We’re planning on doing a website and possibly a book on Santa Monica Landmarks. If you have a story, please contribute it. Email it to -> [email protected]
The definition of a National Historic Landmark is a nationally significant historic place designated by the Secretary of the Interior. Landmark properties are chosen because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States and designated under the authority of the Historic Sites Act of 1935.

Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. Santa Monica has slightly more than 400 residential properties listed in City Hall’s Historic Resources Inventory — 43 are official landmarks, and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

There are many properties in Santa Monica that are noteworthy yet the general public knows virtually nothing about them. City Hall and the Santa Monica Conservancy have been actively informing residents of the historical status of many of the properties in Santa Monica. The city of Santa Monica now features a citywide tour with 53 noteworthy properties.

Take a tour of the landmarked properties north of Wilshire:

1. Eucalyptus deanei tree
522 24th St.

Santa Monica was a leader in horticultural innovation in the early 20th Century. This rare species of Eucalyptus was planted by horticulturist Hugh Evans in the early 1920s. This is the tallest and most massive Eucalyptus deanei specimen in the country.

2. John Byers Office, 1926
246 26th St.
In the period between World War I and World War II, John Byers made more of an impact on the Santa Monica architectural landscape than any other local practitioner. He explored the possibilities of a number of styles, including Spanish, Mexican, and Monterey, and was most known for his adobe-designed buildings.

When John Byers died in 1966, he was based out of this Spanish Colonial Revival compound at 246 26th St. It is now a charming restaurant - Chez Mimi - and one of your few chances to dine at a local landmark though (though you can shop at several.)



In 1973, the Santa Monica Pier was slated for demolition. A number of citizens groups sprang up to defend the Piers. The two largest, "Save the Piers Citizen Committee" and "Friends of Santa Monica Pier," along with other concerned citizens, convinced the City Council that the pier was an important piece of local history worthy of preservation. The council then created the “Historic Site Committee” to developed standards and procedures for historic preservation. This led to the Santa Monica Historic Preservation Ordinance of 1976 and grew into the Landmarks Commission.

(For more information on the saving of the Santa Monica Pier, please read Bill Bauer’s firsthand account in the share section).

These are some of the properties they have saved in downtown Santa Monica….

22. Miles Playhouse, 1929
1130, Lincoln Blvd.

Several legends surround the endowment of the Miles Playhouse. The story goes that the late 1920s City Councilman J. Euclid Miles bequeathed the city of Santa Monica $25,000 to build a hall for young people, in memory of his daughter, Mary, with the provision that the
city maintain it in perpetuity. The city’s favorite son, architect John Byers, designed the playhouse in the Spanish Colonial revival style. After years of decline, the Miles Playhouse was finally rebuilt after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and is home to several children’s theater groups.

23. Streamline Moderne Commercial Building, 1940
507 Wilshire Blvd.

Old timers will remember 507 Wilshire Blvd. as the LLO-DA-MAR Bowl. The bowling alley was converted into retail use in the 1970s, but W. Douglas Lee’s design still exemplifies the commercial Streamline Moderne style. The style shows an evolution from the frill early Art Deco exchanging the baroque touches for aerodynamic lines, borrowing design elements from trains, ships and automobiles.


The Looff Hippodrome on Santa Monica Pier is listed on the National Register of Historic Places


Here’s an interesting personality study for you -> the characteristics of people who buy homes vs. people who don’t by homes. This survey was conducted by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University is the nation's largest publicly funded organization devoted to real estate research. Most of our $2 million in annual funding comes from real estate license fees paid by more than 100,000 professionals. A nine-member advisory committee appointed by the governor provides research guidance and approves the budget.

The Center's staff conducts research on financial, socioeconomic, public policy, trade, legal, land use and local market analysis issues related to real estate. This survey conducted interviews among three key groups: current homeowners (2,086 people), likely buyers - defined as those considering a home purchase in the next two to three years (914 people) and non-likely home buyers defined as those not considering a home purchase in the near future (1,080 people).

Surveys averaged 22 minutes in length for homeowners and likely homebuyers, and 10 minutes for non-likely home buyers. Interviews were conducted between November 14, 2003, and December 31, 2003.

