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October 26, 2008

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the impending demise of the little car repair shop on a busy corner in my Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake. The former Atlantic Richfield gas station (ca. 1936) had become a darling of local preservationists–and a local Council member.

silverlake

Problem was, the land had been sold and permits pulled to build an office building on the site. A save-the-station drive was begun, and building plans put on hold until the application was considered by the City Council. The verdict? Gentlemen, start your bulldozers! When I drove by this morning, the building was gone.

Lessons learned: (1) The time to start a preservation drive is before the chain-link fence goes up, and (2) Pick your battles. The history of historic preservation in Southern California is checkered at best, and tales of the unchallenged demolition of modernist works by the likes of Neutra and Schindler are legend. So here's a heads-up to L.A. design and kitsch fans: The Union 76 gas station just up the street, home to one of those classic orange "76 balls," ripped out their gas pumps this week. Is another mid-to-late-century icon about to be lost?

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