April 2017 | ISSUE NUMBER 330
WAHA visits FIDM's Academy Award Costume exhibit
Weird West Adams
The creators of Esotouric discuss their Weird West Adams tours.
Cover photo: Frank Cooper
WAHA elections and more.
The West Adams newsletter is a publication of West Adams Heritage Association. Members and supporters of WAHA are invited to submit articles by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters and articles will be subject to space restraints and may be cut for length. Articles will be published subject to the editors.
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An exhibit at the William Grant Still Arts Center.
Nearly Gone Gal: The Rescued Archives of Nellie Lutcher
Do you know this house?
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Best Western on Western
Weird West Adams , an esotouric tour
Where's A.J.'s Hat?
Publisher & Editor
Layout & Design
weird West Adams
Ten years ago this June, I stood at the front of a coach class bus filled with Angelenos sitting two by two and asked if they were ready to take a trip through the dark side of Los Angeles history. They loudly agreed that they were.
We were about to embark on the debut excursion of Weird West Adams, a bus and walking tour focusing on what I don’t have to tell YOU, gentle reader, is one of L.A.’s most charming neighborhoods. Our aim was to present history through the filter of remarkable crimes. For the next four hours, we’d cruise the big boulevards and narrow side streets, stopping at scenes of mayhem and mystery, and noting scenic landmarks and oddities along the way.
I didn’t set out to give true crime tours for a living. In 2005, while researching a book about postwar Los Angeles, I began blogging a crime a day from the 1947 newspapers, from the Black Dahlia murder to Bugsy Siegel’s to dozens of fascinating, lesser-known cases.
Just a few months after launching the 1947project blog--and being featured in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine with a noir-style photo shoot in the old Highland Park police station jail--readers began emailing to ask about guided tours. As an experiment, I booked a coach class bus and wrote a blog post offering tickets to ride. The tour quickly filled up and tooling around the southland with fifty friendly crime fiends proved to be a lot of fun.
And after a few ramshackle, half-day 1947project-branded crime bus tours that careened all around the city, my husband Richard Schave announced that if we wanted to get serious, he was prepared to write bus tours about iconic L.A. writers like Raymond Chandler, Charles Bukowski, James M. Cain and John Fante.
I countered that I’d like to write a tour just about the Black Dahlia murder investigation, and some crime tours focusing on historic neighborhoods.
We decided to quietly script a full repertoire of bus tours, and launch them over a succession of Saturday afternoons. And in May 2007, Esotouric was born, the punning name dreamed up over chunky guacamole and chips at Ciro’s in Boyle Heights. Esoteric + tours = Esotouric bus adventures into the secret heart of Los Angeles, guided tours for locals who love their city and yearn to know it better. At check in, every passenger receives a nametag with their first name and their neighborhood, which we find is a terrific conversation starter.
West Adams was just right for the neighborhood-focused true crime tour series. Filled with handsome landmarks, with a dedicated historic preservation organization in WAHA, it had layers of history that offered a range of paths for telling an evolving story. Plus, it featured our favorite kind of off-the-bus stop: a 19th century cemetery (Angelus Rosedale) containing thousands of picturesque monuments and some fascinating permanent residents--among them, one of the most dangerous women in Los Angeles history, sociopathic murderess Louise Peete (executed 1947).
Another place we take a stroll is at Alvarado Terrace, a National Register historic district, a beautiful and unexpected collection of early 20th century mansions. This time capsule of a more genteel time also serves as a pocket survey of the fast-changing architectural fashions of early Los Angeles, from rustic Arts and Crafts to the romantic theatrics of the Mission Revival.
So, what sort of yarns do we spin to paint a psychological portrait of West Adams through the 20th century?
On our tour of the weird side of West Adams we honor the memory of Marvin Gaye, a brilliant musical artist killed by his own father with a gun that had been a holiday gift from the victim. When we give this tour in the springtime, we always look forward to seeing the magnificent wisteria vine climbing over the porch of the death house.
On our tour of the weird side of West Adams we recall a time before weekly trash collection, when junk was burned in backyard incinerators or dumped on vacant lots—with sometimes terrifying results.
On our tour of the weird side of West Adams we call up the restless spirit of the runaway wife whose ill-fated erotic dalliance ended with her hanging, mortally wounded, inside a closed Murphy bed.
On our tour of the weird side of West Adams we admire a handsome Adams Boulevard mansion that was repurposed during Prohibition to produce large quantities of bootleg liquor. Unlike some residential stills chugging away around the Southland, this one never blew up.
