The neighborhood east of La Brea Avenue and north of Beverly Boulevard isn’t known as a hub of French architecture, but it is getting some new attention after an apartment building named the “North Sycamore Chateau” on Sycamore Avenue has been designated a cultural historic monument for its design.
The Los Angeles City Council approved the historic designation on Dec. 16 after a lengthy review process that took into consideration the age of the property, its design and its current condition. The building, located at 350 N. Sycamore Ave., was built in 1936 and was designed by architect William J. Barber. It is one of a handful of buildings in the city with a French chateauesque design, according to Ken Bernstein, manager of the city’s Office of Historic Resources.
“There are not a large number of excellent, intact examples of chateauesque architecture, and this building is a significant example of that type of design.” Bernstein added. “It went through the process, and the cultural heritage commission did recommend it as a cultural historic monument based on its design.”
The two-story, six-unit building has an exterior that is designed after the 16th Century chateaux and palaces common in France. It has steep, multi-level roofs with decorative chimneys, as well as two conical towers at the corners. The building’s owner, Hector Montenejo, has owned the property for the past five years, and added that he is proud that it received the historic designation. Although there were no plans to tear it down or make major changes, the designation ensures it will be preserved into the future, Montenejo said.
“I like to see neighborhoods preserved, and for me, it is important to preserve certain buildings in Los Angeles,” Montenejo said. “I love the building and am going to keep it the way it is. I hope people will appreciate it.”
Charles Fisher, an architectural consultant who was hired by the building’s owner, said he was certain from the beginning that it was a special building. Fisher added that although the neighborhood is not officially within Hancock Park, it is one of the tracts of land that was originally owned and developed by George Allan Hancock and his family. Barber was known for designing apartments and commercial buildings in Los Angeles before World War II, but the architect has not received a significant amount of recognition, Fisher added.
“I took one look at the building and I knew it was a slam dunk,” Fisher said. “It is an incredible building. The significance is its architecture itself, and it is a great architectural specimen.”
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