At this time in our financial history as a country, nothing is more appropriate than restoring and memorializing the two buildings in Plummer Park that represent our last vestige of the WPA – when the government, in an attempt to reduce the deleterious effects of the Great Depression, created what came to known as the Works Project Administration.
Long Hall and Great Hall still stand as example of how things were built in those times – built to last. Sadly these halls have been allowed to deteriorate through a simple lack of care. The last thing suggested was to knock 'em down and dig a parking structure. Now the state has put them up for the list of Historic Places in the state (due largely to the work and talent of volunteers who cherish Plummer Park. They know who they are).
Why do these two roomy and beautifully constructed halls sit empty? I have heard lack of interest, facile stories of how decrepit and dangerous they are and how their demolition will enable the city to steamroll through this lovely park hell bent on underground parking.
let's us know that despite the effort of the Plummer Park group and the nomination by the state to the register, they still have the right to destroy the only WPA buildings in West Hollywood – buildings that numerous residents and voters want to remain. What to do?
The State Rehab money is gone. I am not certain the status of the Bond issue money, but I suspect that rehabbing the two halls is affordable TODAY. These conjoined (with a tiled patio) “halls” still have their bones. Our historical architect Jen Dunbar vetted the buildings and declared them to be sound and redeemable. Age has touched them, as it has all of us.
They are over 70 years old, but in history and buildings that is really just a few minutes. They are functional, usable and valuable to us as part of our fairly recent history – when jobs were scarce and FDR put the country to work. These stand as an example of just how well that work was done.
Why do these small wooden buildings even matter? Well for one they evoke an era very similar to our own and stand as a reminder of what we can do in such times. They are built of top grade material and constructed with craftsmanship not often seen these days anywhere. They anchor our park. And the subject of historic buildings seemed to be very much on the lips of our council members earlier this summer as they spoke of the duty to preserve pieces of WeHo’s past.
As it so happens my godson went to Head Start in one of the halls in 1990 – 22 years ago! – it was a charming room and suited the preschoolers very nicely and it felt like a little school. Its replacement is downright ugly. They might have at least painted it red.
And to those who insist preserving these buildings impedes progress, more than ever these two little halls honor progress, determination and America’s commitment to its citizens. Created by unsung, unemployed men and women struggling for a living, there are years of service built into them. Let them serve us and let them remind us all of where we have been and where we are going.