Building that houses Dutton’s bookstore given landmark status

Times Staff Writer

To the cheers of Brentwood residents, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to grant landmark status to the San Vicente Boulevard building that houses Dutton’s Brentwood Books and has served as a community gathering spot for decades.

The designation was approved on a 14-0 vote and was unopposed by Charles T. Munger, the property’s billionaire owner. It paves the way for a 180-day period during which the developer and residents can try to negotiate a compromise that could preserve portions of the mid-20th-century structure and, many bibliophiles hope, Dutton’s itself.

The designation does not prevent the owner from developing the property or even demolishing the building. But it creates a review process. If the owner requests a permit for demolition or substantial alteration, he would be required to go through an environmental review process.

Among the three dozen supporters in council chambers were Michael Silverblatt, host of the “Bookworm” program on KCRW-FM (89.9), and actress Donna Mills, who told the council: “It’s really important for our children to know we value our history.”


Activists had campaigned for months to gain historic-cultural monument status for the 56-year-old building, which features a courtyard and curved stairways. Leading the charge was Diane Caughey, a Jungian psychotherapist and architect whose late father, Milton, designed the structure.

Her effort began after Munger revealed in January plans to replace the Barry Building with a mixed-use development featuring shops and luxury condos -- and a spot for a bookstore. After encountering strong community resistance, Munger shifted to talk of a smaller retail complex similar to the Brentwood Country Mart.

Attorney William Delvac represented Munger, who did not attend. Delvac drew gasps from the audience when he said Munger would no longer oppose the designation.

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a staunch proponent of the designation, said he hoped the two sides could resolve their issues. “I appreciate everybody’s attitude about a win-win-win,” Rosendahl said.