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Former Silver Lake gas station moves closer to becoming a historic landmark — and keeping bulldozers away [updated]

By BARRY LANK

 Silver Lake  — A former Silver Lake gas station to a step closer to becoming a historic monument after being recommended for approval by City Hall staff.

The report from the Planning Department called the old Precision Motors service station at 1650 Silver Lake Blvd. “a rare, surviving example of an automobile commercial development from the 1940s.”

The Cultural Heritage Commission is scheduled to  decide to take the recommendation under consideration and decide whether or not to declare the building a historic cultural monument at their meeting on Thursday.  If the City Council gives its final approval, then plans to replace the former Texaco station with a three-story building with a mix of apartments and commercial space would be much more difficult to accomplish.

According to the Planning Department, the station was built in 1941. As of 1953, there were three gas stations at that corner. The other two are now gone, but this one continued to serve as a gas station until 1988, when it was converted into an automotive repair shop.

The building was designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, who had been charged with giving Texaco stations a fresh, clean, unified brand image. He designed the building in a Streamline Moderne architectural style of curving forms and long horizontal lines, with white porcelain enamel and green stripes.

This was in an era when gas stations had offices and full service garages attached, when attendants pumped your gas for you, washed your windows and checked your oil. According to the planning report, this building style began to vanish when self-service stations came into vogue.

The Planning Department also noted that the building has experienced few alterations, though all the old Texaco signage and gas pumps have been removed. The lighting was also updated at some point.

A similar attempt to save another Streamline Moderne-style gas station in Silver Lake failed 10 years ago, when preservationists and residents could not stop the demolition of a station at Glendale Boulevard and Rowena Avenue. A developer is now building three homes on the site.

Update: The Cultural Heritage Commission voted in favor of declaring the building a historic monument.

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10 comments

  1. Awesome. Preservation of a run-down, old formula-style retail building instead of 14 units of housing for our neighbors. Glad we have our priorities straight in Silver Lake.

    • I work in development, I know we need more housing, I know we need more mixture of uses, higher density and better mobility solutions. BUT I’d rather see this building saved and incorporated into a new project than to see another characterless box on the property.

      I have no idea what the eventual project would have looked like, but the entire region has a terrible track record for destroying decent / good buildings and replacing them with cheap garbage buildings.

      I think we can find hundreds of more suitable properties for 14 units within a 2 mile radius of this building.

  2. Unbelieveable. This property looks like a junkyard and we’re in a housing crisis. Yet another example of failure of leadership in the community.

    • this is my mechanic and he is wonderful. its places and people like him who make the neighborhood charming.

  3. *eyeroll emoji

  4. Interesting spin on housing crises, where in this story does it say property will be build with affordable house to address this crisis ??
    Instead the developers will suck every inch it can out of the property and then deposit at least 42 more DWP Trash/Green and Blue recycling trash can on the boulevard.

    • We need to construct housing of all types and at all income levels. We have too little of all of it. The costs to construct any new housing, especially in an expensive, mature area such as this, are so high that the units invariably will be priced at the higher end of the market on a price per square foot basis. Creating roadblocks for every project by making the process into a drawn-out fight over preservation, just as one example, is a part of why it is so expensive to build new housing in places like Silver Lake.

  5. Yeah, this is nuts. This building is a junkyard and a waste of valuable real estate. Mitch O’Farrell lost my vote. It was his office that recommended it to the cultural commission (see the same article on curbed).

    • Apparantly a vote for Mitch O’Farrell is a vote for rusty chainlink fences and horribly neglected properties. How nice of him to listen to the few constituents on the fringes while ignoring reasonable voices in the neighborhood. Not only will he NOT get my vote, he’s just created a volunter who will campaign for his oppostition in the next election.

  6. I don’t care if they turn it into affordable housing, or retail, or a church. I don’t even care if they keep it as is. But granting historical status to this eyesore is stupid. The only way I get behind historical status, is if they (they? Who’s they?) throw a crap ton of money at it and restore it to some semblance cool architecture worthy of preserving. As-is…who care?

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