommendation included the vote of Commission President Vonnie Rossman, who is also a member of the historical society. Rossman said all five commissioners agreed that prohibiting the Elks from demolishing the building "would cause a hardship which interferes with the rights of private property."

She added: "The building itself is in very, very bad condition."

Sale Fell Through

Developers Dorn-Platz of Glendale last year agreed to buy the lodge for $2.5 million. The sale fell through last summer after the city designated the building a historic site.

Hamo Rostamian, a spokesman for Dorn-Platz, said his firm would again consider purchasing the site if the historic designation is dropped. Wright said other developers also have expressed interest.

Reed said the historical society on Tuesday will urge the City Council to preserve the building.

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