L.A. Conservancy awards preservation projects


By restoring some 1920s bungalow courts slated for demolition, the Hollywood Community Housing Corp. created homes for low-income people with special needs. Now that work is being recognized with a Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Award.

The Hollywood Bungalow Courts project is one of eight that the conservancy recognized. One other residential project, the Rudolph Schindler Bubeshko Apartments in Silver Lake, also was honored.

In Hollywood, three bungalow courts on Serrano Avenue were to be replaced with condominiums, but the Community Redevelopment Agency stepped in, and they were spared, along with a bungalow court on Kingsley Drive. All were Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival in style, with central courtyards.

Original details, including pull-down tables, were kept. Some units were adapted for wheelchair access, and all of them were updated and repaired.

The final tenant in the 42 units moved in Monday. The four properties now are home to some residents who had been chronically homeless and are HIV-positive or have AIDS, and 11 of the units are occupied by low-income people who had been tenants before the renovation, said Bill Harris, executive director of the housing corporation.

Harris said the original residents in the 1920s were likely single people and couples who worked at film studios and would have known and watched out for one another. And that’s the atmosphere the agency hopes to create today.

“When you step out your front door and your neighbor is right there, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to say good morning,” Harris said.

Harris’ agency had been honored previously by the conservancy for its work at the former Palomar Hotel in Hollywood and another bungalow court project.

The two buildings that make up the Bubeshko Apartments in Silver Lake were built for Anastasia Bubeshko and her daughter, Luby, in 1938 and 1941, and the pair lived there and derived rental income for six decades. The buildings were a gathering place for artists and musicians, including the sculptor Gordon Newell, whose work remains above a garage at the site.

When Madeleine Brand, a contributor to The Times’ Home section, and her husband, Joe DeMarie, wanted to buy the buildings in 2005, they worked with the architectural firm DSH, one of the firm’s partners, Eric Haas, said Wednesday.

DeMarie and Haas went to the Schindler archive in Santa Barbara to research the property. Word got back to Luby Bubeshko, and she was “flattered” and “relieved” that the buildings would be well cared for, Haas said.

“We were very fortunate because the buildings were in fairly good shape,” though they showed the wear and tear of 60-plus years of tenants, Haas said.

“A lot of work and a lot of our research was about color. Schindler wasn’t a gleaming white Modernist,” said Haas, who described the colors in the units as dusty and earthy.

“We have a theory that he was very sensitive to the atmosphere of Los Angeles,” said Haas, who worked with his partner, architect Chava Danielson, and DeMarie, who was the contractor.

The award-winning projects are selected by an independent jury of experts from architecture, preservation and community development. The others cited are Bob’s Big Boy Broiler in Downey; the Annenberg Community Beach House at the Santa Monica State Beach; the Japanese Pioneer Memorial in Lancaster; the National Recognition of Historic Resources Associated with African Americans in Los Angeles; the SurveyLA Public Participation Program; and the Walker House in San Dimas.

The awards will be presented at a lunch on May 13.