Standing on 20th Street in the Pico neighborhood is a white two-story building with bow windows on both sides of the recessed entryway and light-green shutters flanking the matching windows on the upper floor.
The Colonial Revival-style structure was designed in 1937 by acclaimed architect Paul Williams and commissioned by Marcus Tucker, the first African-American physician to live and work in Santa Monica.
It’s exactly the kind of building that local officials believe belongs on the Historic Resources Inventory, a database of Santa Monica structures with interesting aesthetics, backgrounds and chronologies.
“This is an opportunity to see these properties are made note of as historically, architecturally or culturally significant when proposals are made to change them, particularly demolish them,” said Carol Lemlein, the Santa Monica Conservancy’s board president.
The conservancy is assisting with outreach to the community on a recurring project that aims to collect historical information on homes, businesses and other buildings in Santa Monica.
The City of Santa Monica updates its Historical Resources Inventory every few years, and Lemlein said an update is overdue. Two consulting firms, Architectural Resources Group and Historic Resources Group, have been tasked with surveying structures built through 1977. The updated database is expected to be ready in 2017.
Buildings added to the inventory are not automatically considered landmarks, Lemlein said, but she added that the database is a valuable resource for the city Landmarks Commission when its members make decisions about particular buildings.
Buildings designated as landmarks are protected from certain alterations and are eligible for other benefits, such as possible tax savings and reduced construction costs for upgrades.
“When the Landmarks Commission looks at [a possible landmark designee], it helps to see that it’s seriously considered if it’s already on the inventory,” Lemlein said.
The preservation-focused conservancy, which was founded in 2002, is trying to increase public involvement in the inventory process. Lemlein noted that several areas have not been studied extensively in previous surveys, including the aforementioned Pico neighborhood where the Tucker residence stands.
“The consultants have to rely on the architectural appearance of the properties,” she said. “They’ll do a windshield survey with a list of properties on the inventory, and there’s a segment of properties that weren’t old enough to be considered last time. But community input can be very valuable on properties of cultural importance.”
Officials have been reaching out to Santa Monica’s neighborhood associations to solicit leads on possible historic buildings. But, Lemlein said, at least some of the groups’ energies in recent weeks have been put towards the Downtown Community Plan and the Land Use Voter Empowerment initiative.
“It’s important to get the word out so people can recommend things to be looked at,” she said. “If there are buildings you’re attached to and think are important in creating the context of Santa Monica, then it’s important to recommend them for consideration as being listed on the inventory.”
For more information about the inventory, visit historicsamo.squarespace.com or www.smgov.net/Departments/PCD/Historic-Resources-Inventory or email firstname.lastname@example.org.