On our tour of the weird side of West Adams we recall a daffy Depression-era “dog carnival” that transformed the Loyola High School playing field into puppy heaven for a day.
Plus weird murders, lovers’ quarrels, hungry tar pits, oddball suicides, mysterious bombings, infrastructure failings, wartime hauntings, temperance reformers, man-hungry vamps, doomed seekers of enlightenment and many others who lost their lives in colorful fashion in old Los Angeles.
But it’s not all blood and gore. A section of the tour honors the early developers who subdivided this section of the city. And we talk about how Norman O. Houston and his lawyers challenged racist housing covenants in West Adams and far beyond.
Every Weird West Adams tour is different due to the mix of personalities aboard, and sometimes we learn the most fascinating things from our “gentle riders.” Like Fred, a dapper gentleman of advanced years, who interjected at the end of a silly tale about a starlet’s hijinks in the Princess Hotel to observe that he’d lived in the building as a child. He then proceeded to take the mic and beguile the bus with memories of his mother taking him to speakeasies as a small child—not to gamble, but because (like today’s Vegas buffets) the food was good and cheap! It really did feel like time travel that day.
And on one 2011 tour, we were in the right place at the right time to help save a landmark. Driving south down Union on our way to Alvarado Terrace, we snapped a photo of ugly plywood panels that were covering the historic incandescent bulb roof sign of the Doria Apartments (Historic-Cultural Monument # 432). This illegal billboard was removed soon after we shared the photo with the Office of Historic Resources, the City agency that protects landmarks from harm. And when we shared the tale on the next tour a few months later, everyone gave the beautiful old sign a rousing round of applause.
But our warmest memories of West Adams actually predate the bus tours. In 2006, we were married in the back garden of the Sara Velas’ Velaslavasay Panorama, with a feast catered by Papa Cristo’s.
Since launching the tour company, we’ve been involved in a number of historic preservation campaigns, like landmarking Charles Bukowski’s endangered East Hollywood bungalow, advocating for the return to service of Angels Flight Railway, and to get the 1895 Peabody-Werden House in Boyle Heights moved to a new site ahead of a major redevelopment project. When something cool and beautiful from L.A.’s past is in peril or just needs a little love, it’s our honor to raise consciousness and help however we can.
So what’s next for Esotouric?
All through 2017, we’re celebrating our tenth anniversary with special events: one-off tours, lectures, podcasts and publications. Around Labor Day, we’ll be on hand for the much-anticipated re-opening of Angels Flight Railway as representatives of the Angels Flight Friends and Neighbors Society, who successfully petitioned Mayor Garcetti to get involved. In the fall, we’ll participate in the centennial festivities at Grand Central Market, home of our free LAVA (Los Angeles Visionaries Association) Sunday Salons and architectural walking tours on the last Sunday of the month. And there are some top secret surprises to be announced.
We’d be delighted to see you, on or off the bus.
You can learn more about Esotouric, or sign up for our weekly newsletter at www.esotouric.com. And if you’d like to take a tour, Weird West Adams or a different one, just use the special WAHA discount code “weirdWAHA” on our website for savings of $15 off on as many as four tickets, good on any of our regularly scheduled bus adventures (but not on special events). This discount code expires on June 15, 2017.
Photos: Frank Cooper
Doria Apartments from the bus. Photo: Kim Cooper
Weird West Adams (continued)
Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours. She is the author of The Kept Girl, an historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. Her collaborative L.A. history blogs include On Bunker Hill and In SRO Land. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons of LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes.
Spring Historic Homes & Architecture tOUR
Every June, WAHA invites visitors to explore unique aspects of the Historic West Adams District, and this year is no different.
For the 2017 tour, we will explore the Westmoreland Heights Tract, a small pocket of the Harvard Heights neighborhood and HPOZ, spotlighting a nice selection of pre-1910 historic Craftsman, Tudor/Craftsman and American Foursquare homes, a restored original barn adapted for home office/studio use, plus one of Harvard Heights’ newest art venues, a recently-restored 1920s Streetcar Commercial style brick building.
The neighborhood is more than a century old. In 1899 Western Avenue was just a narrow dirt crossroad, Charles Stuart’s farm stretched out at Washington and Western, Henry C. Jensen’s brick manufactory sat a little bit to the north, and trains from Downtown barely reached this section of the countryside. But within a few years, the Harvard Heights neighborhood experienced wild development. By 1902, the Westmoreland Heights Tract (originally named West Moreland Heights) was well on its way, and Hobart and Westmoreland boulevards quickly filled with large, stately homes.
