Owners Fight Home's Status as Landmark

Times Staff Writer

The Santa Monica Landmarks Commission has designated as a city landmark a 19th-Century Queen Anne-style home once owned by Gussie Moran, a tennis star during the 1940s and '50s.

The current owners of the 1891 house, however, have appealed the designation and will take the case to the City Council. A hearing will be scheduled within 45 days, according to city officials.

The owners, a corporation called 1323 Ocean Inc., opposed the landmark status at a public hearing before the commission last week. Their objection stems from concern that the designation would restrict any plans they might have for the property by requiring approval for any changes to the exterior. They argued that other properties--including the city's only other Queen Anne-style home, at 516 Colorado Ave., and a 1907 home that has been converted to offices at 1333 Ocean Ave.--should be named landmarks instead.

The Friends of the Gussie Moran House sought landmark status for the Victorian home to protect it from demolition or remodeling that would destroy its character, according to spokeswoman Julie Lopez Dad.

Moran was the subject of headlines around the world in 1949 when she wore lace panties to compete at Wimbledon. Her present whereabouts are unknown. Her former residence was purchased earlier this year after she lost it to foreclosure, city officials said.

A city survey reported that the house, in what is now a prime commercial area, had sufficient historic and architectural interest for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

Move Proposed

The corporation has indicated that it is willing to have the house moved from its choice location for repair and restoration, according to Amanda Schachter, assistant planner for the city of Santa Monica. The owners estimate that it would cost $103,000 to repair the home, she said.

Several plans for moving the home were suggested at the hearing, but the commission decided that a separate action will be necessary for the house to be moved.

Regardless of the corporation's appeal, the landmark designation will protect the house by requiring the owners to obtain permission to make exterior changes or demolish it, Schachter said. The commission can protect a property for as long as a year, but after that, the city can impose no further protections.

In December, 1985, for example, a 63-year-old home built by noted Los Angeles architect Donald B. Parkinson was demolished by the owner even though it had been named a city landmark in 1984.

Mark Kalisch, attorney for the owners of the Moran house, has stated publicly that the corporation has no intention of demolishing it, but he said it has not yet made definite plans for the property.

Schachter said the corporation has put the property up for sale.

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