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Landmark Cherished for Its Atmosphere

July 16, 1989

We are writing in response to Sam Hall Kaplan's column on the Pan Pacific (June 18).

In our fight to save the Dunning House in Hollywood, my wife and I have developed our own bones to pick with Los Angeles' "preservationist community" (a wonderful euphemism--it sounds like the Daughters of the American Revolution trapped on a desert island).

In eight months of struggle, however, the most disheartening part of the process was the almost universal reaction of preservationists who saw the Dunning House, without hand-carved flying buttresses or cots on which Chaplin may have slept, as not worth saving, or--and this was somehow worse--merely "borderline."

Without training in local history or preservation issues, all we could attest to was the atmosphere of the place, and the way it "made us feel," which seemed, somehow, terribly important to preserve.

Then, in Kaplan's column, was the following: "That certain structures can capture the spirit of a time is what makes them landmarks, to be cherished not only for their design, but also for their ability to lend a city a sense of place and history."

Why is that idea so impossible for "preservationists" to understand?

PAUL GORDON

DONNA WILLIAMS

Los Angeles

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