Driftwood Dairy, El Monte, CA

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Chrisgreen
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Driftwood Dairy, El Monte, CA

Postby Chrisgreen » Tue Aug 14, 2007 5:20 pm

As discussed in our July 2007 Modcom meeting, the incredible googie DRIFTWOOD drive-in dairy is threatened!

A friend of mine has been talking with someone who works for the dairy who prefers to remain anonymous, and they say the new owners are definitely planning big changes and demolition, and it's only a matter of time until it happens. We also got some information on the company that now owns the Driftwood Dairy:
http://www.marwit.com/investments2b_driftwood.html

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The dairy is located at:
10724 Lower Azusa Road, El Monte, CA 91731

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Last edited by Chrisgreen on Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Lynxwiler
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Postby Lynxwiler » Tue Aug 14, 2007 8:56 pm

This place is incredible! What a tragedy!

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Doesn't

Postby modfan » Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:34 pm

sound good-a buyout company. Seems to me it's one of those ones who fire everyone, offshore everything and then sell off the remaining crumbs, not to mention destroy everything significant, like this structure.

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Driftwood Dairy, El Monte, CA

Postby Chrisgreen » Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:14 am

Not exactly, but from what I hear this company is known for taking over companies, streamlining them, and getting rid of fat. And I'm sure they think there are much more profitable ways of using that corner than a huge fifties drive through. The plan as we understand it calls for a new structure with a small drive-in dairy, plus a Starbucks and perhaps a Panda Express chinese place. Basically, a mini-mall.

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Seems like....

Postby modfan » Wed Aug 15, 2007 12:35 pm

there could be an ingenious way to put that all under that arch-that would look so cool---of course they probably are not even thinking of that, but one can hope....

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Dan O.
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Postby Dan O. » Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:17 pm

That dairy was one of the few remaining nostalgic holdouts that said "idllyic suburb" and served as a friendly reminder that places like El Monte weren't always a nasty, dirty, congested mess. Kind of conjured up visions of wide-open undeveloped spaces and orange groves "as far as the eye could see.." Of course the current reality is that every square inch of property everywhere must be maximized for profit, which mean another eyesore of one type or another.

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Postby Lynxwiler » Mon Aug 20, 2007 9:52 pm

I just went today and it's in better condition than I thought. I was told that the backlit plastic signage is all in working order too. The arch even has a long, curved backlit plastic piece that lights up at its edge very night. I'll have to go back and see if I can catch that.

The Driftwood Dairy is a joy.

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Postby FinFan » Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:34 am

Wow...I knew there were drive-in banks, but didn't knew 1950's moved that far as to create a drive in dairy... ***

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Seems like

Postby modfan » Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:35 am

And ideal structure to do something like Lautner's Garcia residence only retail, that would be cool.

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Postby zombie289 » Mon Aug 27, 2007 4:34 pm

...what a shame...u should see how cool it looks at night....I go past there on the way to bahookas...sad sad sad!
I just woke up from a nitemare....Its 1962 and I've left my wallet at home!

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Postby nichols » Mon Oct 08, 2007 10:14 am

Screamed and almost ran off the road when I saw the new Driftwood logo. Ewwww. Cheap and ratty like a roving carnival ride. That new "Drifty" is so disingenuous. I have no faith in her.
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Postby nichols » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:23 pm

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Postby nichols » Fri Oct 12, 2007 3:55 pm

The founding Nolan family sold Driftwood Dairy to Marwit, a private equity fund in Newport Beach. The latest generation of Nolan's (who still work there) don't sound too fun to deal with either.

http://www.marwit.com/investments2b_driftwood.html

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:tM1 ... cd=4&gl=us

Chrisgreen
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Driftwood Dairy, El Monte, CA

Postby Chrisgreen » Fri Oct 19, 2007 12:45 pm

I went to check on the Driftwood Dairy today. It's OK -- nothing changed. I chatted with an employee who told me that the teardown is on hold -- for now -- because they decided to invest in new delivery trucks first. Good news -- hopefully it buys us some time but I'm not sure how much.

As usual, the place seemed fairly busy, and I saw dairy employees eating lunch at the picnic table in the grassy area underneath the beautiful Driftwood sign.

