Will California Officials Derail West Hollywood's Plans to Tear Down Great Hall-Long Hall?

It's been ongoing saga for a while now, and West Hollywood City Council's plans to demolish the WPA-era Great Hall-Long Hall buildings in Plummer Park may be derailed -- one way or another.

It brings back memories of when the West Hollywood City Council pushed hard to mess with the old Tara mansion on Laurel Avenue -- and lost. Tara is now a public park.

In the most recent episode of West Hollywood politicians trying to rid the city of its historical treasures, the California Historic Resources Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve the nomination to place the 75-year-old, Spanish Colonial Revival buildings in Plummer Park on the National Register of Historic Places. What does that mean?

Well, the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington D.C. needs to green light the state's decision before adding Great Hall-Long Hall to the list of approximately 80,000 historic places nationwide.

See also: "Fury over Plummer Park Historic Destruction."

So Great Hall-Long Hall are not just local treasures but could very well be national, too. That could make things tough for the West Hollywood City Council.

West Hollywood Council members John Duran, John Heilman, Abbe Land, and Jeff Prang voted to oppose the national historic designation last month, with an eye toward tearing down the buildings as part of a grand, multi-million-dollar rehab of Plummer Park. Councilman John D'Amico was the lone dissenter among that crowd.

The City Council has already voted to demolish Great Hall-Long Hall.

Apparently, Heilman's own sense of embarrassment is a driving force behind his opposition to saving the old buildings.

At a recent City Council meeting, Heilman said, as reported by WeHo News:

"Nobody is disputing the historic aspect of these buildings; I was in them before cityhood. I know them quite well. They were terrible buildings to work in then; they're still terrible buildings.

"There's a courtyard in between these buildings that smells like urine all the time... We have to keep it locked away during the day because it's a chronic source of homeless and criminal activity. I'm embarrassed when we have to... hold civic functions there."

Guess doing whatever is necessary to fix up the landmarks, which could be nationally recognized, is out of the question for Heilman.

Heilman, who's the longest serving City Councilman and was first elected to office when Ronald Reagan was still president, also opposed turning Tara mansion on Laurel Avenue into a much-needed, local park.

Will Heliman lose another one? That question is still up in the air.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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