Report on the Conservancy's Work with the SMMUSD
Photo: McKinley Elementary School, 1953
The Conservancy is pleased to report that a new collaborative relationship with the Santa Monica Unified School District has emerged in recent months, leading to a series of meetings that consider the interface between identified historic resources and campus renovation/expansion plans. A team of historic preservation experts from the Conservancy has met with the project architects and SMMUSD staff to evaluate the architectural concepts for each of the campus plans that were established prior to their historic resource assessments, with the goal of reducing any compatibility conflicts and potential controversies during the CEQA process. 
As noted in our prior print newsletter, the SMMUSD adopted new historic preservation policies and procedures early in 2021, in response to discussions with the Conservancy following the controversial demolition of Samohi's History Building. Professional historic preservation consultants then identified historic districts at Grant, McKinley, Roosevelt and Will Rogers Elementary Schools and John Adams Middle School; Franklin School has just one significant resource, the main building. Our new working relationship has been productive in ensuring that historic resources will be recognized and integrated with future facilities changes.
When meetings between the Conservancy and project teams began for McKinley School, project plans and some approval processes were already too far advanced for a comprehensive preservation approach to be implemented. Nonetheless, we are grateful to the architects who were as responsive as possible to our suggestions by making the revisions they could to increase compatibility of the new building with the adjacent historic resources. Through this project both the architect team and the SMMUSD staff have gained an understanding how they can work with the Conservancy to increase protection of their significant historic resources while implementing their primary goal of creating optimal educational facilities.
District staff is deferring plans for Roosevelt Elementary School for further study. Roosevelt was built in 1935 as a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project, exemplifying that style as well as innovations known as the "Santa Monica Plan," in which outdoor patio spaces are integrated with indoor classrooms. Master architects Marsh, Smith & Powell designed the school, with historic additions by Joseph Estep. We note that Conservancy Board member Carolyne Edwards, a former teacher at Roosevelt, years ago created a classroom research project with her students that delved into the history of the school.
Based upon that model and other ideas about how historic preservation can become a teaching tool for project-based-learning, we look forward to further collaboration on educational programs and curriculum. The CEQA process, including public meetings and community input, will continue in fall 2022 and spring 2023. Please stay tuned for information on these public meetings meetings, as they will be an opportunity to assure our community's schools reflect our common goals in education.

Click here and scroll down a bit to see a list of available Historic Resource Reports for five of the district's schools including McKinley.
Recording Available!
Proper Hotel; Photo by Steve Loeper; Howard Laks, Architect; Robert Chattel, Historic Architect
On November 6th the Conservancy presented an information-packed livestream exploring how local adaptive reuse projects help the environment, save the city’s historic heritage and preserve a sense of place and identity.

