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Three sites added to Glendale's historic register; Masonic Temple given Mills Act designation

Three sites added to Glendale's historic register; Masonic Temple given Mills Act designation
The Adams Mini Park Gas Station was added to the Glendale Register of Historic Resources on Tuesday. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

The Adams Mini Park Gas Station and a pair of Glendale homes — including one once belonging to a former boxing great — were added to the Glendale Register of Historic Resources on Tuesday, while the owner of the Depression-era Masonic Temple on Brand Boulevard received a property tax break for agreeing to preserve the property.

Americana at Brand owner Rick Caruso bought the nine-story building earlier this year and is nearing a restoration process to convert it into office space.

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Since the masons held secretive meetings, many rooms didn't have windows, resulting in an uneven pattern on both sides of the building.

One of the most visible changes during the renovation was realigning the windows. That kind of change for adaptive reuse is permitted by federal guidelines, said Jay Platt, a senior urban designer for the city.

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"You want it to look different. You want to avoid what's called a false sense of history," he told the council prior to its 5-0 vote to give the temple Mills Act designation. "We want new work to look like new work and old work to look old."

Councilwoman Laura Friedman, agreed with the assessment, saying the Masonic Temple sat as a near-idle eyesore for decades.

"[Caruso's] doing something really incredible," she said. "To give Mills Act Relief to do this grand scale renovation is what the Mills Act is all about."

Americana at Brand owner Rick Caruso bought the nine-story Masonic Temple on Brand Boulevard earlier this year and is nearing a restoration process to convert it into office space.
Americana at Brand owner Rick Caruso bought the nine-story Masonic Temple on Brand Boulevard earlier this year and is nearing a restoration process to convert it into office space. (Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer)

The only opponents during the application process — which first began with support from the Historic Preservation Commission — were members of the Glendale Historical Society.

In several letters, they stated the changes to the temple were too significant and said the same exceptions would not have been made for a private homeowner seeking Mills Act designation.

Platt, however, said things were different in this case.

"I agree, no homeowner would be allowed to do something like this. A single-family home was built to stay a single-family home, but they're changing use ...from [a] very specific club function to a standard modern office space," he said.

The Mills Act approval comes with four conditions Caruso needs to comply with, including adhering to a maintenance plan.

It's unknown at this time how much money Caruso would save in property taxes, but it would be significant, said City Manager Scott Ochoa.

Commercial Realtor CBRE is expected to start moving in by the end of the year.

In a separate vote, the city-owned Adams Square Mini Park, which houses an old gas station redone as a gallery for temporary art exhibits, was added to the local historic register.

A 1920s-era Tudor revival home at 2312 Blanchard Dr. that once belonged to former boxing heavyweight champion Jess Willard was also included.

The Willard House, as it's called, is the third local home owned by a sports celebrity. A Grandview Avenue home once owned by former New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel won the designation as did the former residence of world champion wrestler Ed Lewis.

A third property at 1330 Romulus Dr. satisfied the architectural criterion for inclusion on the register due to its modern style, Platt said.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian

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