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Wilshire Vista Neighbors Hope to Save 1054 S. Orange Grove Ave. from Demolition

Jose and Joy Eballor with Doug James and Phoenix the cat, hope to secure Historic-Cultural Monument status for this French Revival duplex in Wilshire Vista and save it from demolition.

Neighbors and the current residents of this French Revival (Norman) duplex built in 1937 are trying to save the building from demolition by the new owners, who are proposing to build a five-story apartment building. At the request of neighbors, CD10 Councilmember Herb Wesson introduced a motion last fall to designate the building a Historic Cultural Monument.

The property, known as the Walter Bollenbacher Duplex, was identified as an architectural resource in SurveyLA, the City’s Historic Resources Survey. A hearing on the application before the Cultural Heritage Commission is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at City Hall (200 North Spring Street) on the 10th Floor in Room 1010.

Doug James, a nearby neighbor, started the effort to save the building from demolition when he learned the new owner had planned to build a five-story, 16-unit building that would dramatically alter the character of the block of two story apartment homes built in the 1920s.

“We are very hopeful that we will secure monument status for this building because of its central location on the block that makes it a keystone, vital to the legacy, integrity, and cohesion of a beautiful and historic neighborhood currently proposed as National Registry of Historic Places Historic District,” James told the Buzz.  “We have already received 70 emails of support on our website.”

In recent years, other streets in the neighborhood have seen large scale projects come in and alter the cohesive look of the neighborhood. Recently, neighbors banded together in an effort to secure a National Register historic designation for the neighborhood. Until that designation is secured, however, the City of LA’s Historic-Cultural Monument ordinance is only option available to neighbors to save specific buildings. But the designation process takes time and presumes residents can gather support for an individual nomination in time to stave off demolition.

This building replaced a small bungalow on South Spaulding Avenue two blocks east of Orange Grove in Wilshire Vista.

Residents of the building Joy and Jose Eballar have lived there for more than six years and consider the building their home. Joy takes care of the roses in front, which were planted by the parents of the owners, who recently sold the building.

According to Eballar, the parents lived in the building until they passed away, then left the property to their two sons. One son and his family lived in the building until the recent sale. James, who lives next door, offered to keep the family’s cat, Phoenix, himself a senior citizen, whom everyone seemed to think would not enjoy moving. James told the Buzz the family that sold the duplex was stunned to learn it would be torn down, and one of the sons will be speaking in support of the monument application at the hearing next month.

Phoenix suns himself among the old roses in the front yard of 1054 S. Orange Grove Avenue

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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