July 24, 2005
At 7am on Monday, July 18th, a prominent castle-like residence at 10629-10639 North Commerce Street in Tujunga faced imminent demolition. Known locally as the "Weatherwolde Castle," developer Scott Anderson planned to raze the existing house to make way for four newly constructed homes. No building permits had been issued, yet a bulldozer was parked on the property ready to go. Construction crews had already cleared all the oak trees, hedges, and brush on the site, as well as a 1939 stone carriage house.
Built in 1928, Weatherwolde Castle is a rare exotic-style residence designed to resemble a French Normandy 16th century castle. Weatherwolde is a Saxon word that means "snug within from the weather."
The developer had recently purchased the property after completing new homes on a nearby parcel. The castle's previous owner, who approached Anderson offering to sell the house, sold the property at a price of $580,000. The developer has said he conducted a title search, but found nothing to indicate its historic significance. For proponents of a citywide historic resources survey in Los Angeles, this is one instance where such information would have proven valuable.
Alerted by concerned neighbors, members of the Little Landers Historical Society and the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council contacted the Historical Society of Crescenta Valley and Crescenta Valley Heritage for assistance in opposing the impending demolition. These organizations in turn enlisted the help of Gina Zamparelli, a La Canada resident and President of the Friends of the Raymond Theatre, who issued a formal press release to the media and contacted city officials.
On Monday morning approximately 50 protesters arrived at the property prepared to stop bulldozers. News crews from KNBC, KTLA and KCAL were also there to cover the event, with a number of helicopters flying overhead, taking aerial footage.
Through the efforts of Los Angeles City Councilmember Wendy Greuel, a principal inspector for code enforcement for the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety arrived a short time later and issued a stop work order because no permits had been pulled. Greuel also arranged for a special session of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission on Wednesday, July 20th, to consider the Weatherwolde Castle for designation as a Historic-Cultural Monument.
The Los Angeles City Council met on Tuesday morning to discuss the matter and voted to recommended the property for historical status. The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission subsequently voted unanimously, 4-0, to take the Historic-Cultural Monument nomination for the castle under consideration, effectively stopping further demolition. The Commission will make its final decision on August 17th.
Acknowledging the property's historic significance, the developer may now retain the Weatherwolde Castle and construct only two houses on the adjacent lot.
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