Heritage Square declared historic landmark

The City Council earlier this month declared Heritage Square, the open-air Montecito Heights museum dotted with fanciful Victorian-era homes and buildings, a city historic cultural monument.  While many of the buildings visible from the 110 Freeway are landmarks in their own right, the City Council’s action designates the entire museum grounds, a narrow strip of land leased from the city, a historic landmark. The museum applied for landmark status earlier this year in part to get around building and safety codes that would have required it to construct  a parking lot in the middle of museum grounds as part of a new drug store exhibit.

The museum, which is dedicated to telling the story of Los Angeles’ early development, explained the importance of being designated a historic landmark:

As an important cultural resource for the community, the designation as a Historic Cultural Landmark will protect the museum and secure the integrity of the site that will ensure the museum’s ability to protect its architectural and historical accuracy.


  1. Wait, this wasn’t a historical landmark already?

  2. Seems it should have been one already.

  3. Heritage Square is a great example of where the emerging field of historic preservation was in the 1960s and ’70s. Unlike many similar museums, it has remained a vital part of the community with an evolving program of interpretation and restoration.

    In the face of the vast urban renewal projects underway at the time, many cities moved iconic or endangered buildings to new sites to become house museums. With many of these sites now nearing 50 years of age, it makes sense to start assessing them on their own merits as historic landmarks.

    Sometimes derided today as “architectural petting zoos”, outdoor museums like Heritage Square saved many buildings that would otherwise have been lost to the massive upheavals of urban renewal. Today, in part because of awareness created by museums like these, there is a greater public appreciation for historic structures and more land-use tools available to help keep historic buildings on their original sites as “living” parts of the community.

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