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Beverly Hills News – Cultural Heritage Commission to Consider Lawn-Bowling Green, Mid-Century Apartments and Spanish Colonial Revival

Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2016 – 11:15 AM

By Victoria Talbot

The Beverly Hills Cultural Heritage Commission will meet Wednesday for the preliminary hearing for the inclusion as a local landmark for the Lawn Bowling Green at Roxbury Park, and to discuss the initiation of nomination proceedings for a mid-Century modern apartment building and a single-family Spanish Colonial Revival home on San Ysidro Drive.

The Lawn Bowling Green Landmark nomination was rejected by Recreation and Parks Commissioners, chaired by Frances Bilak, at a meeting June 24. Though the historic property represents a vital element of early Beverly Hills history, commissioners expressed concerns that the historic participation of Walt Disney as a lawn-bowler was inconsequential – because he was not a resident of Beverly Hills. Neither are most of the members of today’s Lawn Bowling Club. The Recreation and Parks Commission felt that a commemorative plaque would be sufficient to mark the City’s historic Lawn Bowling Green instead.

The fact is that most of the resources offered by the City of Beverly Hills are utilized by non-residents, from day-camps to senior care. Disney lived in Beverly Hills and moved to Holmby Hills, endowing a monumental Lawn Bowling trophy that is still in use today. Emblazoned with Mickey Mouse, the annual Walt Disney Masters International Singles Tournament draws top bowlers from around the world. That has made this green famous world-wide. 

The Lawn Bowling Green #1 is one of three originally built for the new Roxbury Park in 1929. A Spanish Revival clubhouse was a community gathering place for residents and club members, businessmen, retirees, and the general public. Designed by Harry Koerner and William Gage, the architects of City Hall, the building was damaged in an earthquake and demolished in the 1980s. The new clubhouse bears little resemblance to the one that was so welcoming for so many decades.

Lawn Bowling Green #3 was lost to a sand volleyball court, and #2 is used for croquet. The Recreation and Parks Commission would like to keep #1 from being landmarked because they may wish to use it for a basketball court. They also say, however, that they want to preserve green space. 

It is expected that the designation will be recommended to a liaison committee meeting with the two commissions to resolve the issues.

The 8-unit apartment building at 328 S. Rexford Drive is a Mid-century Modern built in 1956 by designer/architect/developer Jules G. Salkin, AIA. It would be the second multi-family building on the roster of historic places, if it is designated. The first was a C.W. Raymond apartment building at 9379 Olympic Blvd. called the Beverly Gardens Apartments, which was designated Landmark #23 June 2014.

The two-story building includes a wide stucco facade covered in decorative horizontal panels separated by banks of short vertical wood strips recessed within the panels. There is a tripartite window with large elongated metal address numbers in period-appropriate typeface, and an aluminum brushed canned bullet lamp attached to the lower horizontal pane. at the north end. A planter box includes period-appropriate lava rocks, bird of paradise plants and tree ferns. It is the quintessential 50’s-style apartment building.

The preliminary evaluation shows that the building is potentially eligible based on its age, aesthetic embodiment of the distinctive architectural style of the period, continued historic value and because the owners agreed to the designation.

The Spanish Colonial Revival at 1119 San Ysidro Drive is also being considered for designation. The 1927 home was originally designed by architect Stephen Goosson (1889-1973). A student of the Ecole des Beaux Artes in Paris, Goosson had a career in the motion picture industry as an art director and set designer, nominated for five Academy Awards, including in 1937 when he was nominated for art direction for the film “Lost Horizon.” 

The Cultural Heritage Commission is also being asked to consider the placement of a plaque commemorating the Tongva Indians, memorialized on the Electric Fountain in Beverly Gardens Park. The Recreation and Parks Commission approved a plaque design that would read:

City of Beverly Hills
Kneeling Tongva Native American Indian
Designed by Robert Merrell Gage – 1931
Dates of Plaque Installation

The Tongva Native American Indian in prayer on top of the Electric Fountain is symbolic of an Indian rain prayer. It pays homage to the areas’s early inhabitants whose settlements, dating back to the 1500s. were along the streams that flowed from the canyons, now known as Benedict, Coldwater and Franklin.

Settling here gave the Tongva Native American Indian tribes year-long access to fresh, flowing water without being too far from the marshy flood plain, which contained a rich supply of plants and animals that sustained them. The Tongva Native American Indians considered this site sacred and named it “Gathering of the Waters”. Tongva Native American Indians lived a peaceful agrarian life, rich in family and feasts. 

There are currently 32 Local Landmarks designated. The Cultural Heritage Commission regular meeting will be held Wednesday, July 13 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 280-A at City Hall.

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