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EAST LOS ANGELES : Decision Delayed on Revoking Landmark

November 13, 1994|MARY ANNE PEREZ

The State Historical Resources Commission has put off until its February meeting a decision on whether to remove the historic landmark designation on the Golden Gate Theater, which would bring it a step toward possible demolition.

The Angelopoulos family, which has owned the property for 20 years, has asked the commission to remove the 67-year-old building from the National Register of Historic Places.

The family believes selling the property might be easier without the 11,000-square-foot theater, which cannot be torn down if it has such a historic designation, said Angelopoulos attorney Jerold B. Neuman. The owner would also have to ask the county to remove the historic landmark designation it conferred on the building last summer.

The entire site--the Vega Building, Golden Gate Theater and adjoining courtyard--had been placed on the national register in 1974. The family contends that the site no longer qualifies for historic designation because the Vega Building, which had once held apartments and offices and lined Whittier Boulevard, was demolished in 1992 after suffering extensive damage in the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake.

Eastside preservationists fear the owners will demolish the building, whose entrance replicates the portal of the University of Salamanca in Spain, in the process of marketing the land at Whittier and Atlantic boulevards.

The commission delayed its decision, originally scheduled for its Nov. 4 meeting in Costa Mesa, so its members could review a report submitted by the Los Angeles Conservancy making a case for keeping the building in the register.

The conservancy considers the theater important because of its architectural style. The theater is one of fewer than two dozen buildings in Los Angeles built in the Churrigueresque style.

The architecture, the report said, exemplifies the "distinctive characteristics of the neighborhood movie palace, a genre which flourished in Southern California for only a few years, between about 1925 and 1932."

In its report, the conservancy says the building also was one of a host of projects by developer Peter Snyder, who has been credited with extending Atlantic Boulevard into the Eastside, promoting its development. This link with a historically important figure meets one of the criteria for keeping the historic designation, said Barbara Hoff, a conservancy staff member who recently toured the theater with two commissioners, Eastside activists and Neuman.

"We're doing all we can so (the designation) is not removed," Hoff said last week.

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