The tour will be self-guided, with doors opening at 10 a.m. and closing at 4 p.m., with visitors touring at their own pace. As always, we will need plenty of docents, who will be able to volunteer for one half-day shift (morning or afternoon) and tour during the other half of the day. The tour will raise funds for WAHA’s historic preservation advocacy efforts.
We invite you to participate, as a volunteer or as a tour visitor (bring your friends!)
We also still need some help organizing the tour – meetings start soon. If you would like to be on the Tour Organizing Committee, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and put “June Tour” in the subject line.
Spring Tour is set for
Saturday, June 3rd.
Do you know this house? The label on the photograph says that it was taken in Los Angeles in January of 1913. Does it look familiar? Do you know its location? If you recognize this home, please email email@example.com. We'd love to know for our archives.
Audrey Arlington is a longtime WAHA member and resident of Jefferson Park.
CIM Group is planning to convert the long-vacant, six-story hospital building at 2231 S. Western Ave. (northwest corner of W. 24th Street) south of the 10 freeway to residential work/live units. “Western Lofts” would create 60 units in an adaptive reuse project. A 160-seat rooftop restaurant is planned, with approximately 3,000 sq.ft. indoors and 2,000 sq.ft. outdoors, and a full alcohol license which will require a Conditional Use Permit. Because the project is an adaptive reuse, required parking is 66 parking spaces (including the restaurant), although the plans show 74. The pedestrian building entry would continue to be situated on the north side of the building. The site includes the parking lot adjacent on the west of the building, and access to the lot and to the subterranean parking garage would continue to be from W. 24th Street Outdoor living area for the residents would be provided both in the existing “garden” in the middle of the parking lot as well as on the rooftop in an area separate from the restaurant. The project does not include the parking lot immediately to the north of the building with its frontage on Western Ave. CIM Group also controls this site but has yet to announce its intentions for development.
Not surprisingly, there were concerns with the amount of parking – only six of the spaces would be reserved for what is clearly intended to be a destination restaurant, and the 34 spaces in the subterranean garage would require attendant-assisted tandem parking. Traffic circulation is problematic as well because there is no traffic signal at W. 24th Street where making a left turn from 24th Street onto northbound Western Ave. is already challenging.
The Zoning Administrator approved the project on March 2nd and the developer plans to submit construction drawings to the Building & Safety Department toward the end of April. Interior demolition/construction is expected to commence in late Spring.
When it opened in 1971, Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center was the city’s first black-owned hospital. In the 1970s and '80s it was a thriving, vital part of the West Adams community. But over the years the hospital fell into disrepair. In 2012, L.A. Metro’s parent company, Pacific Health Corp., was charged with insurance fraud in federal court. The hospital closed its doors in 2013, its contents liquidated and the building sold. In 2016 the abandoned hospital was the site of a large, immersive art show intended to play off the distinct creepiness of the hastily vacated hospital building. The show, “Human Condition,” featured the work of over 80 artists and ran in October and November.
With the development of the South Central Los Angeles Regional Center (SCLARC) on the east side of Western Ave. north of Adams Blvd. (which involved refurbishing the Golden State Mutual Building as well as a large new office building), the planned Best Western hotel further south on Western, and Western Lofts, an upswing in the fortunes of the much-blighted street may be in the works.
Photo: Reggie Jones
Western Lofts, 2231 S. Western Ave. by CIM Group
The long-vacant lots on the northwest corner of Western Avenue and W. 27th Street are finally under development as a hotel by Hospitality Resource Group (HRG) and Best Western. The 77-room, 3-story hotel is currently envisioned as a continuation of the Streamline Moderne style in evidence elsewhere on Western Ave. The required 51 parking spaces would be provided partially on the first level and in a subterranean garage. Consistent with the Best Western “Plus” amenity program (the middle level of three), the hotel would feature a breakfast bar, small lounge and office areas for guests, and a pool and small fitness center on the second level. HRG advises that the hotel would be marketed to guests in the $120-$160/night range who want proximity to downtown Los Angeles and USC, as well as visitors to local neighborhoods.
Among the issues to be addressed is the best location for vehicular access, currently shown on W. 27th Street. A pedestrian entry is planned on Western Ave. However the main guest drop-off and pick-up is within the enclosed ground floor garage which opens into the reception area. All guest rooms are on the second and third floors, with the second-floor pool screened from the adjacent alley and residential apartments by a wall. To the south of the site is a one-story, multi-tenant mini-mall with a restaurant, laundry, etc., extending between 27th and W. 28th Street. On the west is a 20-foot alley and a number of apartment buildings. The plans call for widening the alley on the hotel side by an additional five feet. On the north is a low income senior housing project. The existing overgrown ficus trees and damaged sidewalks around the site would be removed and replaced.
