Mendota Block, which was constructed in 1913 as an early commercial brick building on Main Street, received the Restoration Award.

Santa Monica Conservancy hosts annual Preservation Awards

By Holly Jenvey

The Santa Monica Conservancy recently hosted its Annual Meeting & Preservation Awards via Zoom, where attendees learned about historically significant structures in the community.

Six awards were presented in the following categories: Restoration, Rehabilitation, Renovation, Adaptive Reuse and Stewardship. Since 2004, the Santa Monica Conservancy has bestowed these awards upon individuals, building owners and businesses who give notable contributions that preserve the community’s architectural and cultural heritage.

“Each year, there are incredible examples that we find of historic preservation across all these types of work,” said David Kaplan, a Board Member of the Santa Monica Conservancy who is also on the Awards Committee.

One of the awards presented was the Cultural Resource Award, which went to the Belmar History + Art project. It provides a timeline of how the area developed and the racial impact. In the late 19th century, the first African Americans settled in Santa Monica. By the early 20th century African Americans lived in the neighborhoods by Philips Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church at 4th and Bay Streets, north of Santa Monica High School and in the Belmar Triangle, which is now occupied by the Civic Auditorium and new park.

However, as Santa Monica developed, these areas began to disappear due to discriminatory policies. In the 1950s, the Belmar neighborhood was demolished for the construction of the Civic Center. However, the history of Belmar was revitalized by an outdoor exhibition, which is located at the new sports field at Pico Boulevard and 4th Street.

Created by artist April Banks and historian Alison Rose Jefferson, Ph.D., the project features sculptural work, “A Resurrection in Four Stanzas’’, which is accompanied by interpretive story panels, described in a site guide in English and Spanish. The project was partially inspired by the California’s Coastal Commission’s initiative to implement equality and social equity into the coastal zone. It was also funded by the City’s Percent for Art Program.

The Stewardship Award went to Bob Burchman and Kathy Solomon for the rehabilitation of their 1912 home on Maple Street. The home is considered to be one of the few Craftsman houses in Sunset Park. Solomon and Burchman purchased the home in 1997, which has undergone changes throughout the years.They were given undated historic photos of the home, which was in unsteady condition.

Burchman and Solomon removed the stucco and encased it with the original shingles. They also rebuilt the porch stairs and pillars in their original location. Most of the features that were repaired were on the exterior, but Bob used his expertise in detailed painting to create unique decorations for several rooms. The rehabilitation of their home represents the spirit of the Craftsman aesthetic.

Another structure that sought to maintain its historical significance was the Mendota Block. Winning the Restoration Award, the Mendota Block regained historic authenticity of the building, mirroring what it looked like when it was first constructed.

“[The Mendota Block] has shed its own skin and emerged like a butterfly from its cocoon,” said Ruthann Leher, who presented the award.
Located at 2663 Main Street, the early distinctive 20th century building is a rare survivor of early commercial architecture. The Mendota Block was designated as a landmark in 2014 as its 1913 construction still was notable.

However, when Red Car purchased it in 2018, the building underwent a historic preservation assessment. This resulted in the removal of false historical elements and recovery of its true character. Much paint was removed to reveal its unique brick color, and wood storefronts and double hung windows were also restored.

The garden apartment complex at 423-429 Ocean Avenue received a Rehabilitation award, also safeguarding its historical style.

“An excellent example of American Colonial Revival style for a garden apartment complex that faces the ocean in Santa Monica,” Kaplan said.

The complex consists of three two-story multifamily buildings, which were arranged in a U-shaped configuration. The structure was constructed in 1936, a wing was added in 1950, and it was designated a landmark in 2006.

Over the past 15 years, the garden-complex received proposals for demolition and partial demolition due to long deferred maintenance. However, Nina Properties began refurbishment and rehabilitation to existing buildings, refining the exterior, upgrading utilities, and more. William Foster, who designed the complex, also designed the Pilgrim Lutheran Church on Wilshire Boulevard.

The Hotel Hart/Mar Vista Hotel and Apartments received the Rehabilitation and Adaptive Reuse Award, and was converted to a commercial office space. The three-story golden Renaissance Revival-style Hotel and apartments were constructed in 1914 and played a significant role in Santa Monica’s resort community.

Located at 1305 2nd Street, the hotel was rehabilitated in a preservative way to maintain its historic appearance while being able to serve other purposes. Even as the structure maintained landmark status in 2009, it received new amenities with a resurfaced parking lot with land around it, along with other fixtures.

2518-2522B on 4th Street also received a Rehabilitation Award. The Spanish Colonial Triplex, which was constructed in 1936, came to the Santa Monica Conservancy’s attention in 2018 because a demolition application had been filed. The challenge for the triplex was to obtain structural stabilization.

XYZ Rents performed a comprehensive rehabilitation, nursing the colonial home back to health. Repairs were made inside and out, including replacing wood, updating plumbing and electric systems, cutting shrubs, and three feet was added to the basement unit. The rehabilitation took two years to complete and the property maintained its historic materials and design.