Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Atwater residents seek to block housing development with a piece of wallpaper history

Former wallpaper showroom | Douglas Hill

Former wallpaper showroom | Douglas Hill

ATWATER VILLAGE —  Albert Van Luit made a name for himself in the wallpaper business, founding California’s first wallpaper manufacturing company  and developing a new way to print the wall coverings.  He built a factory and showroom in the north end of Atwater surrounded by horse barns and corrals.  The firm moved out in the late 1970s but Van Luit’s International-style showroom and “daylight factory” still stand. Now, the buildings have been nominated as historic landmarks as a developer plans to build 60 townhomes on the site.

The city’s Cultural Heritage Commission is scheduled today to decide whether or not to take the nomination of the Albert Van Luit Complex under consideration.  Department staff have recommended that they should at least consider the application. Declaring the buildings historic cultural monuments would make it more challenging to have them torn down or altered.

The nomination was submitted by Atwater Village Always. The group is opposed to plans by the family of developer-turned-philanthropist Morton La Kretz to build what would be one of the neighborhood’s single, largest residential developments on the approximately three-acre property located on Chevy Chase Drive near the L.A. River.

Says the nomination:

“The Albert Van Luit Complex qualifies as a local Historic Cultural Monument as architectural type specimens for the daylight factory style and the International Style for a commercial building. They are also important for the association with Albert Van Luit and his innovations in the wallpaper industry after World War II, as well as the showroom being a significant work by the master architect Edward A. Killingsworth.

The factory is now used for storage and the showroom for office space, according to the nomination.

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  1. It’d be nice if we had a better idea of where this place was located besides “the north end of Atwater Village”. I drive through there everyday and have no clue where this place is.,

    Maybe an address or a map?


  2. Don’t want to live near development, then don’t live in LA. You like it here and obviously so do others.

  3. Years ago many of my neighbors and I fought a development in North Atwater and won. What I learned at that time was that developers had their eyes on the horse properties that abut the river. These properties give North Atwater its distinctive character. I love watching the police walk their horses down Brunswick, heading back to their barn. It’s wonderful to watch people exercising their horses in the paddocks as I walk along the river. My fear about the proposed development is that it will be the finger hold for the developers to grab those horse properties and destroy this equestrian oasis right in the middle of Los Angeles.

  4. So these were not cultural landmarks…until a developer wanted to build some houses, and then suddenly it gets nominated? Sorry, it shouldn’t work that way. Also, an old wallpaper factory that’s being used for storage just isn’t that special. A city can’t be preserved in amber (unless its Brugges)

    • RdeS, I believe historic cultural nominations work this way more often than not. When a community realizes they might lose something of value, there are few alternatives for preservation other than seeking a historic designation. If you go to the links and read further, you’ll learn it isn’t just “an old wallpaper factory,” it’s a significant piece of post war LA history. No doubt there were individuals who dismissed the historic significance of the Bradbury building in the ’70’s when it was deemed historically worthy both nationally and locally. It’s a matter of perspective, and certainly yours is as valid as any. Keep in mind however that everything new becomes old, and if we tear down everything old we live without a sense of time and place that history provides. LA needs to hold on to its history as much as possible. So much has already been destroyed.

  5. Great effort! Yes, this should be a historic monument. Thanks to those who are putting in the effort on this.

    FYI- historic designation doesn’t mean no development. It just means they might have to incorporate the structure into a new development. Oh my! How un-american to burden our beloved developer with such frivolity.

    For all you kool-aid guzzling density boosters– there is no luxury housing crisis!!! Screwing up an equestrian area so some developer can profit building a housing product that we DO NOT need more of. Really? There is no trickle down. The only by product of this development mania is a bit more competition within the lux housing market. It’s not like some developer who built luxury units is going to suddenly cut the price in half so that low income folks can live there.

    Put down the kool aid and go take that Econ 101 class again.

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