The Venice Historical Society is coming to the rescue of the historic colonnades on Windward Avenue, with the help of universally famous author and former Venice resident Ray Bradbury.
The colonnades formerly lined both sides of Windward in emulation of the colonnades at St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. Portions of the colonnade have disappeared over the years, due to lack of maintenance and private construction. Where there were once 60 columns, there are now only 25.
The Ray Bradbury Adopt-A-Colonnade Restoration Project will restore the columns along the first block of Windward Avenue. The restoration necessitates the making of molds from the existing columns and capitals. The estimated cost per column is about $7000.
Official fundraising efforts kicked off on July 31 with a party at Venice’s Electric Lodge. Guests enjoyed a myriad of refreshments including a fountain of chocolate fondue and both pink and white champagne. While Bradbury signed copies of his books, provided by Vagabond Books of Pacific Palisades, guests bid on silent auction items like a stained-glass bowl, gift baskets, DVDs of the 1980s anthology show Ray Bradbury Theatre, and by far the most popular items-vintage bank notes from the Bank of Venice, circa 1906 and 1917. One bank note was a 1906 check for a month’s rent of Number 7 Breeze Avenue-for a whopping $43.25.
VHS president Jill Prestup announced that Adopt-A-Colonnade is “an ongoing project.” The society will accept $2500 “Martian Chronicle” donations, for which the donor will receive a plaque on a column restored through the donation, and $250 “Fahrenheit 451” donations, which will be honored with plaques on walls or rocks. (Smaller amounts are also okay). Fundraising will also be done through the sale of gift items such as a unique throw blanket decorated with 15 scenes of Venice.
Mark Antonio Grant, special assistant to Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, put in an appearance in lieu of Rosendahl, who was recovering from surgery. “What bothers me about Los Angeles,” Grant said, “is that when something gets old, they tear it down. That is not the case with Venice. Venice wants to preserve its character and community. You [Venice residents] are really what makes democracy work.”
Bradbury, who lived in Venice in the 1940s, wrote his early works (such as The Martian Chronicles) while living in a small building on Venice Boulevard. His fiction has used Venice locales, including the canals, and has drawn inspiration from the colorful real-life characters of the beach area. He has been a steady supporter of the Venice Historical Society and has made the initial donation to start the colonnade fund.
Speaking briefly before a screening of the episode “Banshee” from Ray Bradbury Theatre, Bradbury told the guests that his next project will be “to get the statue of Myrna Loy back in front of Venice High School. She should be where she belongs.”
For more information, and to make a donation, go to venicehistorical.org.