The proposal is in the very early stages of review by the community and no applications have yet been filed with the city. The project will require a Conditional Use Permit due to the proximity of residential uses, and will require the approval of a number of small reductions in required setbacks. The plans have received consultation reviews from both the Jefferson Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone board and the Planning and Zoning Committee of the United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council.
The site has been vacant since the early 1990s. Between 1964 and 1984 it was the site of the Bank of Finance, the first black-organized full service bank in California, and west of Kansas City.
New Life for Vacant Hospital on Western Avenue
The long frontage is Western Ave. and the short one is W. 27th Street.
Suzanne Cooper is a former board member of the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and coauthor of Los Angeles Art Deco and West Adams.
Her current project is a mural for
Street Martin's Church in Winnetka.
Specification Motor Oil System
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then multiple photos of this beautiful Art Deco structure are obviously worth far more than the sparse words allotted to it at the time it was built. Even though the Specification Oil Systems building must have dominated the area around 3800 West Washington Boulevard, there is surprisingly little information about it. Although there was a battery and tire shop owned by George H. Filgo built on the site in 1926, this building obviously dates to the early 1930s. A building permit dated June 6, 1930 lists the owner of the property as “Spec. Motor Oil Co. of L.A. Ltd” with no architect listed—given the fine design it’s lucky that one of the photos identifies him as Will J. Meyer of Bay City Building in Santa Monica.
A month after the building permit was granted the Los Angeles Times announced that the Specification Motor Oil System of Los Angeles would be allowed to issue 10,000 preferred shares, as well as 20,000 shares of common stock. It was probably not a good investment. By the time G.V. Henkel acquired the next building permit on May 25, 1934, the only references to the Specification Motor Oil System in any part of the country had to do with lawsuits and failure to pay taxes. They may have been overly ambitious: visible in the picture are nozzles labeled as specific oils for every manufacturer from Buick to Cadillac-La Salle to Stutz and beyond.
A photo in the Los Angeles Public Library archives has more detail on the gas pumps and repair areas on the other side of the tower. There’s also a sign advertising Alemite, a greasing system so popular that a 1923 article in the L.A. Times featured photos proving that even movie stars like Harold Lloyd, Leatrice Joy and Jackie Coogan could grease their own autos—at least for the cameras.
Various changes were made to the building throughout the years until a September 23, 1983 demolition permit allowed the building to be destroyed, leaving us with the much less uninspired architecture found at the corner of Washington and 8th today.
Photos: Mott Studios, courtesy of the California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento, California.
A Staycation for Preservation
Los Angeles City Hall, postcard c1930
Jean Frost is the current Preservation Committee Chair. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 42nd Annual California Preservation Conference - “Preservation at the Front” - will be held from May 10 through May 13 at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel and numerous other sites in and around Pasadena and Los Angeles. The California Preservation Foundation (CPF) is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of California’s diverse cultural and architectural heritage. We are delighted that this year the conference will be only a Gold Line train ride away from West Adams. Since this year’s Conference is in Southern California WAHA members may be very interested in attending some or all of the entertaining and educational programs. CPFs conference alternates between a northern and southern California site for the annual event. It is an opportunity to celebrate preservation as we gather together in a community spirit for CPF’s fortieth anniversary of its founding. This year you can be near home and enjoy a preservation orientated vacation.
Established in 1977, CPF works with its extensive network (WAHA is a member) to provide statewide leadership, advocacy and education to ensure the protection of California’s heritage. CPF lead the bipartisan effort to create a state preservation tax credit which would have included a homeowner credit which unfortunately was vetoed in October, 2014, by Governor Brown. CPF has been a close ally in opposing “the Flyover”, formally called the Interstate 110 Transit way Connector Project, I-110 HOV/HOT off-ramp to Figueroa Way. The severe environmental effects of this proposed 43 million dollar, two block, elevated concrete highway is of great concern to WAHA and CPF. These concerns, shared by the Los Angeles Conservancy and St. John’s Cathedral, are being communicated to the State Office of Historic Preservation.
