Group Seeks to Preserve 2 Craftsman Homes

Times Staff Writer

A group of Highland Park residents is organizing to preserve two early-1900s California Craftsman homes that a developer wants to tear down and replace with a 10-unit apartment building.

The homes, at 4967 and 4973 Figueroa St., are part of "Professors' Row," a group of dwellings built for Occidental College faculty members, according to residents.

About 30 residents will meet with Los Angeles Councilman Richard Alatorre and the prospective developer, Derek Ma of Monterey Park, to discuss how the homes could be saved from demolition.

"We're hoping that . . . Mr. Ma will see an advantage to keeping the structures as they are. If he chooses not to do this, we don't know what we'll do at this point," said Jeanmarie Hance, Alatorre's planning deputy.

'Historical Overlay'

Residents said they would like to see their entire street designated a "historical overlay" zone, like Heritage Square or Carroll Avenue in northeast Los Angeles. To obtain the designation, they must first submit to the city's Cultural Heritage Commission a complete history of the homes, their architectural significance and photos.

If the commission decides to consider the designation, it can ask the city's Department of Building and Safety to issue a 60-day stop-work order that would prohibit the developer from proceeding with demolition, according to commission spokeswoman Nancy Fernandez.

The property is now owned by Maria L. Hudson of Pasadena, whose sale of the property to Ma is in escrow.

Diane Alexander, a member of the Highland Park Heritage Trust, said the threatened demolition of the two bungalows illustrates a dilemma for much of Highland Park. Residents of single-family homes want to maintain the quaint, old-town flavor of the area, but many lots, including those on which the California Craftsman homes sit, are zoned for apartments.

Margaret Herivel, who has owned a Craftsman house next to the endangered homes for 34 years, said she wants to preserve what remains of the street's historic character. There are two apartment buildings on the street now.

"If they tear those houses down, you can't rebuild them," Herivel said.

Craftsman homes take their name from the arts-and-crafts movement that was popular in Pasadena at the turn of the century.

Named for the Tustins

The homes slated for development are on a terrace just north of North Figueroa Street, Highland Park's main thoroughfare. According to Herivel, one home, the Tustin house, is named for the family that founded the city of Tustin.

Katherine Walter, an illustrator who recently bought the oldest home on the street, an 1892 bungalow built with arroyo stone, hardwood floors and cedar paneling, said many homes in the area are being bought by young couples interested in restoration.

"I love this area. Most of the people . . . moved to the area because they love the homes and want to fix them up," Walter said.

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