4418 Vineland Ave. in an undated photo, courtesy of Mary Mallory.
Two years can bring changes in life, whether to a person or building, and not always for the better. I wrote about the history of 4418 Vineland Ave. in May 2014, pointing out that the building had opened as a medical office complex in 1947 and had remained as such through 2014.
Photographs demonstrated how it still remained a building of integrity, looking much the same as it had more than 60 years ago. What appeared to be original brick facade had been plastered over and decorative detailing over the windows had been removed, though the original windows appeared to remain.
4418 Vineland Ave., photographed by Mary Mallory in October 2016.
When I wrote two years ago, I noted that the building had been listed for sale, with suggestions of developing it into commercial condominiums. Listings noted that most tenants had occupied the building for more than ten years, some for more than thirty years. While I have no definitive news that it has been sold, it is no longer on the market.
Current owners S & M Toluca Lake Property LLC pulled a permit March 14, 2016 to replace stairs, replace entry doors, replace windows, add an irregularly shaped canopy, and perform plumbing work. Renovations are under way, and the building currently appears to resemble a muddied brick box, with integrity disappearing. While it appears that perhaps the plaster is being removed to reveal the original brick facade, windows are also being bricked over and therefore changing the appearance of the building.
At this point, I am disheartened I did not file a Historic Cultural Monuments nomination for the structure, one that had remained virtually intact, both in its architecture and in its original use.
This quick transformation reveals how sharply historic preservationists and those interested in vintage buildings and unique architecture must keep an eagle eye out for changes and alterations in the built environment, especially in this time of massive demolition and redevelopment. Everyone must act as stewards of our architectural past, one that tells us much about that society but also reveals what current communities value and appreciate.
4418 Vineland Ave., photographed in 2014 by Mary Mallory.
It takes a village in watching over and fighting to preserve our architectural legacy. Historic preservation organizations and societies are overwhelmed with all the development in process, especially since the vast majority are composed of volunteers who fight the good fight in their free time after working jobs and taking care of families. Most are desperate for volunteers, members, and funds to keep up the work.
Organizations need interested persons to keep them informed of potential threats to historic structures, especially if green fences have been erected or demolition or renovation work has begun. Often work starts before historic groups even know that something is under threat, giving them little time to fight demolition, work without permits, or work begun by mistakenly given permits. If notice is given in time, groups can work to research and perhaps file Historic Cultural Monument nominations, as well as garner public support for the preservation of these structures. That is how such buildings as the Wiltern Theatre, Egyptian Theatre, and North Hollywood’s 1895 train station still stand.
The Los Angeles Conservancy website provides a very informative and helpful primer in the types of tools available to employ for preserving buildings, from making comments through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), to banding together to raise your voices in print, the media, and at city hearings, or most importantly, to file Historic Cultural Monument nominations for architecturally, culturally, or historically significant structures.
The entrance to 4418 Vineland Ave., in an undated photo, courtesy of Mary Mallory.
There are many buildings that currently are not listed as Historic Cultural Monuments or National Historic Register properties that could be if paperwork was filed to list them, which requires many hands to fulfill. Most historic organizations don’t have enough volunteers or hours to accomplish this, but they could ensure the survival and safety of many buildings with local residents’ help.
Any one can file a HCM nomination in Los Angeles, even without the owner’s permission. Often this is how buildings such as the Walt Disney home in Los Feliz, the Lytton/Chase Bank on Sunset Boulevard, and the Metropolitan Church have seen extended life or even been saved from the wrecking ball. It requires passion and dedication in standing tall in the face of possible defeat.
The LA Conservancy also provides a great database in preparing a nomination, from learning how to research and write one yourself to possibly hiring a consultant to draft it instead. The database explains the process involved in researching everything from deeds to permits to residents to architecture as well as obtaining historic photographs showing the property in question. The Conservancy and Hollywood Heritage sometimes hold seminars on how to write nominations.
The side entrance to 4418 Vineland Ave., October 2016, by Mary Mallory.
Historic Illustrations and photographs are vital in preserving a building. Giving copies of vintage photos of buildings to history societies, libraries, or archives helps provide a visual record much needed for preservation work. Manuscript and ephemera items can also be very useful in documenting the history of a structure.
More than anything, historic institutions, preservation groups, or single individuals need massive grass-roots support in the fight to preserve our historic past. They need scores of people to write, email, or call public officials about saving buildings and especially to show up in force at any public hearings to voice their concerns. Active community support goes a long way towards saving our vintage buildings.
Local communities and neighborhoods are witnessing dramatic changes, many of which threaten to sweep major historic icons away. They need your help in preserving their historic architectural built environment for future generations.