The CPF Conference schedule is full of fascinating workshops, study tours and special events. Options range from a one day pass to entire conference packages. The opening reception is Wednesday night, May 10, at the Gamble House in Pasadena; and the closing reception is at Castle Green in Pasadena on Friday, May 12. The education sessions have five tracks to choose from: Analyze This: 40 Ways to Capture Reality; Fostering Resiliency and Preservation in the Face of Natural Disaster and 21st Century Change; From the Ground Up: Cultural Landscapes; Bridges to Inclusion: Linking Equity and Historic Preservation; and The Best Laid Plans: Case Studies in Preservation Planning.
There is also the very funny and popular “3 Minute Success Stories” on Thursday, May 11, at the “A Noise Within” Theater (located within the historic Stuart Pharmaceutical Building.) WAHA has participated in creating and staging these success stories at past conferences in Palm Springs, Pasadena and San Diego. The skits satirize and humorously celebrate hard fought preservation victories. And this year….who knows we could have something to celebrate. For a more comprehensive description of the very ambitious conference offerings, please go to CPF’s web site, www.californiapreservation.org. Below is a sampling of a few of the options.
On May 12, Historic Little Tokyo in the 21st Century – Protecting Cultural Identity, Affordability, and Mobility for a New Generation. You are invited to tour Little Tokyo to see how the “Sustainable Little Tokyo” initiative addresses development pressure, affordability, and transit infrastructure to ensure a healthy, equitable and culturally rich neighborhood for future generations.
On May 10, there is the Restoration and Seismic Retrofit of Los Angeles City Hall tour. How fun it would be to go to City Hall for something other than a hearing. The tour includes an inside look at the rotunda and a visit to the 27th Floor Observation deck.
On May 11, there is an Affordable Housing and Preservation Tour. Heritage Housing Partners (HHP) promotes long term affordable hosing home ownership through the preservation of existing historic homes and the creation of new, contextual homes. They have sold over 80 affordable homes and have 120 units in development.
On May 10, there is a tour of Pasadena Bungalow Courts: Then and Now. There are nearly 200 Bungalow Courts built between 1909 and WWII in a variety of architectural styles: Craftsman, Tudor, Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco. Two signature National Register Courts will be open (including interiors): Gartz Court and Bryan Court.
On May 13, Pasadena Heritage is offering and all day event of “an inside glimpse of iconic Pasadena” featuring “strategies for successful advocacy illustrated by real life examples” entitled Saving Pasadena: 40 Years of Preservation Progress with Pasadena Heritage. Advocacy is at the core of WAHA’s mission and we applaud and celebrate successes when they happen.
I would encourage WAHA members to attend when they can. There is something very special about a gathering of the converted – people to whom preservation is integral to any endeavor and a key component to a quality of life. Conferences educate, train, inform, entertain and celebrate what is at the core of WAHA’s mission - and are fun to boot. The headquarters for the conference is the Pasadena Hilton and Pasadena Heritage is a lead conference partner. It will be two years before the CPF conference returns to Southern California. So take this opportunity to have some fun in solidarity with others who support preservation.
UPCOMING waha EVENTS
Clip art courtesy of http://worldartsme.com
To have your classified ad placed in this newsletter, please send your proposed ad to email@example.com no later than the first of the month prior to the month of publication of the ad..
Hi, I'm Lisa Raymond and I live in Arlington Heights. I moved to this area because I like the unique history of the neighborhood, the historic architecture and I have made lots of friends here over the years. You may have seen the recent article I wrote for the WAHA newsletter about the new/many art galleries springing up in West Adams.
I have been involved with WAHA since 2011, when I first volunteered for the Living History Tour. Since then, I have volunteered in a variety of capacities, including volunteer coordinator for WAHA events. Most recently, I assisted John Patterson with last year’s holiday tour. This is an activity that I enjoyed and would like to be part of in the future.
My strengths include listening, organization, problem solving and brainstorming. I bring a unique perspective to the WAHA Board because I am a renter, a property manager, as well as being a member of the arts community. As such I represent a set of people who tend to be in the younger crowd just moving into the West Adams area for the first time. I love West Adams for it’s cultural and economic diversity and wish to add to to the community through beautification, cultural celebration and historical preservation.
I respectfully solicit your support for this position on the Board of Directors. I will do my best to ensure WAHA's goals are met and that vital activities to the organization continue uninterrupted.
Are YOU Interested?
WAHA’s Board of Directors election is coming up at the General Elections Meeting on April 9th (see Events page for address and details). If you would like to learn more about joining the board or submit a brief statement introducing yourself and your qualifications, email John Kurtz at firstname.lastname@example.org. WAHA will accept nominations and candidates from the floor of the general meeting as long as the candidates are present and accept the nomination.
