Landmark protection sought for Silver Lake Craftsman threatened by development

1109 Coronado Terrace | City of Los Angeles

1109 Coronado Terrace | Historic Cultural Monument Application, City of Los Angeles

SILVER LAKE — An effort to save a 104-year-old Craftsman home on Coronado Terrace from demolition and development has moved forward after city staff recommended that the building be declared a historic landmark.

The city’s Cultural Heritage Commission is scheduled to vote on the recommendation on Thursday, Dec. 4 a few weeks after the owners of the house at 1109 Coronado Terrace asked commissioners to delay a decision. The historic landmark application submitted by Council District 13 says the house that sits on a bluff high over Sunset Boulevard is threatened with demolition to make way for a proposed small-lot housing development on the corner lot.

The house is currently fenced off and is in shabby shape, with peeling paint and its arroyo stone retaining walls often the target of taggers. But those stone retaining walls, which can also be found on neighboring properties on Coronado and Sunset, are one of the  key reasons that make the 1910 home worth preserving, according to the historic monument application. The home, one of the first built in the Rowland Heights Tract, sits in what city planners call The Coronado Planning District, which is defined by a “rare and largely-intact concentration of arroyo stone retaining walls … that produce a uniform street scape and distinctive sense of place.”

The tract took shape after landowner George H. Smith, who had long opposed the grading of the nearby bluffs, deeded nearby land to the city to allow for the creation of what is now Sunset Boulevard. Says the landmark application:

The house  at 1109 Coronado Terrace embodies an example of early real estate development practices in the northwest area of central Los Angeles, now part of Silver Lake. The repeated use of arroyo stone throughout the property and surrounding streets provides the district with a sense of distinctive unity and cohesion.”

If the commission votes in favor of declaring the home a landmark, the decision must then be review and approved by the City Council.


  1. so why don’t they just ask the developer to keep the wall? If it’s in a good enough condition to satisfy ladbs, what developer in their right mind would redo it voluntarily?

    Also that’s a fairly small lot. How many homes are they proposing? Even the small lot subdivision rules wouldn’t permit many structures on that lot… Are these people protesting before seeing plans?

  2. Let’s just hope this beautiful house doesn’t go up in flames.
    Aren’t there enough empty lots for these cheap & greedy small lot shoeboxes?

  3. Since I can’t resist the bait… Most small craftsman homes were cheap prefab – as in $1000-3000 from the Sears catalogue. And most were shoeboxes (Webster’s def. “a small home”) compared to small lot homes.

    • No, most bungalows like this were built by builders from planbooks or their own design. Fewer were pre-cut like from Pacific Ready Cut or kits like Sears.

      Small house on a big(ish) lot. The opposite of what’s done today but sounds good to me.

    • You’re thinking of kit houses. We live in one, tiny but we love it. Craftsman houses can be quite big.

  4. As a landlord, I applaud the NIMBYS pushing this additional red tape for creating more housing. Thank you. Now I can confident in raising my rents.

  5. Arroyo Stone walls can easily be replicated. I just replaced a portion of the one in front of my house. Landmark designation is just another hammer in the toolbox of NIMBYs, and fools go along for the ride.

  6. Benjamin Le Clear

    It’s a great house on a unique lot. I live on the street and it’s been sad to see how this house has been deliberately neglected, for what seems to have been the purpose of destroying it and taking financial advantage of it’s large lot. It’s a corner lot – so you’d be losing a huge amount of wall on not just 1, but 2 streets. It’s a huge lot and destruction of the wall and the sloping lot it sits on would be a tremendous loss to the block. There also isn’t room on Coronado Terrace for any more cars – that’s not being NIMBY – it’s just a fact of the street being built so narrow that it doesn’t allow for 2 way traffic.

  7. This is a beautiful example of a solid Craftsman home. Even the homeowner’s purposeful neglect of this house cannot destroy its timeless grace. A soul-less small lot development with no yard, no sense of single-family orientation— simply can’t hold a candle to a home like this.

    DEVELOPER: Fix it up and turn a profit that way!! Maybe you won’t make a million, but you might make a hundred thousand. Since I’m sure that profit margin insults you, why don’t you flip it as-is to someone who actually cares about preserving a beautiful piece of history and go build your small lot in Eagle Rock or Glassell Park.

    @Kyle Watson: Arroyo Stone walls are not easily replicated because they are not up to code. Its perfectly within code to *repair* an Arroyo wall. If the wall is retaining a slope, a full block wall and footing (built to current code) must be excavated and installed behind the Arroyo wall. This is cost prohibitive to the developer and requires extra grading permits, setback problems as the wall eats up buildable area, and extra costly labor to reconstruct the wall.

  8. I am always concerned when history is taken down so easily and carelessly. Sure it is 100 years old now but that is the purpose… to hold onto the integrity of a neighborhood. Continuing to destroy these buildings and landmarks in no way helps a city keep its roots and history. There are plenty of places in Los Angeles that are available to build your 6 unit townhouse complex, so I beg you, go find that lot and build there. Leave this neighborhood and its integrity alone.

  9. This small lot was already developed 104 years ago, when someone built this beautiful craftsman.

    Tearing it down to build yet another dreadful “modern” mess will constitute Small Lot Degradation, not Small Lot Development.

    Ignore our history and it’ll go away.

  10. I’m rooting for the “NIMBY’s” on this one… it’s a lovely block, totally worth preserving IMHO.

    That said, LA does have a serious housing shortage, and we need a significant amount of infill development in the flats to get a head of the curve.

    Luckily, there’s no shortage of surface parking lots, tacky strip malls and crackerbox apartments that would hardly be missed if property owners decided to replace them with mixed-use midrises.

    • The “nimbys” won. Thanks for the vote of support.

      The commission agreed that the house on it’s own wasn’t particularly special, but in the context of the entire tract developed over a number of years by a well known developer of the era, it was significant. Especially since the tract demonstrates the range of middle class homes at that time, and a cohesion of archetectural elements.

      Perhaps most interestingly, the house was considered to have particular merit because it does not have a driveway or garage, and it has a nicely finished secondary entrance that is directly adjacent to a path leading to sunset. Its assumed the owners of this more humble home relied primarily on the railcar system.

      • So does this mean that anyone will actually fix the home up? Or will it just continue to rot from neglect? I mean, I’m all for the neighbors being able to maintain the history of the neighborhood, but history without context for the present state of things can have some unfortunate results for the community. What’s supposed to be done with this historic wall if it just falls apart over the next 10-15 years because no one can afford to fix it up for a profit, thus leaving it to rot away?

  11. Didn’t think my comment to this story was that out of line to not be posted.

    I’m sensing an agenda here, but that’s your right as editor.


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