Mount Washington -- The owner of the Southwest Museum says that three dozen potential new owners or operators have stepped forward to run the historic site.
The responses from "non-profit organizations, arts groups, companies, consultants, and community members" came after The Autry Museum of the American West, which took over the Southwest in 2003, announced in April that it was seeking “seeking organizations to propose innovative and financially sustainable concepts” for the 12-acre hillside property.
The Autry did not identify the organizations or community members interested in taking over the Southwest, founded by Charles Lummis in 1913, and the Casa de Adobe, a 1917 replica of a rancho located near the museum on Figueroa Street.
"We’re in the process of following up with many of respondents to discuss their concepts, gather more detailed information, and determine how they align with the key values and priorities outlined in the Request for Interest," said the Autry in a statement issued in response to information from The Eastsider.
New uses for the Southwest Museum
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The concepts, which were to be submitted by June 10, are being reviewed by the Autry in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a Steering Committee of community members and others. "We expect this initial discussion and information-gathering period to continue for the next few months," said the Autry.
In addition to the 36 responses, the County of Los Angeles has also indicated an interest in possibly buying the site.
The Autry has stated that "successful concepts" would most likely combine revenue-generating activities and public and educational programs. Officials said they would be interested in team up with the new owner to develop programs that draw upon on the content of the Southwest Museum.
"The Autry remains dedicated to ﬁnding community-focused and reputable organizations that have the necessary organizational and ﬁnancial capacity to support these important sites, and the commitment to be eﬀective long-term operators and strong project and community partners," according to the statement issued this week.
The Autry has tried before to partner with others to operate the Southwest while battling critics who claimed promises to run the facility as a full-fledged museum were never honored.
Nearly a decade ago, the Autry said it was looking “to team up with partners to develop future programs suitable to the Southwest Museum site.” At one point, Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district once included Mount Washington, approached Occidental College in Eagle Rock about taking over the Southwest. But that never came to pass.
In 2015, the National Trust for Historic Preservation was enlisted to help come up with a new plan to guide the future of the property. But apparently that effort never resulted in a workable solution. The trust, however, remains involved in the current effort to review proposals for the property.