I am running for re-election to the WAHA Board. I was a WAHA Founder in 1983, and since then I have been involved in a myriad of WAHA activities. I was the longtime editor for WAHA’s publications. Currently, I coordinate the annual Living History Tour at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, serve on WAHA’s Preservation Committee, and I co-chair the June tour, raising funds for preservation advocacy. I am very active in the broader Historic West Adams community, and serve as the land use chair for United Neighborhoods Neighborhood Council. Professionally I am a journalist and historian. All of these activities combine, I believe, to make me a valuable leader for WAHA and the community.
WAHA Election Meeting
April 9, 2017 4:00-6:00 p.m.
2102 West 24th Street
Join us at the home of our president, John Kurtz, for wine, cheese and elections.
Fefu & Her Friends at Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House
May 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 26-28 @ 8pm
Directed by WAHA resident Kate Jopson
On a seemingly ordinary day in 1935, a group of women gather to plan a philanthropic fundraiser. The host Fefu is impulsive, unapologetic and boldly leads the women until Julia enters the picture. Once brilliant and fearless, Julia’s spirit was broken when a mysterious hunting accident left her paralyzed. Or did it? Featuring an international cast of women, Fornés’ 1977 play explores how subtle pressures work on women across the world to conform to an ideal of meekness and femininity.
Hollyhock House, Barnsdall Art Park
800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Tickets: $60 Free Lot Parking
If you are interested in getting a group together to attend, email email@example.com.
We need to make plans quickly, as there are only 20 tickets per evening.
We would also like to know if there is enough interest to bring the play to West Adams at a later date. This would be a fairly big undertaking and we would need some volunteers to help coordinate.
Please email Suzie at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in hosting any sort of event at your home or if you have an idea for an event you would like us to plan. We’ll do all the work if you just open your home!
WAHA’s annual excursion to the museum at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) was a delightful day of costumes and companionship. Rory Cunningham explained to the group how costumes are made. Using Superman as an example, he explained about all the complex layers involved in superhero garb, making it sound more like sculpture than sewing. He elaborated on who designed each piece, which ones he worked on and other behind-the-scenes tales about how these glorious (and sometimes rather plain) outfits add texture and reality to a character onscreen.
Photos: Suzanne Cooper, Dave Pleger
March 11, 2017
WAHA's VISIT to FIDM
Nellie Lutcher Exhibit: City of Los Angeles
1950 publicity still from General Artists Corporation
Nearly Gone Gal:
The Rescued Archives of Nellie Lutcher
Nellie Lutcher (1912 – 2007) was a trailblazing songwriter, jazz pianist, vocalist, and West Adams resident whose bluesy swing riffs won her fame as the “Real Gone Gal” in the late 1940s, leading to worldwide tours and singing engagements with Nat King Cole, among others. Between 1947 and 1950, Lutcher claimed eight million-selling Top Ten hits; her most famous songs were “Hurry on Down,” “Fine Brown Frame” and “He’s A Real Gone Guy”—the latter leading to her nickname, the “Real Gone Gal.” Lutcher later became the first African American female board member of the Musicians Union Local 47.
She belonged to a group of musicians whose recordings, one critic said, "were among the foundation stones of rock."
Lutcher begged to differ.
"I'm a little bit of jazz, a little rhythm and blues. I do pop things and I like ballads," she told the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 1993. "But I don't consider myself anything of rock. Whatever I did I made sure it was something I could restyle, because my whole thing was to give everything a creative, individual touch."
Lutcher learned to mix blues with pop, swing with boogie-woogie, novelty with sentiment. She was a little risqué, and always fun. Nina Simone later credited Lutcher as being one of her musical influences.
Now a new local exhibit at the William Grant Still Arts center, “Nearly Gone Gal: The Rescued Archives of Nellie Lutcher,” celebrates this popular musician, showcasing her archival recordings, newspaper articles, personal letters, studio portraits, family photographs, contracts, handwritten charts, and music sheets, among other materials. The archives on view also include hand written ledgers and materials of Musician’s Union, Local 47, from the period when Lutcher served as Board Director.
The exhibit also celebrates the recovery of Lutcher’s archives, which had been discarded after her death by a Lutcher family member and left in boxes and trashcans in the Harvard Heights neighborhood. Local historian and community activist Billie Green found and rescued Lutcher’s photographs, letters and other documents left in boxes and piles at Hobart and Washington.
