The Santa Monica Conservancy recognized eight exemplary contributions to the preservation of Santa Monica’s architectural and cultural heritage by honoring individuals, building owners and architectural firms at its recent Annual Meeting.

This year, for the first time since 2010, the Conservancy presented its David G. Cameron Award. Cameron was instrumental in the establishment of the City’s first Landmarks Ordinance and a passionate advocate for the preservation of its heritage.

The David G. Cameron Award was given to Alison Rose Jefferson, PhD, for her many significant contributions to our understanding of African-American history in Santa Monica. For over a decade, Jefferson has researched the history of African-Americans in Santa Monica and has educated the public on this subject, creating many projects and activities recognizing this history. These include her work on designating the Phillips Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church at 4th and Bay Streets as a Santa Monica Landmark and authorship of the text on the monument at the “Inkwell,” the historical Jim Crow era, African-American beach site adjacent to the Casa del Mar which remained an important gathering place long after racial restrictions at public beaches were abandoned in 1927. Her involvement with Heal the Bay, Black surfing organizations, the Conservancy and others in various programs and events continues to share more diverse stories about our heritage with younger and broader audiences.

The President’s Award was given to Santa Monica Public Library, for retrieving, restoring and re-installing the Stanton Macdonald-Wright murals to the ongoing benefit of our community. Recognized for their great historic and artistic value, the murals were restored and re-installed at the new Main Library in 2005. The Santa Monica Public Library played a key role in facilitating their return and restoration. Created in 1934-35 for our former Carnegie Library, these murals were the precursor of many other artworks placed in public buildings under Federal patronage during the Depression. Stanton Macdonald-Wright, an internationally acclaimed artist, created this mural cycle on wood panels, depicting technology and imagination in human development. When the library was demolished in the 1960s to make way for a new library building, the panels were removed and stored at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Several decades later, City leaders, library staff and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art initiated efforts to retrieve the murals for incorporation into our new modern library. The mural paintings have been restored and an informative website has been created to enable the public to once again experience Macdonald-Wright’s creative legacy.

The Stewardship Award was given to the City of Santa Monica, Department of Public Works, for demonstrated respect for the historic value of the California Incline while guiding the reconstruction project to provide improved public safety. The California Incline is significant as a contributing element to Palisades Park, a Santa Monica Landmark. The original connector between the bluffs of Linda Vista Park (now Palisades Park) and the beach was a dirt trail for horses and wagons. Paved over and made into an automobile roadway in the 1930s, the California Incline replacement project that was completed in 2016 maintains the historic pathway linking the city with the coastline. With pedestrian and bicycle use enhancements, the railing and the neon sign continue to be emblems from the past.



The Stewardship Award was given to Shugi and Alexander Cassini, for their dedication to the legacy of Merle Norman and ongoing stewardship of their remarkable home at 2433 2nd Street. For over 20 years, this Mediterranean Revival style house at 2433 2nd Street was the principal residence of nationally-famed cosmetics entrepreneur Merle Norman. Designed by architect Ellis Martin in 1936, it features original wood windows, tiled patios, and a sweeping interior staircase. It also has some Streamline Moderne elements including original decorative tiling and fixtures in the bathrooms as well as a beautiful mirrored dressing room. The Cassinis have been stewards of the property, incorporating new design elements that reflect their own sense of style. Additionally, they have been generous in opening their home for Conservancy events, sharing its beauty and historic significance.

The Restoration and Renovation Award was given to Anitra and Alan Escovitz, for their thorough restoration and reconstruction of the Landmark Aeroplane Bungalow at 315 Tenth Street, respecting original materials and design. This Landmark Aeroplane Bungalow at 315 Tenth Street was originally built in 1912. By 2013, when Alan and Anitra Escovitz purchased the property, it was in great need of structural and infrastructure upgrades. They spent one year restoring the main rooms, replicating original moldings, restoring the front door, and recreating the wood dining buffet. A new back porch was added that replicates the depth, materials and design of the original front porch. This couple is an inspiring example of devotion to Craftsman homes and the willingness to do what it takes for a house to live on.

The Rehabilitation Award was given to 1012 Second Street, LLC, Howard Laks Architects, and Chattel Inc., for an innovative solution to combining new construction with preserving a Landmark Victorian Cottage at 1012 Second Street. This project is the first to be completed taking advantage of modifications to the city’s development standards for projects on parcels involving designated landmarks. These modifications made possible the creation of three additional living units without exceeding the by-right floor area and volume permitted on the site and preserving an important landmark structure from the City’s earliest residential development.

The Rehabilitation Award was also given to Lighthouse Investments, LLC, and Paligroup Management, LLC, for their efforts in conserving and rejuvenating the Landmark Embassy Hotel Apartments, now operated as Palihouse. The stylish and sophisticated Embassy Hotel Apartments, now named Palihouse, was designed by architect Arthur E. Harvey and built by Luther Mayo in 1927 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The site has been determined to be eligible for National Register of Historic Places both individually and as a contributor to a potential historic thematic district of Elegant Apartments in the north of Wilshire neighborhood. The current owners have conserved and refurbished the building throughout. Recognized as a Santa Monica Landmark in 2003, the original windows, decorative ceilings, patterned tile work, and outdoor patio paving have been preserved.

The Outstanding Volunteer Service Award was given to Kay Pattison, Thomasine Rogas, and Rita Schneir, for 10 years of continuous dedication to the Conservancy’s weekly Downtown Walking Tour. The Downtown Walking Tour was the Conservancy’s first weekly tour program, founded in 2007 by Carol Lemlein with extensive mentoring by Ruthann Lehrer and the research assistance of several volunteers. These three stalwart docents from the original 2007 group have served continuously for 10 years.

This year the Awards Committee was chaired by Katilin Drisko and included Paul Davidson, David Kaplan, Ruthann Lehrer, and Carol Lemlein. The full history of the awards is on the Conservancy website at descriptions of the 2017 awards are provided below.

Founded in 2002, the Santa Monica Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting understanding of the cultural, social, economic and environmental benefits of preserving the historic resources of Santa Monica’s unique urban landscape. For information on programs, membership and the Conservancy’s Preservation Resource Center, see

  • Submitted by Carol Lemlein, SM Conservancy President