UPDATE ON THE HISTORIC CONNELL HOUSE IN PEBBLE BEACH
On Thursday, March 6, 2014, the Monterey County Historic Resources Review Board (HRRB) met. On the agenda was a request from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for review and comments on the Arthur and Kathleen Connell House National Register of Historic Places nomination.
At the conclusion of their discussion, the HRRB directed the Monterey County Planning Staff to draft a letter recommending that the Connell House be added to the State and National Registers. This letter will be sent to the State Historic Preservation Office and will be included in the packet for the SHPO’s conference at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove on April 22, 2014.
Details of the discussion on the Connell House National Register of Historic Places nomination are below:
The HRRB members heard comments from the public (including Alliance of Monterey Area Preservationist Board Members Mike Dawson, Mark Norris and Jeffrey Becom; attorney Tony Lombardo on behalf of Connell House neighbor Sam Reeve; and Monterey Bay Modernism leader Karen Lesney.)
All public comments were strongly in favor of the HRRB supporting the State and National Register designations.
In his comments Mike Dawson informed the HRRB that AMAP had taken the lead in calling for the National Register designation by funding the historic report on behalf of Connell House preservation written by architectural historian Anthony Kirk and Richard Neutra expert Barbara Lamprecht. He emphasized how much time, effort, research and money has gone into this process and how firmly he believes that the Connell House deserves to be saved.
Attorney Tony Lombardo expressed his concern that the Connell House is in danger of loss due to intentional neglect. He hopes the HRRB can recommend that the current owner be put on notice that this neglect cannot continue.
Karen Lesney read aloud a letter written by Sally Anne Smith, AIA Monterey Bay and Director of the Committee on the Environment for the Monterey Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. In this letter, Ms. Smith focuses on Richard Neutra’s importance in California and National architectural history with the purpose of encouraging the HRRB to support the Connell House National Registry nomination. Karen echoed this support in her own words.
Jeffrey Becom spoke about how quickly the nomination is moving through the process and asked the HRRB to quickly move forward with their support for saving the Connell House.
Responding to Tony Lombardo's concern, Mark Norris stated that in his long involvement in the saving of the historic Old Jail in Salinas, he had learned that as soon as a property is determined to be eligible for State or National Historic status, its owner must treat the home as if it was already on these registers.
There were no opposing views expressed. The home’s current owner was not present nor was her attorney.
After the close of the public hearing, the HRRB members individually expressed support for saving the Connell House, except for one member, Judy MacClelland, who had to recues herself because she was the AMAP Board Member who first moved that AMAP fund the historic report by Kirk/Lamprecht for Connell House inclusion on the National Register.
The HRRB members all believe strongly in the thoroughness and accuracy of the Kirk/Lamprecht report. They said the report was so complete it didn't leave any questions unanswered. They were all in agreement that losing the Connell House would be a loss for the entire Monterey County community.
One member added that this Neutra home is possibly unique in being the only Neutra design on the Pacific Coast (vs. those in the hills overlooking Los Angeles or those in the Palm Springs desert region).
Another member, Sal Muñoz, recounted that when he was an architecture student in Southern California, he and his classmates had the tremendous opportunity to spend an entire day with Neutra in Neutra's own home.
Another member said they looked up the different statuses of American architects over the past century and found that Richard Neutra was included in the “masters” category.
Several members stated that they firmly believe the Connell House meets the criteria in the State and National Registers (particular Criteria “C” for the Modernist Style: master architect, unique setting, exemplary design, etc..).