Fears that Owner of the Elegant Manor Is Stealthily Seeking Its Demolition

The Elegant Manor, 3115 W. Adams Blvd., the stately 1903 Italian Gothic mansion that has sat empty for almost a decade at the corner of Adams and Arlington, appears to be threatened with destruction by calculated neglect. Built by successful piano store owner James Taber Fitzgerald it served successively by a former opera singer, a group of women circus performers, and, from 1977, when it was bought by Arlillian Moody, as a important venue in the black community for weddings and other festive occasions. It was designated Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #258 in 1982. Mrs. Moody died in 2001 and the house passed to her son Ronald Carroll. It quickly fell into decline. Mr. Carroll began to rent the house to gang members, leading in January 2004 to a double murder in the front yard during a party by members of the Black P Stone gang. That led in April 2004 to a Zoning Administrator revoking Mr. Carroll's permit to hold public events. According to city records, the house was solid in February 2008 for $1.7 million. It has remained vacant for the last five years, occasionally being put on the market and then withdrawn. It was most recently offered for sale in December 2011, but withdrawn in September 2012. The accumulating neglect has led neighbors to fear that the owners hope that deterioration will reach such a point that it will override the protections the house has as a historic monument and it can be torn down and replaced with something more profitable. The email below was sent by the West Adams Avenues neighborhood association on March 6, 2013, to Ken Bernstein, manager of the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources.

 

The following email was sent on March 6, 2013, to Ken Bernstein, manager of the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources.

 

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Ken Bernstein
Manager, Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources
ken.bernstein@lacity.org

Dear Mr Bernstein

Please find enclosed some history of this numbered city monument.

What is happening now is that the owner, who bought the property a few years ago, appears to be waiting for it to fall down so that he can proceed with his development plans. I spoke to City Attorney Asha Greenberg this morning, who suggested that I call Building and Safety. The problem is that Building and Safety has been "dealing" with this property for over 30 years, and there has never been anything close to a satisfactory outcome. We are about to lose a monument at the entrance to our community.

We believe that this owner should be cited under the Vacant Building Ordinance, for is the failure to file a Statement of Intent (which involves a timeline for lawful occupany and renovation). The code recognizes that "Structures that are vancant and unsecured or barricaded pose serious post serious threats to the public's health and safety and are therefore declared to be public nuisances." It also proves for judicial or administrative procedures to abate and rehabilitate these structures. We are hoping for more than fencing and barricading.

Frankly, the neglect of this historical structure is an absolute disgrace. There is no other word for it. The owner cannot be allowed to profit by breaking the law, and stripping the city of yet another monument. There are provisions in the code for this property to have been protected decades ago, and, as a neighborhood, we are asking ourselves why, three decades later, this property is still being allowed to collapse.

Please let us know what can be done by the city to help resolve this. I think that Building and Safety has been part of the problem here: the officials I have spoken to see their role as securing the property and having the lawn mowed. That is not going to save this building.

The Vacant Building Ordinance is there for a reason, and should be used to save this building.

Thanks for your time

Linda Marais
West Adams Avenues

 

The West Adams Avenues can be contacted through their chair, Donna Jones, at kidogo@aol.com.  Their website is: http://westadamsavenues.blogspot.com/

 

The reference in the email to previous history was to an article from 2004 on our website: http://www.westadams-normandie.com/index.php/newsarticles-menu/77-cleanup-elegant-manor