The “Nearly Gone Gal” exhibition weaves a narrative of this pivotal American musical talent, while stressing the importance of preserving legacies, archives and histories through community efforts.
The William Grant Still Arts Center
2520 West View Street
Los Angeles, California 90016
Tuesday-Saturday, Noon – 5 p.m.
Exhibit on view through June 10, 2017
Nellie Lutcher on the Today Show in 1956
The biggest loser in our current real estate tsunami, a tidal wave of inflation and turnover? The entry-level buyer, the mom-and-pop non-profit, the cash-strapped renter? Nah, it's the dining room built-in. The china cabinet, the buffet, the sideboard--call it a hutch Butch--all the same, a goner. Expunged, expelled, sacrificed in the pursuit of 'the open plan.' Who needs a pass-through when one can pass over, under, Tom Brady-like. The swinging door, you wonder? Collateral damage.
Keeping an Open Mind About the Open Plan
Loftification rages, rustic Arts-and-Crafts houses, other detail-rich pre-war vernaculars, transformed into coffin-shaped fields of pearl, anchored by gleaming counters, the latest flat screen, a glint of brainless steel. Rising values have always encouraged improvements, the odd expenditure, new paint, a working furnace. But this time it's personal, er, professional. Investors have swamped West Adams (and elsewhere). Our HPOZs have saved many an exterior element, but the flipper playbook includes more than tangerine colored doors and horizontal fencing.
Stand A-side Board!
Of course one change begets another. Kitchens are opened to dining rooms, flooring segues re-worked, plate rails and wainscoting abut curiously. Minus those original transitions, even that woodwork miraculously unpainted meets the integrationist brush. A triumph of modern materials and sensibilities, or merely fashion's fickle finger? Once undone, ever restored?
As Jane King Hession, an architectural writer and historian has written: “Communities can take many forms and mean different things to different people. Vary though they may, all communities are fundamentally alike in that they are all composed of individuals who, collectively, share common interests, characteristics or geography. The whole of a community comprises its parts.”
Here in West Adams, it has always been said that when you buy a house, it comes with a neighborhood and a community. I was reminded of this again over the last few months as I recovered from an unexpected right knee surgery which kept me in a straight splint brace unable to drive and at times barely able to move about.
The West Adams squad seemed to get a call to action. Food and meal deliveries, offers for walking the dog, help with maintaining the garden and my grounds, coverage for hosting and running WAHA Board meetings, rides to doctor’s appointments, rides for errands such as banking and pharmacy needs, grocery procurements, lunch and dinners out when I reached cabin fever levels, even shower grab bar installation and DVD film home deliveries to help pass the time, a multitude of gracious acts of kindness and concern outpoured from friends and neighbors here in West Adams.
All this activity on my behalf, at a time when I needed it most, made me realize one of the most enduring of all communities is the one of family and friends. I am grateful West Adams became my home 28 years ago. I am also grateful for all those acts of kindness. I don’t think I could have picked a better place to live. I hope you feel the same!
Open Floor plans and other remuddles
John Kurtz can be reached at email@example.com.
Original bungalow design with china cabinet.
Photo: David Saffer
Adam Janeiro, an 18-year resident of West Adams, is a licensed real estate salesperson with local brokerage City Living Realty.
Open plan with china cabinet and room dividers removed.
Photo: Adam Janiero
Future of Preservation
Lore Hilburg and Reggie Jones
Craig Bartelt & Nick Mercado
Hilary & A.J. Lentini
Hunter Ochs & Kim Michener
Ivy Pochoda & Justin Nowell
Ed Trosper & David Raposa
Edy & George Alva
John H. Arnold & Curt Bouton
Barbara Bestor & Tom Stern
David Bottjer & Sarah Bottjer
Lisa Ellzey & Jeff (Ulrik) Theer
Friends of Hazy Moon Zen Center
Jim & Janice Robinson
Board of Directors
John Kurtz, President 323-732-2990
Suzanne Henderson 323-731-3900
Jean Cade, Treasurer 323-737-5034
Paula Brynen, Secretary 323-936-7285
Regina Berry 323-333-0175
SeElcy Caldwell 323-292-8566
Jim Childs 213-747-2526
Lore Hilburg 323-934-4443
Laura Meyers 323-737-6146
Roland Souza 323-804-6070
Jeff Theer 323-964-9999
Candy Wynne 323-735-3749
Legal Advisor 323-732-9536
Edward Humphreville &
Where's AJ's Hat?
