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Mansion Moves Out Ahead of Wrecker’s Ball

Times Staff Writer

It became official Thursday afternoon. Los Angeles Historic Landmark No. 167 was saved from the wrecker’s ball.

After nearly 11 months of frantic efforts, the once-stately Edward Strong mansion, a reminder of downtown Los Angeles’ Victorian past, was towed away from its site of 102 years on West 15th Street, where it stood in the way of a $390-million expansion of the Convention Center.

The slow move to the mansion’s new site, near MacArthur Park, was to be completed by this morning.

“I feel great!” said preservationist Jay Rounds as the blue-and-white three-story structure creaked past him. “Now it’s time to go back to work and save another building.”

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Rounds, executive director of the Los Angeles Conservancy, was among those who gushed and fussed over the Strong mansion’s relocation during ceremonies presided over by Mayor Tom Bradley. Barbara Kaiser, manager of the Convention Center expansion project, motioned excitedly to friends to snap a picture of her as the structure moved past.

“Why not?” she asked. “This building got saved.”

Excitement over the mansion, however, wasn’t always there.

No Takers

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Last year, Kaiser and other officials of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency could find no takers for the residence, which was declared a landmark in 1976 because of its unique Queen Anne architecture in the Caribbean style. It was one of two major Victorian structures remaining in the downtown area. (The other is in Angelino Heights.)

It could not stay where it was because of the expansion work. And the expense of moving and renovating the deteriorating building--ranging up to $1.4 million--discouraged potential buyers, Kaiser said.

With demolition less than 30 days away, The Times reported on the concerns over the mansion’s fate. Shortly thereafter, the mayor’s office formed a committee to save the home, city officials said.

The CRA agreed to provide a $500,000 low-interest loan to move and rehabilitate the mansion--named for salesman Edward Strong, who moved into the house in 1887--and the Department of Water and Power offered a new site in the 800 block of South Coronado Street, near MacArthur Park.

“It shows what can happen when various agencies work together,” Kaiser said.

The mansion, after refurbishing is completed next spring, will be converted into a small six-unit apartment house for low-income families. It will be operated by the L.A. Family Housing Corp., a private, nonprofit group that operates nearly 250 low-income housing units in Los Angeles.


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