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On the Town: History supporters raise the roof at 1926 home

On the Town: History supporters raise the roof at 1926 home
Taking a break from touring the Villa Farinacci are Historical Society members and Glendale residents Nancy Michael and husband Michael Bain. (Photo by Ruth Sowby Rands)

"You are invited to a festive evening of Italian-inspired cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, live music and a silent auction." So read the invitation to the Glendale Historical Society's 2015 Gala & Benefit. The party more than lived up to expectations.

The Villa Farinacci in Glendale was the site of the merry-making on Saturday. The Italianate-style, 4,551-square-foot residence was built in 1926 by local contractor Antonio Farinacci. But on this occasion, for 150 guests, it was the scene for fundraising, sipping, supping and congratulating.

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To be congratulated were awar d recipients Victoria and Scott Lasken with the 2015 Volunteer Award. They regularly donate their photography and graphic design talents to the society.

Also recognized was a building — the Irving Air Chute Co. building at 1500 Flower St. The 2015 Preservation Award was given to the building's owner, Weston Cookler, in recognition of his outstanding restoration and rehabilitation of what was originally a 1929 Art Deco brick structure designed by architect Henry Gogerty, who also designed the historic Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale.

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Guests were invited to tour the Villa Farinacci, now owned by Tatevik and Vartan Achabahian, also the hosts of the gala. While maintaining the character of the original house, "We brought 1920s glamour to an Italianate house," Vartan Achabahian said.

The restoration included importing Italian marble for the interior. The Achabahians have lived in the house for 11/2 years.

Taking advantage of the tour were Glendale residents Nancy Michael and husband, Michael Bain. Both are society members. They stopped off at the bar that would not have been present in the house during the Prohibition era. At that time, a "rumpus room" in the basement may have been the scene of illegal drinking parties, which could be conducted with allowances made for quick exits in the event of a police raid. That juicy bit of gossip was provided by building biographer, Tim Gregory.

Glendale City Council members present enjoying a touch of the legal stuff were Paula Devine and her ever-lovin' Art, Laura Friedman and husband, Guillaume Lemoine, Vartan Gharpetian and Zareh Sinanyan.

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Historical society officers present were President Greg Grammer, board members Laura Cook, Marcia Hanford, Steven Hunt and Vrej Mardian.

Sean Bersell, the historical society's executive director, also played genial host.

More Glendale VIPs and society members attending were News-Press columnist Katherine Yamada and husband, Glenn. Katherine Yamada has been a society member since 1979. The Yamadas' guests were Valerie and Bruce Merritt.

At the silent auction, bidding was vigorous for a $250 dinner for two at the Americana at Brand's Bourbon Steak. Also popular were framed vintage black-and-white images of Glendale.

The photos of three long-gone Brand Boulevard theaters represented the Glendale Theatre, the California Theatre and Young's Capitol Theatre. The triptych of photographs was valued at $170. Elissa Glickman, chief executive of Glendale Arts, had her eye on the prize. She appreciated the history of all the theaters including Young's Capitol, which opened in 1931 at 139 S. Brand. It was later known as the UA Capitol. Damaged in the Northridge earthquake, the theater was eventually demolished.

Before their carriages turned into pumpkins, guests departed looking forward to next year's historical party.

Proceeds from the Gala & Benefit will go to the Glendale Historical Society's endowment and preservation funds. The Glendale Historical Society is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization with more than 600 members dedicated to the preservation of Glendale's history and architectural heritage.

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RUTH SOWBY RANDS may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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