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Group Picks First Project in Effort to Save Houses

September 14, 1989|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

A faded khaki-colored house, splattered with graffiti and scarred by vandalism, has been selected by a newly formed group of preservationists in Eagle Rock as their first target for designation as a historic-cultural monument.

The Eagle Rock Assn., a group of residents who have worked to fight development, this summer formed a six-member historic preservation committee to single out and protect historical and cultural buildings, neighborhoods and landmarks in the community.

Their first priority is a deteriorating 93-year-old Victorian house that has stood vacant for more than 14 years in the midst of a commercial and industrial strip on Eagle Rock Boulevard, the community's main artery.

The Los Angeles City Cultural Heritage Commission is expected to decide next week whether the two-story building at 4340 Eagle Rock Blvd.--named after Fred Meyer, who built it in about 1896--is worthy of preservation.

If the commission agrees that it is--and the City Council confirms the action--the house will be protected from demolition for up to a year.

In their application for preservation, the group described the house's architecture as an "eclectic mix of Colonial Revival, Craftsman and Victorian Queen Anne."

Still in Original State

Commissioners and city officials who toured the house last week found that it is still in its original state, with no alterations or additions, said Nancy Fernandez, commission executive assistant.

However, the house was moved from its original site in Pasadena in 1922 to make way for a gasoline station, records show.

Designation of the house as a monument would allow the preservation committee time to seek a developer who is willing to restore it, possibly for use as an office building, or to move it to a residential neighborhood, preferably one with similar restored older houses such as Angelino Heights, Fernandez said.

A public hearing is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Room 1500 at Los Angeles City Hall.

Jeffrey B. Samudio, chairman of the citizens preservation committee, said the house is among more than two-dozen buildings in the area that members are lobbying to have designated as historic-cultural monuments.

The group has also targeted two neighborhoods of older houses that it hopes to have designated as "historic preservation overlay zones."

That designation would require owners and builders to obtain city permission before making any changes to existing buildings or constructing new ones, officials said.

However, there are only three such zones in the entire city and the process for the designation takes years to complete, Fernandez said.

The neighborhoods designated by the citizens group for the special zoning include a four-block area of 91 houses and apartments east of Eagle Rock Boulevard and bounded by Yosemite Drive on the north, Laverna Avenue on the south and Maywood Avenue on the east.

They are also seeking to preserve 40 older houses along a two-block length of Langdale Avenue from Eagle Rock Boulevard to College View Avenue.

Both proposed zones are quiet neighborhoods of largely wood-frame houses and duplexes on deep lots, and are threatened with encroaching development of apartment buildings and large new houses.

Samudio said the group plans to initiate action to form the historic overlay zones within a month.

Times staff writer Esther Schrader contributed to this story.

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