A recording is now available for those of you who couldn't make the livestream or want to share it with others. Watch to discover:
  • Why the building surrounding Pono Burger has a green palette
  • The inspiration behind the fenestration pattern on the Proper Hotel
  • How two historic houses will be incorporated into an architecture and design museum as part of Gehry Partners' new Ocean Avenue Project
  • And much, much more!
The Conservancy would like to welcome The Georgian Hotel back as a valued Business Sponsor! Developed by businesswoman Rosamond Borde with architect Eugene Durfee in 1933, the beautiful art deco high rise was one of the tallest and most prominent buildings in Santa Monica for decades, earning it the nickname Santa Monica’s First Lady. The hotel was designated a City of Santa Monica landmark in 1995 and is currently a favorite stop on the Conservancy’s Downtown Walking Tour.
Today, new owner BLVD Hospitality (known for their work on the Ace Hotel in Downtown among other projects) alongside ESI Ventures is about to complete a historically inspired refresh of the hotel. The project includes new historically compatible interiors of all guestrooms, suites, public spaces, and restaurants. Downstairs, The Georgian Room restaurant will reopen in the spirit of the original, inspired by information gathered from vintage photographs and archival menus that BLVD has collected. The hotel’s other public spaces are being refreshed through a mixture of historical inspiration and a close look at the art deco movement in Cuba and South America, mixed with the color and style influences of Wes Anderson. 
For BLVD founder Jon Blanchard, who has had his eye on the hotel ever since he moved to Santa Monica, both owning and overseeing the refresh of The Georgian is a dream come true. BLVD co-founder and President Nicolo Rusconi is leading the effort to research the hotel’s deep history and to understand the many stories that the building has to tell. “History is our muse for the Georgian. We are excited to be partnering again with the Santa Monica Conservancy and honored to be part of the Santa Monica community.”
Your Membership sustains the Santa Monica Conservancy! Help us strengthen our voice in historic preservation and grow our community by becoming a new member, renewing your existing membership or sending a gift membership today. Your support sustains the Santa Monica Conservancy. Thank you for your incredible support!
Conservancy Tours & Events
Friday-Monday, from 12-2 p.m.
November 18, 19, 20 & 25-28;
December 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 23, 26 & 30
415 Pacific Coast Highway
Enjoy a free tour led by Conservancy docents and learn about the rich history of the Marion Davies Guest House, which was built by William Randolph Hearst for actress Marion Davies. The hottest spot on Santa Monica’s Gold Coast during the 1920s, guests included Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo. The 20-minute tours are available on a walk-up basis. Learn more
November 19 & 26; December 3
*More December dates will be posted to on 12/1*
Discover the architectural gems and rich history of Downtown Santa Monica on our highly rated guided tour. From Art Deco to Victorian and Romanesque Revival, you’ll explore the various styles that fill the streets of our city. Tours are approximately two hours and cover six blocks. Free for members and $10 for the general public. Register
PRC Stephen Schafer shotgun house
Friday-Sunday, November 25-27
From 12-2 pm
Live Virtual Tour this Weekend
Sunday, November 20 at noon
*December hours will be posted to on 12/1*
Come and visit the last intact shotgun house in Santa Monica this weekend! Discover the journey of this incredible little house, which was saved from demolition and moved–on wheels–three times before being adapted into our modern-day Center. Learn more
Community News & Events
Santa Monica History Museum
*Closing December 23, 2022*
1350 7th Street
Now is your last chance to see this extraordinary exhibition! Visit to learn how residents built Broadway into a flourishing community of color – and how the Interstate 10 freeway destroyed it in the 1960s. Explore the advertisements, oral histories, photographs, and songs from the archival material collected by the Quinn Research Center. Learn more
Reframe’s Youth Art Display
Santa Monica City Hall Lobby
Monday-Friday from 8-5 p.m.
Now through the end of the year
1685 Main Street
SM's Cultural Affairs’ Reframe initiative's current focus is a public process to consider the meaning and impact of the Historic City Hall lobby murals by Stanton Macdonald Wright. In the summer of 2022, the artist and muralist Glenna Avila was commissioned as part of this project to lead workshops with local elementary, middle and high school youth. Students discussed the artworks at Historic City Hall and City Hall East and considered questions about representation and belonging. The result is a collection of original artworks reflecting young people’s thoughts on their home and communities. Learn more
The Living New Deal
Online Archive
Recently the PBS Arts and Culture series "CANVAS" talked with Gray Brechin, founder of the online archive "The Living New Deal." The collection documents the buildings, artworks and more that were created all over the country during the New Deal of the 1930s and 40s. (The same era saw the creation of Santa Monica City Hall's Stanton Macdonald Wright murals.)
Watch the program and Explore the archive
Illuminating Marginalized Stories from the Jim Crow Era in Historic Preservation
Seminar with Dr. Allison Rose Jefferson
Presented by the Society for American Archaeology
December 1, 2:00-4:00 p.m., ET
Email [email protected] to register
Drawing from her research in California, Dr. Jefferson takes a fresh approach to looking at the historical practices of relaxation and recreation for all people at scenic locales connected to the long freedom rights struggle. These places demonstrate a social heritage of action and occupation of space that have implications for broadening the American identity, and for commemorative justice due to reinsertion of the African American experience into landscapes and civic memory where it has been ignored.
We Thank Our Downtown Walking Tour Sponsor
Santa Monica Conservancy

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