At a regular West Hollywood city council meeting on Monday, May 2, 2022, the city council moved to consent agenda item 5.A., and then tabled the item which looks to adopt a resolution to initiate local cultural resource designation proceedings for the 1924 brick building at 7900-06 Santa Monica Boulevard. Council decided to table the item to the next council meeting on council meeting on May 16, 2022, to give City Staff time to engage the property owner/s on the city’s intent to designate their building.
If passed, City staff will go through the city’s cultural resource designation process, which includes staff reviewing the nomination and bringing the nomination to the Historic Preservation Commission for review and consideration.
The building located at 7900-06 Santa Monica Boulevard is a two-story commercial building in the 20th Century Commercial style with Classical Revival influences. Built in 1924, the building is also home to an historical 3-sided clock facing the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. The clock stopped operating 20 or so years ago.
Council member John D’Amico asked that item 5.A be moved to consent even though he later revealed that he wasn’t very impressed with the structure. “I do believe that clock is quite dear, but I don’t think it’s an overwhelmingly wonderful version of that kind of building,” he said. “It’s sort of a run-of-the-mill commercial structure along what was Route 66, built out of bricks and clay tiles.”
Later in the meeting council member Lindsey Horvath requested that the item be tabled until the next meeting to give city staff time to contact the property owner about the city’s intent to initiate a cultural designation to their building and give the owner an opportunity to speak during public comment.
Retired engineer Guenter Keunecke, a 16-year West Hollywood resident, spoke during public comment about his efforts to get the old clock working again. “On the 13th of February 2015, I initiated The Clock Project on Fairfax and Santa Monica Boulevard, which is a wonderful old historic clock that hasn’t been running in the last 20 years,” he said. “I took it upon myself to initiate something to make it work again. I talked to a jeweler, and he was supportive, but he could not convince the owners to finance the clock repair. It has been by now a seven-year effort on my part to get this clock repaired and get the financing for it.”
The building at 7900-06 Santa Monica Boulevard dates to the Town of Sherman before it changed its name to West Hollywood in 1925. The construction of stores and offices in that style helped Sherman expand beyond its old borders and into its new role as West Hollywood. Commercial buildings along historic streetcar lines such as Santa Monica Boulevard reflect the pedestrian-friendly corridors these lines engendered. Because these buildings were built before automobiles were common, they do not have parking lots and their compact scale and continuous store frontage reflect a public that accessed commercial buildings on foot.
This building is part of a “Santa Monica Boulevard Commercial Grouping” that was surveyed in the City’s first Historic Resources Survey adopted in 1987. According to the 1987 Survey: “The south side of the 7900 block of Santa Monica contains four buildings which form an intact streetscape illustrative of vernacular commercial architecture in the 1920s and 1930s. Variations on two styles are represented, Classical Revival influenced and Spanish Colonial Revival.” Although there have been some alterations, the block is “notable for its relative integrity and good condition.”
Editor’s note: The article was updated to reflect that item 5.A was tabled to the next council meeting after it was initially moved to consent during the consent portion of the meeting.