A reflection of the past to return to Highland Park landmark

David Judson holds prismatic glass tile that came from the Highland Park Masonic Temple. Building owner Hector Cruz looks on.

After getting in trouble over violating historic preservation laws, the owner  the landmark Highland Park Masonic Temple has turned to a  nearby glass studio to recreate the historic windows that he removed from the building earlier this summer.

Hundreds of four-inch squares of prismatic glass, which are used by reflect and direct sunlight into dark building interiors,  from the former masonic temple are now being cleaned and prepared to be mounted in new transom windows. The work is being performed at Judson Studios,  where artisans have created and repaired stained and specialty glass  for decades.

The upper strip of windows made from old, prismatic glass were replaced with new, fixed glass.

City  inspectors in June ordered  the owner of the approximately 90-year-old brick building at the corner of Figueroa Street and Avenue 56 to halt work on a project that had removed a strip of prismatic glass  that ran above the  plate glass windows on the ground floor.  Owner Hector Cruz said he removed eight windows – each measuring  six-feet wide by nearly three-feet high – because the glass panes and the zinc frame were in danger of falling apart, posing a safety hazard.

The windows were removed from the building, listed on the National Register of  Historic Places, as newly elected Councilman Gil Cedillo was preparing to open a district field office in the same structure, which had also housed as his campaign office. The  opening of the field office was been delayed until the dispute over the historic windows was cleared up.

The councilman “would not like to move in until [the restoration of the windows] are done,” said a member of his staff today during a tour at Judson Studios.

Cruz, who was also on hand today for the tour, said he had saved the hundreds of  prismatic panes because he eventually wanted to restore the windows. In the meantime, he had installed clear, fixed glass to replace the original prismatic glass, a decision which violated city historic preservation laws.

David Judson, the fifth generation of his family to own the studio, said it might take about a month before the eight windows  are finished.  While Cedillo’s field office may be open before then, a council staffer said a grand opening would not be held under the original windows were put back in place.

Cruz said he’s still not sure how much it will cost to repair the eight prismatic  windows,  but he said he is committed to eventually repair and restore a total of 24 similar windows that wrap around the exterior of the building.

“It’s a work in progress,” Cruz said, “but we have Judson Studios to help us.”

Prismatic glass being cleaned

David Judson holds up a section of the prismatic glass windows.

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