Here is what they discovered:


Most likely group to be married, to have incomes above 50k, to have a college degree or above, and to be White
About 3/4 think it’s a good idea to use a real estate agent when buying or selling a home
Least likely group (about 1/3) to think real estate agents don’t take the time to understand your needs
Most likely to say that needing more space, a new job in a new location, or a change in a family situation motivated them to buy a new home
More likely than likely home buyers to think aspects of the home buying process are easy, such as knowing how much mortgage you would qualify for and if you got a good deal
Along with likely homebuyers, most homeowners think owning a home is a good financial investment and that it’s important to pay off a home loan as quickly as possible
Along with likely home buyers, most likely to find a neighborhood by relying on family and to driving through neighborhoods


Likely Home Buyers

About half are married, have incomes below 50k, have a high school diploma or less, and are Hispanic
Most likely group, about 9/10, to think it’s a good idea to use a real estate agent when buying or selling a home
Most likely to say that needing more space, a new job in a new location, and getting married would motivate them to buy a new home
Compared to homeowners, likely homebuyers overestimate the difficulty of aspects of the home buying process
More likely than homeowners to think it’s hard to qualify for a mortgage loan, and to be comfortable buying a home with a very small down payment
More likely than homeowners say they would rely on real estate office information and media such as the Internet and newspapers to find a neighborhood


Non-Likely Home Buyers

About half are single; most have incomes below 50k and have a high school diploma or less; about half are White
Least likely, about 7/10, to think it’s a good idea to use a real estate agent when buying or selling a home
About half think real estate agents don’t take the time to understand your needs

For more information about the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University go to

For your real estate needs, e-mail Jodi Summers at [email protected], or call 310-260-8269.



On June 23, 1891, property developers Abbot Kinney and Francis Ryan bought the controlling interest in the Ocean Park Casino. Later that year, they paid $175,000 for the surrounding tract of land that faced the ocean south of what is now Pico Blvd. There, they built the Ocean Park Beach Resort. Direct rail service from Los Angeles began when the first train arrived at its Hill Street depot on June 18, 1892. Advertisements appeared for Kinney and Ryan’s “Santa Monica Tract.” The lots, 25 x 100 feet, were priced at $100 and featured piped water. Tents were
erected on unsold lots and were available to campers for summer rental. Three years later, Ocean Park was born. Many historic properties still remain.

A highlight of Ocean Park is the Third Street Neighborhood Historic District — bounded by Ocean Park Boulevard, Second, Hill and Third streets — possesses aesthetic significance to Santa Monica in that the area displays a high percentage of original, turn-of-the century structures — from Victorian to Gothic to American Colonial Revival to California Craftsman to Spanish Colonial Revival. The neighborhood provides a visual representation of the neighborhood’s development through the 1930s.

37. Bay Street Craftsman cluster, turn of the 20th century
137, 141, 145 & 147 Bay St.

These early examples of the Craftsman style Apartment buildings were originally located at Los Angeles Pacific Railway right of way, which connected Santa Monica to points south and east.



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Santa Monica Pier
Daily Press Article

In early 1973, the Santa Monica City Council voted to demolish the Santa Monica Pier(s) in order to build a "bridge" to an artificial island proposed for the Santa Monica Bay. The island to be constructed near the present breakwater would have featured a hotel and convention center. The project with the work of then City Manager, Perry Scott and supported by the Chamber of Commerce, real estate interest and developer dominated City Council.

Public backlash against the proposal scuttled the plan however the majority on City Council did not rescind the demolition order for the Santa Monica Pier and adjoining Newcomb Pier.
A number of citizens groups sprang up to defend the Piers. The two largest were "Save the Piers Citizen Committee" and "Friends of Santa Monica Pier."

Both committees, and other groups, pier businesses and individuals targeted three councilmen who steadfastly refused to budge of the demolition order and who were up for reelection in the spring. (one of these councilmen was Bob Gabriel) All three were defeated and three pro-pier councilmen were elected. Their first order of business was to rescind the demolition orders.

Some of us (and I was associated with the STPCC) were concerned that a future city council could vote to remove the piers so we asked the new council persons to enact an ordinance making it a crime with fines for anyone to tear down the Pier(s). They were reluctant to pass the ordinance so a group of us got together and architect, Garth Sheriff and others drafted an initiative called the "Pier Preservation Act."

