It’s official. Great Hall-Long Hall in West Hollywood’s Plummer Park is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The listing was all but a formality after the California Historic Resources Commission approved the nomination of the 1930s era conjoined buildings to the National Register during its May meeting. But that formality is now official as the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, DC accepted the papers easily.
“We added it on Monday,” said Paul Lusignan, a historian with the National Register, which is a division of the National Park Service. “We read the report and everything was in order. We really have come to depend on the state preservation offices as our eyes and ears to sift through nominations, so what’s presented to us are usually good cases for eligibility. This certainly was, so we added it.”
The buildings were nominated because they are strong examples of Spanish Colonial revival architecture and because they were built by the Work Projects Administration (WPA), the Depression-era, government-funded department that constructed many highways, parks and public buildings across the nation.
“It’s connection with the WPA and the Depression-era efforts was what its basis for significance was,” said Lusignan. “It is a nice example of [Spanish Colonial revival] architecture. It may not be the greatest architecture in the city, but clearly the WPA connection was an important component of association.”
The City of West Hollywood opposed the nomination of the buildings. The city has long planned to tear the 75-year-old buildings down as part of its redesign of Plummer Park. In fact, in April, Councilmember John Heilman called for the immediate demolition of the buildings, before the state Historic Resources Commission’s could meet.
The listing in the National Register does not guarantee automatic protection from the wrecking ball. The city could still go to court for permission to demolish Great Hall-Long Hall, but such a case would now come under far greater scrutiny.
The National Register currently lists 88,000 properties across the country. They receive about 1,500 applications for properties each year and add about 90 percent of them, said Lusignan.
Stephanie Harker, who spearheaded the Protect Plummer Park movement to prevent the city from undertaking its massive redesign of the park, was thrilled with the news.
“It is a great honor for all of us in the West Hollywood community who are concerned about the preservation of our historic buildings to receive such acknowledgement from our nation’s capitol,” said Harker. “We are the stewards of the buildings in Plummer Park and I hope we take that responsibility to heart and move forward to restore and preserve our very own national treasure.”
The papers nominating Great Hall-Long Hall were written by resident Jen Dunbar who now heads the West Hollywood Preservation Alliance.
Dunbar could not be reached for comment.
However, city Historic Preservation Commissioner Brad Torgan, who used to sit on the state Historic Resources Commission, said that generally only professionally written nomination papers make it through the entire application process, that it is rare for a locally written nomination to be as complete and thorough as Dunbar’s was.
Despite the honor, a plaque for the building does not automatically come with the listings.
“If the city wants to put a plaque up, they have to pay for it,” said Lusignan.