Preserving Craig Ellwood's Manhattan Beach Bank Building

ARCHITECTURE AND PRESERVATION NEWS for the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee (ModCom) and other Mid Century Modern, Googie, International, Art Deco, 20th Century design

Moderators: I_LUV_POWER!!!!, Joe, Adriene, moderns-r-us, Tony, Futura Girl, sean, Josh Geidel, nichols, Java

User avatar
dherber
Modern Groupie
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:05 pm
Location: Cardiff by the Sea CA
Contact:

Preserving Craig Ellwood's Manhattan Beach Bank Building

Postby dherber » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:37 pm

I would like to find out the steps or procedures necessary to declare a mid-century commercial building to be declared a "landmark"?

I'm a huge fan of mid-century architecture and buildings that really "pushed the envelope" in design when they were being studied for feasibility and eventually built. Craig Ellwood was a noteworthy "architect" who designed a number of these projects in Southern California. Like Frank Gehry, Craig was an artist by profession but had an eye for incredible architecture. He had a small staff of registered architects who took his visions and developed the construction documents for having these eventually built. He was voted one of the "three best architects of 1957" along with Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe.

Long story short, I met with the current bank manager of one such building that Craig Ellwood designed and had built in 1958. The bank is on the corner of 18th Street and Sepulveda in Manhattan Beach. The manager was a little curious why I took such an interest in the current Citizen's Bank building as I had my Nikon camera in my hands. He said that a number of local residents wanted "something done to the exterior" to "bring it up to current standards". The bank is looking into perhaps demolishing the front of the building.

This bank is prominently featured in the book "California Modern: The Architecture of Craig Ellwood". http://www.amazon.com/California-Mod...711982&sr=1-20

The book is excellent for anyone remotely interested in mid-century architecture. I read it from cover to cover. I also had a chance earlier in my architectural sales career to work with Philo Jacobson. Little did I know that Philo was Craig Ellwood's "right hand man". Philo passed away about three years ago. This bank is one of Craig's commercial projects, but his residential architecture was light years ahead of anything being built. I realize that "I'm preaching to the choir" on your excellent site and realize many of you are fans of Craig Ellwood's as well. I apologize for any ignorance on my part.

How would a person start the process of declaring a building a historical landmark? It would be a shame to see this building fall into the hands of a demolition crew or wrecking ball.

I've attached a couple of pictures of this building. (I'm sorry, I haven't uploaded these to a URL yet. They are all in the computer. I have to figure out how to get these uploaded somewhere...)

Many thanks,
Dave

User avatar
nichols
Lotta Living Host
Lotta Living Host
Posts: 9337
Joined: Wed Oct 16, 2002 1:16 pm
Location: The wooded highlands of Altadena, Calif.

Postby nichols » Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:18 pm

Image
(flickr)
Many thanks from the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee for following the issues down in Manhattan Beach. If I have the right one, that's a great bank. You can nominate a building for landmark status at the city, state or federal level. Manhattan Beach has a relatively new preservation ordinance, but it appears as if the building owner must make the application.

http://municipalcodes.lexisnexis.com/codes/manhattanb/
Chapter 10.86 CULTURALLY SIGNIFICANT LANDMARKS

If this is accurate, you might consider nominating it at the state level.
http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/

This is typically more complex than a local nomination and requires "exceptional significance" if a building is less than 50 years old.

Please come join us at the next ModCom meeting on October 20. We can put this item on our agenda and we'd love to work with you on it.

Thanks again.
Image
(flickr)

User avatar
Vavala
Modern Master
Posts: 117
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 12:17 pm
Location: Brentwood

Postby Vavala » Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:07 am

Hello Dave,

You’ll want to get in touch with the Manhattan Beach Cultural Heritage Conservancy (which, despite its name, is not a non-profit organization but a city appointed task force). The MBCH Conservancy was formed in November 2006, with the goal of increasing public awareness of city cultural and architectural heritage. They get involved in the community and encourage local landmark designation (which is currently a purely honorary status that does not provide protection). The Conservancy also urges the owners of locally designated properties to support CA Register designation of their properties, which the Conservancy prepares as well.

The MBCH Conservancy is well aware of the Ellwood Bank’s significance and MBCH Conservancy member Jan Dennis, who has written extensively on the architectural history of Manhattan Beach, most recently profiled it in her book Shadows on the Dunes: An Architectural History of Manhattan Beach, California.

Manhattan Beach’s historic preservation ordinance, while it does allow for local landmark designation, is not written to provide protection at this time. Local landmark designation is purely honorary and does not prevent a building from being remodeled or demolished. However, it’s an important step that Manhattan Beach has taken to get something on the books, and they will likely amend it with some protections in the future.

The MBCH Conservancy strategy has been to meet with owners, get them interested to list their building as a local landmark, and then go one step further and work on a nomination to the CA Register of Historical Resources. They would surely appreciate any assistance and collaboration. You should definitely get in touch with them to coordinate your interest with their ongoing advocacy efforts.

To get in touch with the MBCH Conservancy, contact:

Jan Dennis
310-372-8520

Thanks for your interest and keep us updated!

Marcello Vavala
Preservation Associate
Los Angeles Conservancy
213-430-4217
mvavala@laconservancy.org

User avatar
dherber
Modern Groupie
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:05 pm
Location: Cardiff by the Sea CA
Contact:

Postby dherber » Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:53 am

Thanks for the comments! Yes, the photos are the original 1958 Ellwood Bank Building. Mine are similar and I will be posting them once I can get them uploaded to an online source.

I received a call yesterday from Jan Dennis from the Manhattan Beach Conservancy. I'm going to call her this afternoon to discuss how I can be of help to her regarding how to "save" this building from the clutches of a demolition crew.

The bank branch manager has no idea of the history of the building other than "it looks dated" etc. I think he's more interested in getting more foot-traffic into his bank than realizing that this is a very unique building that was done by a very prominent architect. I'd really hate to see this get covered by stucco or worse yet, get demolished.

I will welcome any other thoughts on how to try and protect this and really appreciate you taking time to comment.

Best,
Dave

User avatar
dherber
Modern Groupie
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2007 6:05 pm
Location: Cardiff by the Sea CA
Contact:

Postby dherber » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:58 pm

Here are a couple of pictures that I took of the bank three days ago. Sorry that I couldn't upload them previously.

Image

Image

Image


Return to “Mid Century Modern Preservation Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests