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They Start So Early: Teenage Preservationists Get Behind North Hills Onion

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[Left image via Los Angeles Love Affair; Right image via Los Angeles Music Week]

It was a spiritual day yesterday for the Cultural Heritage Commission. In addition to approving the Bethlehem Baptist Church, the Commission also voted to consider Historic-Cultural Monument status for "the Onion" in North Hills, known more formally as the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society. The contoured wood beam building was built in 1964 and designed by Frank Ehrenthal, a student of Richard Neutra. Neutra himself was considered by the congregation and spoke to the group, according to the HCM application, but he was rejected for his "authoritarian manner." Like a lot of Unitarian churches at the time, the Onion was a "safe haven and headquarters for protesters." Civil rights lawyer William Kunstler spoke in the rain to 5,000 people at the site in March 1970.

High school students prepared the HCM nomination for this Vietnam-era landmark (They still weren't born when the site hosted veteran protests in 1983. We're so old.). The Los Angeles Conservancy has been working after school with 20 students at Kennedy High School's Architecture and Digital Arts magnet, teaching them about landmarking. It was a student who presented the PowerPoint and testified at the CHC meeting yesterday. And it was students who did all of the research, interviews, and photography to prepare the nominations, says Adam Rubin, the LA Conservancy's Youth Outreach Coordinator.

Groups of Kennedy students have been working on five buildings since the spring. In addition to the Onion, they presented two other nominations yesterday, both of which are moving forward. The Lankershim Reading Room is a small octagonal building built in 1904 and is the only remaining structure from the Lankershim Ranch. It's now at the Andres Pico Adobe Park in Mission Hills. The Corbin Palms House is a 1955 Modern Ranch house in Woodland Hills designed by architects Palmer & Krisel.
· Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society [Official Site]