Highland Park preservationists rally to save a Googie-style supermarket

There are not many stand-out examples of mid-century modern buildings in the Highland Park area, which is better known for its wood-sided Craftsman bungalows and Arts- And-Crafts era  architecture.  That’s why the former Shoppers Market, now a Superior supermarket,  at Figueroa Street at Avenue 45  near the southern tip of Highland Park stands out. Built in 1960, the nearly 34,000-square foot building  was designed by architect Ronald Cleveland, who worked on more than 100 supermarkets, in what some refer to as the  Googie Style of architecture, which was popular among the builders of coffee shops and other commercial buildings of the era.

When Highland Park preservationists found out that Superior Grocers was planning to revamp the building’s mid-century style with a Neo-Craftsman design, they jumped into action. As a result,  Councilman Ed Reyes is calling for the building to be considered a city historic landmark to help preserve its Googie style. The City Council motion introduced by Reyes says:

The former Shoppers Market Building located at 133 W. Avenue 45  in Highland Park, is one of the few surviving intact examples of Googie Style architecture supermarkets left in Southern California, as virtually all of its contemporaries have been remodeled into other styles or demolished. Superior Markets, the current operator of this market is planning on remodeling it into a Neo-Craftsman design  in spite of the wishes of many in the community and the Highland Park Heritage Trust  that the historic facade be retained and restored.

This is not the first time Highland Park preservationists have organized an effort to save a mid-century supermarket. In 2009,  the swooping facade of a former Safeway market, now an El Super, was preserved under pressure from the Highland Park Heritage Trust and other groups.

“HPHT has been active about the preservation of Post-War and Modern resources and the now rare Googie-style architecture of this commercial resource deserves consideration as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument,” said Charles J. Fisher, board member HPHT and local historian.

The Reyes motion, if adopted by the City Council, would begin the process of nominating the Superior market building as a city Historic Cultural Monument, which would require that any changes to its historic features be reviewed and approved by the Cultural Heritage Commission.

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