Dr. Lisa, the HPOZ, and the Pink Door Conundrum

Andy and I have bought a house in one of Los Angeles’ beautiful inner-ring-ish suburbs. Ring analogies don’t really work with Los Angeles, but that’s another story. Today, suffice it so say that we bought a house near the university where I work in a neighborhood called Wellington Square within West Adams. People have gotten rather testy with me for referring to this area as West Adams, but…the place I am going to live is covered by the West Adams Historic Preservation Association. So I’m going with that.

Anyhoodily, the point, and I do have one, is that we are in a historic preservation overlay zone (HPOZ). Now, it’s pretty clear from the neighbors I’ve met that there are not many historic preservation hawks living in my immediate vicinity. One is caring for his aged mother, who lives there. My neighbors on both sides have four kids and three kids, each (so that means they are busy racing around after kids and nannies and more kids). I suspect they could care less what we do, as long as it doesn’t involve human sacrifice.

This house I bought is a Dutch colonial revival, built in 1919.

These typically were painted quite conservatively, with green shutters and perhaps a bright red door.

We are purchasing the house from a conservatorship for the estate of a lady named Ms. Lonnie Pillow. Ms. Pillow lived in that house from 1950 onwards, according to her heir, until the day she died at age 100.

According the the talkative neighbor, who got in a long discussion with my talkative spouse, Ms. Pillow liked her clothes and wore lipstick until the day she died. A lady after my own heart.

Yesterday, we found newspapers from 1950 lining her linen cupboards. And I found a treasure trove of her church hats.

Ms. Pillow liked pink. As a result, I have a pink front door and pink shutters:

Voila Capture54

Now, it gets a mite more confusing, as the heir replaced one of the pink shutters shown here with a white shutter. So the house is lopsided.

HPOZs are meant to preserve architectural imagery. Now, I have sympathy for the historic preservation folks, particularly the ones in Los Angeles, who can have a tough time compared to their often fanatical and superwealthy eastern counterparts. The part of me that understands and appreciates the good parts of historic preservation wants to make this place look the way an LA Dutch Barn would have looked.

However, Ms. Pillow was a part of this place for 60 years–that’s more than half of the life of the house. She was an astute lady, it seems, and owned a bunch of property, and if the boatload of bank statements of hers I am now shredding are any indicator, she knew how to manage money.

There is a part of me that also knows historic preservationists also tend to skate over the histories of individuals, particularly African Americans, who were not celebrity-style famous.

What does it take it to be notable? Or important enough to be remembered? Why is the life of one person worth commemorating, but not another?

And do I go original and just blow a kiss in apology to Ms. Pillow? Or do I start looking for matching pink paint?

2 thoughts on “Dr. Lisa, the HPOZ, and the Pink Door Conundrum

  1. This is similar to the conservation easement debate, in my mind. In my opinion, just because someone, at some arbitrary point in time, decides that things should stay exactly the same way they are today, mostly because that’s when that person is around, doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing to do. Not to seem unsentimental, but Ms. Pillow, God rest her soul, is dead. The house should be painted the way the present inhabitants want it to be painted, so long as they abide by the historic overlay zone rules and the like. If Ms. Pillow wanted the house to stay the same forever, and if she was really narcissistic, she could have donated a facade easement on the property, and gotten a huge tax break.

  2. This will be a VERY ODD post. Last night I had a dream of walking into a house being welcomed by a woman who I thought was a realtor. I remembered the pink shutters and asked about the bars on the windows she said its part of the house. I know its a bizarre thing to write. In my dream she said this house is haunted. I just was so freaked out when I saw THE HOUSE from my dream that I wanted to share with the author….strange.

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