Sunday, October 23, 2016

El Sereno historic district comes up for review

Homes in the proposed historic district | Nathan Solis

EL SERENO ––  The Cultural Heritage Commission is scheduled to review a proposal later this week to create the neighborhood’s first historic district that would protect several blocks dotted with Craftsman-style homes and other historic buildings.

Some of the first structures in the proposed El Sereno-Berkshire Craftsman District were built more than a century ago as the area grew in popularity with the expansion of the Pacific Electric Railway lines. The mostly residential district in the northeast part of El Sereno includes homes on Berkshire Avenue, Berkshire Drive, Atlas Street and adjacent avenues. Today, stone retaining walls and palm trees that tower over homes built in the Craftsman, Spanish Colonial and other styles reflect the time when El Sereno was an emerging streetcar suburb. From a design standpoint, this area is more similar to South Pasadena than the rest of El Sereno, with prominent homes created by architects who worked primarily in Pasadena.

“The majority of buildings retain their historic design and features representative of their architectural style and period of development, in large part as a testament to their quality, craftsmanship, and maintenance,” according to a Planning Department report that recommends creating the historic zone.

The historic district has the support of Councilman Jose Huizar as well as preservationists. But not everyone is a fan of the district, which would require that any exterior changes be reviewed and approved by a district board.  One property owner, for example, wanted buildings along Huntington Drive removed from the proposed district because it would make it difficult to make changes, according to the Planning Department report.  However, city staff said that the 18 properties on Huntington Drive should remain in the zone because they are “essential” to the district and would serve as the “face” of the district because of their location on the busy street.

In addition to being reviewed by the Cultural Heritage Commission on Thursday, Aug. 4, the  El Sereno – Berkshire Craftsman District would also need to be reviewed and approved by Planning Commission and City Council.

Historic district boundaries | Planning Department

Historic district boundaries | Planning Department

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