Art curator is dedicated to preservation

Gloria Williams Sander is hoping that her home in Glendale’s North Cumberland Heights neighborhood soon will become a historical district.

With her neighbor Susan Dasso and others, Williams Sander canvassed the neighborhood a few years ago to learn if anyone had any interest in making the neighborhood a historical district.

“The feedback was really positive,” she said.

The area’s homes were built between the 1920s and early 1950s in the styles of Mediterranean Revival, Monterey Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Ranch Style and Minimal Traditional.

For her, the neighborhood’s openness and uniformity of scale represents “the best of a certain moment in history.” The neighborhood’s beauty lured Williams Sander and her husband there in 1998 from Silver Lake.

Williams Sander is familiar with beauty. She’s a curator at Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum, where she has worked since 1987 shortly after earning her master’s in art history at USC.

“The best thing about Gloria is she knows so much about art, yet she is so happy to share it in a way that does not make you feel you don’t know anything, even though, really, I know nothing about it,” she said. “She makes art enjoyable and she’s so open to accepting all different kinds of art,” said Betty Astor, a friend.

While Williams Sander does not consider herself an artist, her husband is a painter. And for her family of three, including their son Ian, Glendale is a blessing.

And though she’s put considerable effort into lobbying for North Cumberland Heights to become a historical district, it’s been worth it, she said.

“You get the sense that it was a neighborhood that was established in a period of time that reflects the growth of Glendale and the larger San Fernando area,” she said. “There’s every reason for it to have the same kind of recognition, acknowledgement and respect as other areas. If you look at the Adams Square area and other beautiful neighborhoods closer to downtown, there are reasons they’re conserved and they’re prized.”

According to Jay Platt of the Historic Preservation Commission, for North Cumberland Heights to become a historical district, the city needs to see support from more than 50% of the area’s property owners.

“They’ve got a lot of support,” Platt said. “We haven’t heard from people who might not want a district.”

Royal Boulevard, Cottage Grove and Ard Eevin Highlands encompass Glendale’s three historical districts. They achieved that designation in 2008 or later.

Tammi Relyea, who served as lead applicant when she worked to make her Ard Eevin Highlands neighborhood a historic district, said of Williams Sander, “I always feel I need to celebrate that we have such great resources in Glendale,” she said. “And Gloria is one of them.”

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