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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