Landmark status for Miracle Mile building moves forward

| June 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

BUILT in 1937, this Ridgeley Dr. building was designed by Edith Northman, renowned for her Period Revival designs.

The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted last month to consider the Berger-Winston apartment building, located in the Miracle Mile at 744 S. Ridgeley Dr., as an Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM).

Constructed in 1937, the property was designed in the Chateauesque style by the first female licensed architect in Los Angeles, Edith Northman.

Testifying in support before the commissioners, Katie Horak, principal at Architectural Resources Group, said:

“If you wanted to hire an architect in 1930s Los Angeles, you would have had dozens and dozens of men to choose from, and there would have also been Ms. Northman. It is no coincidence that many of her clients were women, and among them very prominent women in their fields.”

ARCHITECT Edith Northman was one of the first female licensed architects in Los Angeles.

Horak said she believes the Berger-Winston building meets criteria for a HCM because “it embodies the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural-type specimen,” and that “it is a notable work of a master architect.”

Daniel Freedman, an associate at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell, represented the property’s owner and argued against granting HCM status.

“We don’t believe this property embodies ‘distinguishing’ characteristics. And we don’t believe this is a notable work by Ms. Northman,” he said.

Freedman told commissioners that the building’s nomination was a reaction to the property being removed from the neighborhood’s proposed historic preservation overlay zone (HPOZ) efforts, and he noted that efforts later got the parcel back into the HPOZ. (More on that below.)

“It is now in the HPOZ and is already preserved,” he said.

Freedman’s view was supported by architectural historian Margarita Jerabek Ph.D., cultural resources director at Environmental Sciences Associates (ESA), who told commissioners that she finds the property “not eligible as a HCM under all four criteria.”

Jerabek says there are better examples of both the architect’s work and the architectural style in the area that are not under HCM consideration.

“In conclusion, this property does not meet any HCM criteria. It is common in style and is a ubiquitous property type. We recommend that the property retain its status as a contributor of the HPOZ, but not as a HCM,” she said.

In deliberation, commissioner Jeremy Irvine said he was “not loving” the Berger-Winston building.

“I feel like this building is not calling out as something that rises to the level of a monument,” he said.

Commissioner Gail Kennard disagreed: “I have been on this Commission for six or seven years now and this is only the second female architect that we’ve seen… If the women who contributed to the architecture of our city aren’t recognized, what does that say about us?”

The Commission voted 4-1 to take the Berger-Winston building under HCM consideration. Following a site-visit, commissioners will make a final decision on Aug. 3.


The Berger-Winston building has been at the center of controversy for most of 2017. In January, the building’s new owners submitted a demolition permit to the city; shortly thereafter residents were offered “cash for keys” to leave the property voluntarily. The owners were planning to replace the historic six-unit rent-controlled building with a new 19-unit market-rate apartment building.

At the same time, the debate over the Miracle Mile HPOZ was raging. At first, the property was included in the HPOZ boundaries, but was later excluded, potentially leaving the property unprotected. Fearing demolition, the Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA) submitted an application for HCM status to the Cultural Heritage Commission on March 10. Less than three weeks later, the original HPOZ boundary was reinstated, which included 744 S. Ridgeley Dr., providing protections to the property.

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Category: Real Estate

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