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Stained glass windows stripped from old Hollywood church

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Preservationists aren’t happy

A set of 90-year-old stained glass windows have been removed from an old Hollywood church, and preservation-minded neighbors are none too pleased. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the windows were stripped after the Department of Building and Safety mistakenly issued a permit allowing the owner of the building to remove and replace the structure’s window glazing.

The Bethany Lutheran Church of Hollywood, at 4975 West Sunset Boulevard, is being converted into creative offices. A representative for the building's owner points out that the building is not a historic monument and that the company has a permit to redevelop the property. Preservationists, however, say the developer should not have been able to remove the windows. Earlier this year, area resident David Bell appealed the project’s approval, arguing the church should be considered a historically significant structure.

The Central Los Angeles Area Planning Commission rejected the appeal, but did advise that any changes to the building’s exterior would be subject to the approval of the planning department. "They were able to sneak in a building permit when they should not have received it," a member of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council tells the Times.

Bell’s appeal included a letter from local historian Charles J. Fisher noting that the church was constructed in 1925 under the direction of noted architect Chauncey Fitch Skilling. Best known for the Immanuel Presbyterian Church that looms over Wilshire Boulevard, Skilling hasn’t been having a good month. Just two weeks ago, a Foursquare-style Craftsman of his design was badly damaged in a fire.

In 1956, the architectural firm of Googie pioneers Louis Armet and Eldon Davis gave the church an overhaul that included the addition of a distinctive new front entryway. But, Fisher writes, what really makes the building worthy of preservation is its fabulous collection of windows. "The removal of these windows," he notes in his letter, "would be a significant change to the historic look of the structure and should be avoided."

Now that the windows have, in fact, been removed, Fisher tells the Times the city should force the developer to replace them—even if it means paying for expensive replicas.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who reps the area, is reportedly looking into the situation to see if the developer violated the conditions of its permit.

Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly featured an image of Bethany Lutheran Church in Long Beach. We apologize for the error.