The neon sign near the top of the former Van de Kamp’s bakery in Glassell Park glowed once again in the night sky on Friday for the first time in many years. The sign – a ribbon of white neon against blue lettering – was restored as part of the renovation of the bakery complex into the site of a new school and other government offices. It’s not clear when the sign was turned off on the facade of the 1930s building, a rare example of Dutch Renaissance Revival architecture in the region. A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Community College District, which was in charge of the renovation and the construction of new buildings on the site, said a grand opening is being planned for late September or early October.
The bakery, which supplied a chain bakeries and other markets, closed in 1990, leaving the property near Fletcher Drive and San Fernando Road to decay. After a developer proposed to demolish the landmark bakery for a Home Depot and other stores, nearby residents and preservationists rallied to save the complex. The coalition of residents prevailed over the developer. However, many of those same bakery supporters were angered last year when plans to transform Van de Kamps into a satellite of Los Angeles City College fell through, with the college district deciding to lease the space to a charter school and other agencies. Still, those same neighborhood activists can take credit for saving a unique piece of Los Angeles history and architecture for another generation.