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Postby Adriene » Wed Oct 24, 2007 3:12 am

Thanks for keeping us updated as we work on this, Chris (and Chris N).

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Driftwood Dairy, El Monte, CA

Postby Chrisgreen » Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:08 pm

A nomination has been submitted at the state level, as discussed at our Modern Committee meeting this week. I hadn't been by the property in a few months, so I did a drive-by today -- with the good news to report that the Dairy is still open for business and is unchanged, although there is a portable building in the parking area that wasn't there until recently.

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Postby nichols » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:40 pm

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Postby nichols » Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:05 pm

Please send a support letter for our nomination of the Driftwood Dairy today.

Written comments may be submitted to
Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA,
State Historic Preservation Officer, Office of Historic Preservation,
Post Office Box 942896
Sacramento, California 94296-0001

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nichols
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Postby nichols » Thu Oct 02, 2008 11:59 am

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Postby nichols » Mon Oct 27, 2008 10:05 pm

A visit to the El Monte Historical Society...

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and their Driftwood collection:
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According to the curator, this brown glass kept added vitamins from spoiling the milk.

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Driftwood Dairy

Postby Chrisgreen » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:23 pm

Outstanding! If there's anywhere in El Monte where the future meets the past, Driftwood Dairy has to be the place!

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Postby nichols » Thu Oct 30, 2008 11:03 pm

Thanks everyone who helped and wrote letters. This is on the nextState historic resources commission agenda in Sacramento for Nov. 7th at 9AM.

Wish us luck.

State Resources Building Auditorium, 1416 9th Street, Sacramento, California.

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Postby Vavala » Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:44 am

http://www.sgvtribune.com/rds_search/ci ... ribune.com

Drive-through dairy nominated for preservation
Driftwood building among last of kind

By Rebecca Kimitch
Staff Writer

San Gabriel Valley Tribune
November 1, 2008

EL MONTE - If the giant rainbow arch doesn't catch your attention, perhaps the Jetsons-era sign, complete with a space needle, will.

The Driftwood Dairy that sits on the corner of Lower Azusa Road and El Monte Avenue is hardly inconspicuous.

But it wasn't always that way.

"It's part of El Monte. Back in those days, it was almost normal," resident Brian Frater said, referring to the 1960s and 1970s when colorful drive-throughs and drive-ins ruled the terrain.

Normal no longer, the Los Angeles Conservancy has nominated the drive-through dairy building for placement on the California Register of Historical Resources.

"(The Driftwood) reflects both the height of space-age design and the influence of the automobile in shaping retail methods and signage," conservancy director of advocacy Mike Buhler said in an e-mailed response to questions.

"Drive-through dairies were once common in Southern California, but there are only a few left, and Driftwood is among the only ones still intact."

But the nomination faces one major hurdle - the owners of Driftwood Dairy don't want their building on any historic register.

They have sent a letter to the California State Historical Resources Commission objecting to the nomination. The commission will consider the nomination Friday.

"We will vigorously fight any effort to continue with the nomination process," Driftwood officials wrote in a letter to the historic commission.

Opposition from the owners alone will keep it off the historic list. But the nine-member commission can instead determine the building is eligible for designation, in this case based on its architecture.

"It's a tough one, it's an amazing piece of architectural heritage, but at the same time you have to hear the owners' concerns," said state historian Jay Correia.

Company CEO Mac Berry would not comment on the opposition.

Building owners will sometimes object to a historic designation for fear it will limit their ability to make modifications or demolish the building.

The drive-through dairy sits on a larger piece of property that is home to the actual Driftwood Dairy operational facilities.

El Monte has not received any requests to modify or demolish the structure, according to Eugene Moy, redevelopment director for the city.

Buhler said the nomination was made because the Los Angeles Conservancy was "concerned about the building's fate." Historic designation is the strongest tool to protect historic structures that are threatened, he said.

"A successful landmark nomination isn't meant to prevent development at the site, but rather to make sure that the environmental review process considers preservation alternatives that retain and reuse the historic structure," he continued.