The initiative and went on the ballot in 1975 or 1976. A group was formed, collected signatures and qualified the proposal for the ballot in 1975 or 1976. The group made up of persons from both the old "Save the Piers" and "Friends..." was called "The Citizen's Initiative to Preserve the Piers" and the ballot measure was Prop 1. Our slogan: "Save the Piers, FOREVER." I managed the campaign for passage of Prop 1 and it passed easily.

Some of us went on to form a group called the "Santa Monica Landmark Protectors." The group was formed by the late Jack Sikking. Our first mission was to save the old Spanish Revival style city library on 5th and Santa Monica Blvd. The City had opened a new library building at 6th and Santa Monica Blvd. (also since demolished), moved the library there and sold the old property. That property had been purchased by a developer who wanted to put up a ten story bank building with an above ground parking structure toward the rear along 5th Street. He claimed the old library had been irreparably damaged by the 1971 Sylmar earth quake. We failed to save it, it was demolished and I think Cal Fed has the property now.

I dropped out of the "Landmark Protectors" at that point and it's possible that others went on to become involved in Santa Monica's landmark movement. Some of our people became involved in a movement to divide the city into councilmanic districts, which failed. That led to the creation of the renters rights movement in 1978/1979.

"Save the Santa Monica Bay" had nothing to do with the piers. It was formed in (I believe) the early 1970s to fight an elevated, over the water, multi-lane, vehicular causeway Cal Trans wanted to build right off the coast to extend the Santa Monica Freeway up to Malibu. That project was killed and "Save the Bay" hung around for years afterwards doing the kind of work "Heal the Bay" does now.

I'm writing all this because nobody gets the history of the Save the Piers movement right. It's a slight to the many people who worked very hard and gave money to "Save the Piers" to see other organizations that were not involved take credit.


Bill Bauer
Candidate for City Council



As a Realtor, people are always asking you interesting questions about all aspects of property purchase. Here are answers to some loan questions.

What has been the average rate on a 30-year mortgage this year?
- Victoria, Arizona Ave.

According to Freddie Mac (a stockholder-owned corporation chartered by Congress in 1970, that purchases mortgages from lenders and packages them into securities that are sold to investors), the national average commitment rate for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage was 6.13 percent in the second quarter, up from 5.60 percent in the first quarter; the rate was 5.51 percent in the second quarter of 2003 - the lowest quarterly average since the series began in 1971.

When I went to sign my mortgage docs for the purchase of my new condo, my invoice hit me up for another $2,000+ in lender fees that did not appear on the Good Faith Estimate. What is that all about?
- Kory, Princeton Ave.

When a situation like that occurs, be sure to ask your loan rep about these fees, and which ones they might be willing to waive. Suggest that as per the Truth in Lending Act you’d like to know what you’re paying for.

The Truth in Lending Act regulates the dollar amount that triggers additional disclosure requirements for home mortgage loans that bear rates or fees above a certain amount.
Real estate prices are so high that many of my friends and co-workers who have recently bought homes are getting adjustable rate mortgages. Is this a trend?
- Jan, 9th St.

There’s a definite shift. As of November 2003, 52.3% of California homebuyers were using adjustable rate mortgages - up from 29.5% a year earlier. According to DataQuick information services, this was the first time since February 1995 when 52.7 percent of all buyers chose ARMs. The all-time peak was in September 1988 when 66.1 percent financed with ARMS.
ARM usage is highest in the San Francisco Bay Area, where homes are the highest in the state; and lowest in the Central Valley and rural areas. 59.3% of Los Angeles County homeowners use Arms.

Because of my finance scenario, I recently bought a commercial property using a 30% down payment and an "interest-only" mortgage for 10 years when there will be a balloon payment. What do I do when the money comes due in 10 years?
- Roger, Sunset Ave.

The upside of an interest-only mortgage makes 100% of your monthly payment fully tax-deductible as interest. The downside is that the balance of your purchase is due all at once. Noted real estate columnist Robert Bruss suggests you devise an exit strategy. This can include selling the property within that time frame, or see if you can negotiate a rollover provision to an amortized mortgage. Your choice will depend upon your individual situation.

For your real estate needs, e-mail Jodi Summers at [email protected], or call 310-260-8269.