EAGLE ROCK — A residents group hoping to win monument status for the Women's Christian Temperance Union Home for Women has overcome a key hurdle, but a church's proposal to take over and preserve the historic complex appears in doubt.
The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission recommended last week that the home's 65-year-old main building on Norwalk Avenue be named as a historic monument. The Eagle Rock Assn. had proposed the designation after members heard that the WCTU was thinking of selling the building, which until recently was run as a retirement home.
The final decision on the commission's recommendation rests with the City Council. If approved, the monument designation could block any proposed demolition or alteration of the historic structures for up to a year.
In its nomination, the association argued that the building is significant for its style and historical role as a local home of the anti-alcohol movement.
The four-story main building, designed in the Mission Revival style, has four wings stemming from a cupola-topped central tower. It was built in 1927 and was run originally as a home for aging temperance-union activists, "unfortunate girls" and single women.
Commissioners agreed to exclude from the designation a 1940s addition and several bungalows on the 1.75-acre complex after hearing plans proposed by representatives of First German United Methodist Church, which is seeking to buy the property. The church's proposal to build a chapel on the grounds and use the main building for offices and meetings won support from the Eagle Rock Assn.
But a church spokesman said Friday that negotiations had snagged since the meeting, because the WCTU administrators seemed reluctant to grant the church a one-year option to purchase in order to get necessary land-use permits first.
"Maybe we'll do it. I don't know," said Fred Sack, chairman of the church's board of directors. "We would love to buy the property. The price is not a problem."
Sack said the church has met in St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Eagle Rock after being forced to sell its own downtown establishment four years ago to make way for a redevelopment project.
Repeated messages left on the WCTU phone-answering machine were not returned. Executive Director Margaret Hammarstrom hung up when reached at her home Monday.
The WCTU took no official stance on the monument designation, but Hammarstrom had been quoted earlier as saying the move might hurt attempts to sell the property.
Citing financial losses, the union announced in February that it was closing the home--one of only a handful of retirement homes in the country still run by the 120-year-old temperance group. Recently, the home was licensed for 117 residents, but vacancies, rising insurance costs and a shortage of outside aid have made it impossible to run, WCTU officials said.