Harry Anderson & Terry Bible
Jeffrey & Patricia Baum
Paula & Paul Brynen
Odel Childress & Donald Weggeman
Clare & Michael Chu
Rory Cunningham & David Pacheco
Art Curtis & Shelley Adler
Suzanne Dickson &
Andrea Dunlop & Max Miceli
Sarah and Charles Evans
Elizabeth Fenner & Brian Robinson
Jean Frost & Jim Childs
Donald & Suzanne Henderson
Amanda & Tomas Jegeus
Patricia Karasick &
Kevin Keller & Marc Choueiti
Paul King & Paul Nielsen
Adrienne & Blake Kuhre
Sarah & Steve Lange
Los Angeles Conservancy,
Cassandra Malry & Thom Washington
Joseph McManus & Lara Elin Soderstrom
JoAnn Meepos & Steven Edwards
Marina Moevs & Steven Peckman
John Patterson & Jeff Valdez
Gail D. Peterson
Mary Power & Librada Hernandez
Judy Reidel & Al Hamburger
Walter Rivers, Jr.
Donna & Mark Robertson, Sr.
Amy Ronnebeck & Alan Hall
Debbie & Stan Sanders
Mary Shaifer & Chris Murphy
Chris Taylor & Ansley Bell
Stephen Vincent & Jessica McCullagh
Jeffrey Weiss & David Bailey
Ned Wilson & Carrie Yutzy
Ashley Wysong & Robert Lobato
So if you think you know where AJ’s hat is in the picture AND you are a WAHA member and want a chance to get your hand on the prize, email your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org before April 15th. Only one entry per member allowed. And sorry WAHA Board members - you’re not eligible to win the prize.
Transitioning from Paper to Digital
As you know, one of our major goals this calendar year is to transition the WAHA Newsletter from the printed document you’ve received in the mail to one you are able to read online. By now, most if not all of you have had a chance to review the digital version of the newsletter. This digital format is now the primary newsletter version and will be the source material for the printed version AND it includes FULL-COLOR photographs and many bonus features that the printed version will not have. The bonus content in the digital version includes:
The ability to link directly to other online content such as photographs, articles and websites for more content, including the WAHA website.
Click and enlarge FULL COLOR photographs for easy viewing or to see additional photographic content.
Download the newsletter to any device and take it with you wherever you go.
Allows printing of multiple copies of specific articles or the whole newsletter if you desire in FULL COLOR.
An interactive document that will allow members to participate and share information, events and resources.
This new digital format is much less expensive to produce and deliver to WAHA to members, both from a financial and manpower perspective. Every print copy of the newsletter costs roughly $1.70 to produce and about $1.50 to mail. Sending the newsletter in digital format saves the organization between $1,000 to $1,500 each month or approximately $13,000 per year. In terms of the total budget for the organization, printing the newsletter consumes approximately 70% or more of most members’ annual dues.
In addition to the financial cost, a considerable amount of volunteer labor and time are required to prepare, label, seal, stamp and mail each newsletter to members. The financial and man-hour savings by not printing the newsletter can be reinvested in preservation efforts, additional web site improvements, tours or events.
The Communications Committee is now consistently producing and sending the newsletter electronically to every member with an email address. If for some reason you’re not receiving the electronic format (Do we have your current correct email address?) or if you’d like to only receive the digital edition and opt out of receiving the paper edition, please contact me at email@example.com. As a reminder, you will receive the electronic format through a download email.
WAHA (and Friends) Calendar
WAHA Election Meeting
April 9, 2017 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Join us at the home of our president, John Kurtz, at 2102 West 24th Street for wine, cheese and elections.
Cocktails in Historic Places
April 21, 2017 6:00-8:00 p.m.
The Pacific Seas Tiki Bar, 3rd floor of Clifton’s Cafeteria, adsla.org
Bake & Gather Bake Sale
April 23, 2017 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Leslie N. Shaw Park
Bake & Gather is raising funds for A Sense of Home, asenseofhome.org.
To contribute some delicious treats email Sarah@bearclawkitchen.com.
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 22-23, 2017 11:00-4:00
Restoration Expo 2017
April 23, 2017 11:00-4:00
Doctors House Museum Lawn & Gazebo, Brand Park, 1601 W. Mountain Street, Glendale 91201
Leimert Park Garden Tour
May 6, 2017
A self-guided tour of eleven private residents’ gardens.
WAHA Board Retreat
May 20, 2017
Annual 4th of July Barbecue
July 4, 2017
2957 Brighton Avenue
Ice Cream Social
August 20, 2017 2:00-5:00 p.m.
1606 S. Point View Street, Los Angeles