The personal home of a seminal Los Angeles architect will be designated a local landmark, despite attempts by the owner of the house to reverse the decision.

The Landmarks Commission voted unanimously in June to landmark the estate John Parkinson built in 1920 on Woodacres Road and lived in until his death in 1935. Parkinson designed Los Angeles’ City Hall, Coliseum and Grand Central Market, but his biographer Stephen Gee said the Italian Renaissance Revival home best reflects his personal architectural style and is remarkably unaltered.

“This is the most compelling case for a landmark designation you will ever see,” Gee told the commission in June.

Under the city of Santa Monica’s municipal code, a property must meet at least one of six criteria to become a local landmark. The criteria cover historic, aesthetic and architectural value.

The home’s owner, Marcia Alphson, appealed the designation on the grounds that it would lower the property’s value and prevent her from making necessary renovations. She inherited Woodacres from her parents, Howard and Druscilla Alphson, who bought it from the estate of Parkinson’s widow in the 1960s.

Alphson’s attorney, Roger Diamond, argued that the designation amounted to the city seizing Alphson’s property.

“The commission has forced Ms. Alphson to become a museum curator and maintain the house for the benefit of the Conservancy … but has not compensated her for the reduction in the value of her property,” Diamond said.

The City Council unanimously denied the appeal last Tuesday, upholding the Landmarks Commission’s findings that the estate was both architecturally and historically significant.

The two-story, 4,700 square foot home has a red tile roof, smooth stucco walls and is laid out in an irregular H shape. The first floor features an arcade supported by ornate terra cotta columns and Corinthian capitals.

Ruthann Lehrer, who sits on the board of directors of the Santa Monica Conservancy, said Tuesday that Woodacres should be landmarked because Parkinson designed Southern California’s most iconic buildings. The Conservancy, a nonprofit that supports historic preservation, applied to designate Woodacres.

“The evidence in favor of landmarking is overwhelming,” Lehrer said.

Lehrer added that landmark status does not typically lower a property’s value. Buyers are often willing to pay more for a historical house and appreciate the property tax cut on such properties, she said.

“(Woodacres) being the trophy house of a famous architect would actually add value to the property in a real estate transaction,” Lehrer said.

Mayor Gleam Davis said landmarking a home does not affect its owner’s ability to remodel the interior.

“Making changes to the exterior is also possible, they would just have to be approved by the Landmarks Commission,” she said.

The city’s planning staff also recommended denying Alphson’s appeal saying the residence substantially retains all aspects of integrity from its period of significance.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *