Show support for a city landmark — vote early and often

| September 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

My friend Tom Mayes, deputy general counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in 2013 was a recipient of the Rome Prize, awarded yearly by the American Academy in Rome to emerging artists and scholars who represent the highest standards of excellence in art and architecture. (Our own local residents Bill Fain and Elizabeth La Bombard also received this honor.)  Tom used his six-month “tour of discovery” (in Rome!) to answer the question “Why do old places matter?”

New book

Tom posited that while people often feel strongly about old places in their lives, they sometimes can’t articulate exactly why. Using words and concepts like “continuity,” “memory,” “individual identity,” “civic, state, and national identity,” “sacred,” “learning,” “ancestors,” and “community,” Tom set out to illustrate “how historic places affect our identity and well being.” His new book, published last month and available on Amazon and elsewhere, is titled “Why Old Places Matter.”

In discussing the role that buildings play in shaping our civic, state and national identity, Tom says, “Americans argue vociferously about what our country is, who it is for, and what it means. These debates help reshape and re-form and — hopefully — deepen our understanding of history and identity. The old places that embody our identity are the perfect places for those discussions and debates.”

Vote to preserve

Central to our identity is the ability to vote, and while the midterm elections spring to mind, you have a more immediate opportunity to show your pride in Los Angeles and to help rehabilitate an important landmark by participating in the 2018 Partners in Preservation: Main Streets program sponsored by the National Trust, Main Street America and American Express. No money is required — just a few minutes of your time on your computer between now and October 26.  It can be a family affair. Your individual e-mail address is your voting ticket.

This year’s campaign has 20 sites nationwide, and one is in Los Angeles!

Lincoln Heights church

The deserving representative is the oldest operating Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, the Church of the Epiphany in Lincoln Heights.  This Victorian Gothic gem was designed by Ernest Coxhead in 1883 and expanded by Arthur B. Benton in 1913. In the 1960s the church played a pivotal role in the Chicano civil rights movement as the birthplace of “La Raza,” and continues to provide needed social services in the community today. If you want to learn more about “La Raza” and the Chicano arts movement, there is still time to catch a fabulous exhibit at the Autry Museum that beautifully details the significance of the movement and its major participants.    

If enough votes are cast to put Epiphany at the head of the pack, the church will receive up to $150,000 from American Express towards its badly needed rehabilitation, which includes a new roof, stained glass repair and renovation of space in the “La Raza” basement for healthcare and legal clinics, the People’s History Project and community meetings. is the local website that will link you to the national voting website (  You can sign up for daily voting reminders if you wish.  The Los Angeles Conservancy is a partner in this effort.

Competition among the sites is intense. Epiphany deserves the support of every Angeleno.  You can cast up to five votes per day, and it only takes a minute to help bring these funds to Los Angeles for a much needed restoration effort.  Share this with your friends and co-workers. Let’s show the rest of the country how committed we can be to our diverse and unique history.

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