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Geyser May Put Mark on History

Architecture: Burst main draws wanted attention to preservationist's Eichler home.

June 22, 2001|DAVID PIERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Adriene Eng looked on the bright side of having a burst water main spew rocks and hundreds of gallons of water on her Eichler home in Granada Hills on Thursday.

"This little disaster brought people together," she said. "All the neighbors are outside looking at our house."

For the 44-year-old collector and seller of art deco objects, having the neighborhood appreciate her home was exactly what she wanted.

Thursday was the day that 40 community members were supposed to meet to discuss a push to have the city historically recognize the neighborhood's crop of Eichler homes.

The postmodern houses are synonymous with California for their floor-to-ceiling windows and open-air atmosphere. The focus is simplicity: flat roofs, boxy layouts and lots of natural lighting. Houses can range from 1,700 to 2,300 square feet in size. Many feature atriums.

They were developed in the 1950s by Joseph Eichler, a Northern Californian builder who left his family's butter-and-egg business in 1947 to pioneer affordable, modern housing that was available to people of all races and religions.

"They're interesting from an architectural and a social standpoint," said Eng's neighbor, Jaime Flores, a graphic designer who is leading the community effort for historical recognition.

The water main burst in front of Eng's house about 11:20 a.m. in the 17100 block of Lisette Street, authorities said. A sinkhole formed as a 100-foot geyser sprayed water on Eng's home, neighbors said.

Eng's house did not sustain major damage, but water flooded her cars and poured from the roof. Mud covered the home's atrium.

Eng said the meeting would still take place Thursday night. Homeowners hope to have the neighborhood deemed a Historical Preservation Overlay Zone by the city.

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