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WHITTIER : Conservancy Honored for Preservation Work

The California Office of Historic Preservation has granted an award to the Whittier Conservancy for its work in restoring and preserving a north side neighborhood.

Conservancy volunteers were honored for their work with residents and city officials to preserve many Victorian and wood-panel homes north of Hadley Street. The group also played a key role in persuading city officials to designate the residential area a historic landmark.

The conservancy received the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. Twelve groups received the award this year out of 40 nominees.

The organization was formed shortly after the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake. The group tried to dissuade owners and builders from demolishing damaged homes and replacing them with apartment buildings and condominiums.

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“We tried to keep people from selling out to developers for quick money after the quake,” said Jeanette McKenna, the organization’s president.

In 1989, the conservancy persuaded the City Council to ban construction of multiple-family dwellings for six months while the quake cleanup continued. McKenna said volunteers also worked with the council and planning commission to develop new zoning and building laws.

Many north side homes, including famed California bungalows, were preserved.

“We wanted to protect the city’s basic aura and the historic nature of the town,” McKenna said.

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