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Preservation Week: A Time to Heed the Past : Accent on History : Children's Event, Tours Slated

May 11, 1986|EVELYN De WOLFE

Of particular focus during National Preservation Week, which begins today, is the participation of children, as reflected in the 1986 official preservation poster picturing a child stepping through the doorway of an elegant restored mansion in Mount Vernon, Va.

"Architectural preservation is really in the hands of the children," said Jim Dunham, who heads the American Architectural Preservation Group in Los Angeles, a conglomerate of companies specializing in the marketing of preservation real estate.

Its educational arm, the National Institute for Architectural and Preservation Studies, sponsors seminars and workshops on preservation real estate and is launching a campaign to educate Southern California youths on the merits of good architecture, past and future.

Its first event in celebration of Preservation Week will be an "architectural scavenger hunt" today at its headquarters in the Los Angeles Architectural Preservation Center in a restored Victorian home at 1314 West 25th Place, in the North University Park district.

"The scavenger or treasure hunt is a concept that is being used in other parts of the country," Dunham said.

"Our idea is to confine our hunt to one residential block in our neighborhood, as an experiment that will involve not only the children, but also their parents, and encourage them to search out details--faces on the buildings, decorative moldings, turrets and gingerbread trim.

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"A typical suburban home built within the last 30 years is usually without the enhancing architectural features of a 50-to-100-year-old (home), Dunham said.

"New houses are often designed as cubes of space with no interior detailing, where children are sometimes stacked together in bunk beds until adolescence when, if they're lucky, another room can be added. Very few new houses offer the same square footage as the older house for the same amount of money"

The children's participation program is one of several being sponsored throughout Southern California in observation of Preservation Week.

The American Architectural Preservation Group plans its event as a double-header to increase architectural appreciation among the children and help reduce vandalism, Dunham said.

"In Los Angeles, if an older building is not torn down, it is usually left to deteriorate and often faces an equally unfortunate future when its features become so obliterated by an insensitive rehab that its original design and character are completely lost," Dunham said.

Neighborhood children were briefed last week on what architectural preservation is all about to prepare them for things to watch for in today's hunt. Equipped with pad and pencil, they will go searching for architectural details they like and attempt to draw it. The drawings will be brought to the center and displayed eventually.

Participating children will receive a set of full-color paper Victorian houses to cut out and assemble or a coloring book on architectural styles. The day will conclude with refreshments in the spacious backyards of the adjoining Victorian structures that house the center's offices.

"One of the goals of our center," explained Dunham, "is to eventually explore with the children the multi-ethnic influences on Southern California architecture so that they may distinguish between the authentic and beautiful architecture of the countries from which many of their parents and grandparents immigrated, and the sorry results when those same styles have been superimposed with inappropriate changes."

For those who work diligently year 'round to preserve and save interesting buildings, the revitalization of older structures has inspired them to initiate all kinds of other commemorative programs--walking tours, architectural salvage sales to help support local preservation projects, oral history interviews and restoration of old photographs.

Among other local events, the Los Angeles Conservancy is sponsoring a free public tour today of the Art Deco Wiltern Theatre at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. The docent-guided tours will be given from 2 to 4 p.m.

The Willmore City Heritage Assn. will conduct its House Tour '86 next Sunday, with special emphasis on the historic, five-square-mile Drake Park area of Long Beach.

From noon to 3 p.m., five Victorian homes will be open, with tours starting at Drake Park, 10th and Main streets. Tickets may be obtained as a tax-deductible donation of $6, with proceeds going to the association's annual Willmore Renovation in Progress project, which last year renovated the exterior of a house at 1129 Chestnut Ave.

In keeping with the "Sunday in the Park" theme, craftsmen and vendors will display items recalling the pre-1940s era. Information on group- guided tours may be obtained through Willmore City House Tour 1986, Box 688, Long Beach 90801.

The Carroll Avenue Restoration Foundation joins with the Angelino Heights Community Organization in celebration of the centennial of Angelino Heights and National Preservation Week with several events.

On Friday from 7 to 11 p.m. a Sherlock Holmes mystery event in the Carroll Avenue neighborhood will recreate a bygone era; next Saturday and Sunday, nine homes will be open for the annual home tour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

On Sunday at 1 p.m., the groups will be joined by the Los Angeles Conservancy in staging a Grand Centennial Parade, starting at the old fire station at Belleview Avenue and Boston Street.

Tickets for the home tour are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors and students; cost of the Sherlock Holmes event is $25 a person or $30, including the home tour, and $60 a couple, including two home tour tickets.

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