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Highland Park Group Seeks to Save Old Homes From Wrecker

November 13, 1986|DENISE HAMILTON | Times Staff Writer

A group of Highland Park residents is organizing to preserve two early-1900s California Craftsman homes that a developer wants to tear down and replace with a 10-unit apartment building.

The homes, at 4967 and 4973 Figueroa St., are part of "Professors' Row," a group of dwellings built for Occidental College faculty members, according to residents.

About 30 residents will meet with Los Angeles Councilman Richard Alatorre and the prospective developer, Derek Ma of Monterey Park, to discuss ways in which the homes could be saved from demolition.

"We're hoping that . . . Mr. Ma will see an advantage to keeping the structures as they are. If he choses not to do this, we don't know what we'll do at this point," said Jeanmarie Hance, Alatorre's planning deputy.

Residents Seek Historical Designation

Residents said they would like to see their entire street designated a "historical overlay" zone, not unlike Heritage Square or Carroll Avenue in Northeast Los Angeles. To do so, they must first submit to the city's Cultural Heritage Commission a complete history of the homes, their architectural significance and photos.

If the commission decides to consider the designation, it can ask the city's Department of Building and Safety to issue a 60-day stop-work order that would prohibit the developer from proceeding with demolition and construction, according to commission spokeswoman Nancy Fernandez.

The property is now owned by Maria L. Hudson of Pasadena, who has entered into escrow to sell the property to Ma, Hance said.

Diane Alexander, a member of the Highland Park Heritage Trust, said the threatened demolition of the two bungalows illustrates a dilemma existing in much of Highland Park. Residents living in single-family homes want to maintain the quaint, old-town flavor of the area, but many lots, including those on which the California Craftsman homes sit, are zoned for apartments.

Margaret Herivel, who has owned a California Craftsman house next to the endangered homes for 34 years, said she wants to preserve what remains of the historic character of the street. There are two apartment buildings on the street now.

"If they tear those houses down, you can't rebuild them," Herivel said.

California Craftsman homes take their name from the arts-and-crafts movement that was popular in Pasadena at the turn of the century.

North of the Main Street

The homes slated for development are on a terrace just north of North Figueroa Street, Highland Park's main thoroughfare. According to Herivel, one home, the Tustin house, is named for the family that founded the city of Tustin.

Katherine Walter, an illustrator who recently bought the oldest home on the street, an 1892 California bungalow-style house built with arroyo stone, hardwood floors and cedar paneling, said many homes in the area are being bought by young couples interested in restoration.

"I love this area. Most of the people, they moved to the area because they love the homes and want to fix them up," Walter said.

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