Brentwood’s Barry Building moved a step closer to achieving historic status as the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted at a hearing on July 12 to designate the 1951 commercial structure a cultural-historic monument. In order for the Barry Building to be declared a cultural-historic building it must now be reviewed by the Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee followed by a vote by the entire City Council.
Diane Caughey, daughter of Milton Caughey, the building’s architect, organized an effort to save the building from being demolished when she learned that the building’s owner, billionaire Charles T. Munger, had plans to tear down “The Barry” and build luxury condos with retail shops.
Appearing before the Commission to present a detailed presentation on the Barry Building, Caughey said that even if building owner Munger changes his development plans for the project, “What is clear, however, is that this site provides an excellent opportunity to integrate a historic building with a new development.”
Caughey noted, “The Barry Building meets two of the Historic-Cultural Monument criteria: first as an architectural type specimen of mid-twentieth century California modern architecture, inherently valuable for the study of that period and method of construction. And the second criteria as a building that reflects the broad cultural, economic, or social history of the community.”
Following Caughey’s presentation Commission members heard from Munger, who said that he was considering a two-story retail project instead of luxury condos. Referring to the “tsunami hitting private bookstores” like Dutton’s Books, which has been located at the Barry Building since 1984, Munger said the bookstore can remain in the new project but it “will need a cash infusion” to survive as a business.
The July 12 hearing was held to consider the historic-cultural monument status of the building and not the survival of Dutton’s Books. Commission President Mary Klaus Martin made it clear that the future of Dutton’s Books was an entirely separate issue.
Supporters of the Barry Building said there has been some confusion lately as to the survival of the building.
For Diane Caughey, architect and Jungian psychotherapist, “The Barry,” is a “Temenos,” a sacred container for the community. Architect Milton Caughey designed a building with a timeless quality that attracts all ages.
As architect Diane Caughey said in her comprehensive presentation to the Commission: “The building also reflects a local social history of the community through its symbiotic relationship with Dutton’s Brentwood Books since 1984. The relationship created a well-used community gathering place, considered by the neighborhood as an important landmark. Excellent architectural design like the Barry Building invites this kind of close relationship between place and use.”
Working with an historic preservation architect, Mr. Munger has an excellent opportunity to preserve an historic-cultural monument for the citizens of Los Angeles. Making the Barry Building an integral part of a new development project would be a creative solution that deserves attention.