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119 N. Larchmont To be Designated Historic-Cultural Monument

The Cultural Heritage Commission has voted to designate 119 N. Larchmont as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. Photo from the Larchmont Family Fair 2023.

Last week the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission voted to recommend the Los Angeles City Council designate 119 N. Larchmont Boulevard an LA City Historic Cultural Monument.

“119 N. Larchmont Boulevard “exemplifies significant contributions to the broad cultural, economic or social history of the nation, state, city or community” as a rare intact example of early commercial development located along a former streetcar line in the Wilshire area,” according to the staff report prepared by the office of Historic Resources in the City of LA Planning Department.

The two-story commercial and residential building was constructed in 1923. The commercial building was designed by draftsman and architectural designer Hugh Barton Saunders (1878-1975) for owner Albert B. Stephens to be used as ground floor stores with five residential units above. Three garages, also designed by Saunders in 1923, were constructed at the rear of the building but were removed in 1980.

The building retains most of its character-defining features from its period of construction, including its brick, and original second-floor windows. While the first-floor storefronts have changed in appearance, they are still recognizable as storefronts conveying the historic significance of the building as an early 20th-century mixed-use building, retaining design integrity, concluded the report.

The application for the building was prepared by local resident James Dastoli, who told the Buzz he’d been actively researching buildings and even entire neighborhoods for historic preservation.

“I’ve had my eye on Larchmont for some time,” Dastoli told the Buzz. “This building at 119 N. Larchmont is one of just a handful that remains untouched and gives us the connection to the way the street was intended to look 100 years ago.” Dastoli is a digital artist who lives in the Ridgewood-Wilton Historic District.

Just after Dastoli submitted his nomination for the building, the new owner of the building David Lee of Hing Wa Lee Jewelers, a family-owned luxury jewelry store, filed for permits to undertake a major renovation of the interior of the building’s first floor and part of the second floor. The decision by the Commission to further investigate the building effectively stopped work on the project. However, interior construction resumed once Lee and his representatives agreed to work with the Commission staff to preserve the exterior of the building.

The current plan for the exterior restoration of 119 N. Larchmont Blvd. was provided by James Lee.

“It has been great to work with the owner and his architect to ensure that we preserve the building while responding to the needs of a new business,” Dastoli told the Buzz. “This is a win for everyone. Hopefully, this collaboration sets a precedent for future projects on Larchmont.”

“We are happy to be working on preserving this wonderful building,” architect James Lee (no relation to David Lee) told the Buzz after the vote at the Cultural Heritage Commission meeting on December 7, 2023. “We are 90 percent in agreement on the final plans for the front facade of the building. At the same time, we are actively working on the interior of the building so we can open in early Spring 2024.”

The commission staff has asked the Lee construction team to investigate putting the parapet back on the building that was altered in 1957 and eventually removed.

Screenshot from the comedy “Better Behave” filmed on Larchmont in 1928. 119 N. Larchmont is the brick building on the right. The photo shows the parapet before it was removed.

The designation of 119 N. Larchmont Boulevard as a Historic-Cultural Monument will ensure the preservation of the building as an important part of our local history.

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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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