HIGHLAND PARK — The city’s Recreation & Parks Department will begin negotiating with Occidental College to have the school manage and restore the Lummis Home, one of the Northeast L.A.’s most important historic landmarks that is in need of repairs and renovation.
The Board of Recreation & Parks Commissioners on Wednesday authorized city staff to negotiate a “partnership agreement” with the Eagle Rock college to takeover the more than century-old Lummis Home, the two-story house built out of arroyo stones by Charles Fletcher Lummis, a journalist and civic activist who help establish the nearby Southwest Museum.
Late last year, the Recreation and Parks Department began looking for a new organization to operate the city-owned Lummis site after failing to reach an agreement with the Southern California Historical Society, which has occupied and managed the property for nearly half a century.
But after seeking proposals from different organizations to operate and restore the property, only one organization made an official offer: Occidental College. However, Recreation and Parks determined it would be better to reject that offer and negotiate a different, exclusive agreement with Occidental, according to a staff report.
The Southern California Historical Society is scheduled to leave the Lummis Home at the end of the year, leaving the city to handle its operation and care. That puts the department under additional pressure to quickly find a group to take over the property. Says the staff report:
Upon the Society leaving the Lummis Home at the end of 2014, the Department would be responsible for the maintenance and security … The Department would have to hire additional staff in order to provide tours of the Lummis Home and develop and implement a marketing plan in order to generate revenue to sustain the operation.
It is therefore more economical to secure these services through a private organization that would assume all costs of operation and maintenance in exchange for exclusive long-term use.
The Eastsider has contacted Occidental College to find out what it has in mind for the Lummis Home and how much it will invest in the property.
* Update: Occidental College spokesman Jim Tranquada provided the following statement in response to the commission’s vote:
We think this is a remarkable opportunity and we look forward to working with Recreation and Parks and our community partners to see if we can develop an agreement that will not only restore the fabric of the house but also its role as a cultural center for Northeast LA and the city as a whole.
The college’s response to the city’s request for proposals includes its concept for the creation of an Institute for the History of Los Angeles,” a center for study of Los Angeles history and culture with special emphasis on the diverse communities of Northeast Los Angeles and the larger city.”