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Landmarks Commission Explores Vintage House:

A Colonial Revival-style house at 2323 5th Street was discussed at Monday night’s meeting of the Landmarks Commission, in reaction to a proposal that it be designated for landmark status.

The proposal was made by the house’s owner Karl Rydgren, who had sent the Commission a letter in October, asking it to consider designating the house. The Commission assigned a City consultant to prepare a preliminary assessment of the house.

Rydgren, 91, has been a Santa Monica resident since 1919 and has seen Santa Monica’s changes over the years. “I remember,when there were hardly any houses north of Wilshire,” he said.

According to the tax assessor’s records, as cited in the consultant’s report, the house was built in 1930. According to Rydgren, it was built in 1925. He remembered visiting the 5th Street house at its original location, on the “Gold Coast” stretch of Pacific Coast Highway, in the late 1920s when its tenants were the Marx Brothers, with a messenger who was delivering a telegram to the brothers.

The house was subsequently bought by Rydgren’s father-in-law and was moved to its present location in 1937, according to Rydgren. He hopes to bequeath it to his granddaughter and told the Commission that he believes the house “will last for several generations.”

While Rydgren stressed the aesthetics as well as the history of the house, the consultant’s assessment did not find the building to be of major significance. The main issue, according to the consultant’s report, was that the house had been moved from its original location at 562 Pacific Coast Highway to its present location on 5th Street in Ocean Park “Moved houses” have not always been regarded as worthy of landmark designation because they have been uprooted from their original neighborhoods.

However, as Commissioner RuthAnn Lehrer noted: “House moving was very common” in earlier times in Santa Monica, as new neighborhoods opened up, residents acquired new property, and houses that were cherished were moved to new locations.

The Commission did not agree with the observations in the consultant’s report. Members felt that the house was not only aesthetically pleasing but was unique compared to the surrounding buildings in the area. Commissioner Nina Fresco described her reaction to walking past the house: “This house jumped out of its lot at me. To me, a house that has a story that jumps out at me when I walk by… I want to know more about it.”

Fresco thought the house should be nominated for designation then and there, but Commission chair Roger Genser wanted to take a more cautious approach. He said that he did not want to jump ahead and nominate the house without further information about specific features that would qualify under the criteria for landmark status. He was concerned to hear that the consultant had not interviewed Rydgren about his house and that Rydgren had not had an opportunity to read the consultant’s report. “Why not have this come back to us?” he said “The owner can respond to the report and the consultant can speak to the owner.”

Commission members agreed that more information will be sought from the consultant and the owner, someone from the City staff will speak with the owner on behalf of the consultant, and the owner will have time to respond to the consultant’s assessment.

In other business, the Commission continued action on two proposed demolitions: a single-family residence at 628 17th Street, described as having a “storybook style,” and a single-family Craftsman –style bungalow residence at 1327 Euclid Street. Both buildings will be researched and will be discussed at a future meeting.

The Commission also discussed whether a nine-story parking structure proposed for construction next to the parking lot of the Santa Monica Bay Women’s Club at 1210 4th Street would have a negative impact on the club building, a City Landmark. As the Draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report) for the parking program did not find the construction to represent a problem (the issue of shadows cast by the proposed building having been researched) the Commission concluded that there was no problem with the proposed project per the Draft EIR.

The Commission also approved two Statements of Official Action, for revisions to the demolition and replacement of a two-car garage at the rear of 2612 3rd Street (a designated contributor to the Third Street Historic District) and the landmark designation of a multi-family residential building at 1143 11th Street, with the language of the designation reflecting that the front part of the building is the actual landmark while the real property is a landmark parcel.

No action was taken on the following demolition permits: 941 23rd Street, 811 19th Street, 907 18th Street, 919 17th Street, 1302 Alta Avenue, and 1951 18th Street.

A demolition permit for 130 San Vicente Boulevard (the Teriton Apartments) was noted to have been withdrawn as of November 29. The Teriton is being researched for possible landmark designation.

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