The building that formerly housed Callahan’s and is now home to a hip diner is up for Landmark designation.
The decades old diner closed on New Year’s Eve and reopened as Ingo’s Tasty Diner, a farm-to-table restaurant, in April. Vienna Pastry remains inside the other half of the building.
The landowners, who also own the new restaurant, nominated the Wilshire Boulevard property for City Landmark status, a designation that would make it harder to alter or demolish the building. The Landmark Commission will consider the nomination at its meeting tonight.
In order to be considered for Landmark status, a property must meet one of six criteria set forth in Santa Monica’s law. The Callahan’s property meets two of those six criteria, according to City Hall’s historical consultant, who recommends the designation.
Built in 1946 by an unknown architect and contractor, the structure includes significant aspects of Streamline Moderne style, which was popular the decade prior.
Examples are “the curving forms and predominant long horizontal lines combined with modern materials like aluminum and glass,” the consultant said in its report. “The design was meant to suggest a sense of motion evocative of the advancements in modern transportation technology.”
The geometric shapes on the terrazzo floor are associated with Art Deco and Streamline Monderne.
The building exemplifies, symbolizes, or manifests elements of the cultural, social, economic, political or architectural history of the city, according to the consultant, the first of City Hall’s six criteria.
It was built during a time of great growth in Santa Monica, following World War II, when industrial work was booming and a housing shortage was being corrected.
“Callahan’s location on Wilshire Boulevard, away from the hotels along Ocean Avenue and the tourist attracting pier, indicate that the restaurant most likely served the growing local community as opposed to the weekend travelers and vacationing out-of-towners,” the report said. “Callahan’s Restaurant provided a social space where local families could purchase an affordable meal.”
It also hits the fourth criterion by embodying distinguishing architectural characteristics valuable to a study of a period, style, method of construction, or the use of indigenous materials or craftsmanship, or is a unique or rare example of an architectural design, detail or historical type valuable to such a study.
“Callahan’s Restaurant is a rare intact example of a post-war era diner, embodying the changing attitudes toward family dining as working class families became more prosperous,” the consultant said.
Numerous neon signs have adorned the corner building, which is now white and green, including “Grove’s Bakery” and, currently, the word “Restaurant.”
At least 114 structures have been designated as City Landmarks since landmarking began in 1975. At least three of those were demolished. Another seven building have been designated as Structures of Merit, with one designation nullified months later.