Placement on the California register would not in itself protect the property. Local city zoning ordinances are what define what placement on the state or national historic registry means in terms of protection or benefit, Correia said.

El Monte does not have any ordinances for properties designated historic. This means that designated structures would fall under regular planning codes, according to Moy.

A permit is typically required for demolition of any building; no specific guidelines exist in El Monte for historic structures, he said.

While the city was one of the first settled in the San Gabriel Valley, and its claim to fame is that it is the end of the Santa Fe Trail, Moy was not aware of any designated historic buildings in the area.

El Monte had dozens of dairies in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, he said, though most did not have the drive-through store.

"That existing store probably dates back to the 1950s or 1960s. That style of architecture is something that developed during the period when automobile culture was really booming. Roadside drive-ins, drive-throughs, motels, all kind of represented the Route 66 era," Moy said.

The Driftwood Dairy was for decades owned by the Dolan family. Mike Dolan purchased it in 1946, following in the footsteps of his father, also a dairyman. In its first month, it grossed $6,800. Today the dairy has more than $100 million in annual sales and sells dairy products to schools, hospitals, and restaurants, according to the company's Web site.

The Historical Resources Commission has seen an increase in the number of 1950s and 1960s era buildings being nominated for preservation.

"There is a real big interest right now, especially in Southern California," Correia said.

But that doesn't mean the nominations have seen success.

"Some people ask, `what are you saving that old junk for?"' he said.

Resident Frater, who was born in Monrovia, disagrees.

"I remember first seeing (the Driftwood) in the 1970s when I was in my 20s; I thought it was great," he said. "Most of these (buildings) have been torn down. I'd like to see this one saved. Its got that El Monte aura."

"Once it's gone, it's gone," he said.

rebecca.kimitch@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2105

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Vavala
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Postby Vavala » Fri Nov 07, 2008 5:20 pm

The State Historical Resources Commission voted unanimously today on the Driftyland Dairy-Port, making an official determination of eligibility for listing in the CA Register of Historical Resources.

Although it is not formally listed in the CA Register because of owner objection, Driftyland Dairy-Port is now considered a historic resource under CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act. Any proposals for redevelopment at the site must consider preservation alternatives that would adaptively reuse this space age icon.

This successful nomination sets an important precedent for recent past structures throughout California, and for El Monte, which has yet to enact a historic preservation ordinance.

Thank you to everyone who helped to protect this irreplaceable piece of LA County history!

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Postby nichols » Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:13 pm

It was a great day at the State Historic Resources Commission. A really great fire station in Riverside was landmarked just before we were up. Mike Buhler from the Conservancy office and Theresa Grimes, our consultant who prepared the nomination both spoke as did Charlene and myself.
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Thanks Mike!

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nichols
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Postby nichols » Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:18 pm

Incidentally, the last words from the commissioners on this was: "Thank you very much for bringing this to us. It's a great resource."

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Postby Adriene » Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:31 pm

This is another significant accomplishment for the Modcom and the Conservancy, and as Marcello said, sets an important precedent for modern resources. I loved that we were able to make this a truly collaborative effort and invited everyone to participate in researching and writing letters of support. Thank you all for caring and helping us to successfully qualify this truly one-of-a-kind space age icon!

Time for a trip out to see Drifty and celebrate with cocktails afterward at the Bahooka!

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nichols
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Postby nichols » Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:44 pm

L.A.'s Space-Age Drive-Through Makes History
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Jan. 5, 2008
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The Driftwood Dairy-Port, built in 1962, is not protected by local laws because El Monte, Calif., lacks a preservation ordinance.


Credit: Adriene Biondo
A smiling cow has lured drivers to the Googie-style Driftwood Dairy-Port in El Monte, Calif., since 1961. Now the drive-through milk store and grocery is officially eligible for the state register of historic places...

http://www.preservationnation.org/magaz ... -port.html

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nichols
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Postby nichols » Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:09 am

Check out Sarah Stephens' great painting of the Driftwood Dairy

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http://www.sarahstephensillustration.com/

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nichols
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Postby nichols » Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:16 pm

Last Tuesday the Driftwood Dairy chopped off the top third of this sign. We're investigating.

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