Awards given for new development and redevelopment enhancing and preserving historic character
By Craig Breon for Ashland.news
“What happens in the past leads to what the present is and directs what the future will be.”
So said Tom Giordano as he received a distinguished service award from the Ashland Historic Preservation Advisory Committee at the appropriately historic Butler Bandshell in equally historic Lithia Park on Wednesday, May 17. The committee celebrated National Historic Preservation Week with a series of awards followed by a tour of homes and businesses in the city’s downtown.
Ashland Mayor Tonya Graham led off the event, reading a resolution passed by the City Council, calling out city staff, volunteers, local architects, contractors and landowners for their efforts to ensure that new development enhances rather than undermines Ashland’s unique character.
Following Graham, various members of the advisory committee took to the stage to praise and award the efforts of builders and rebuilders in a variety of categories. The nine-member Ashland Historic Preservation Advisory Committee was formed in the 1970s to designate buildings and areas of historic value and recommend ordinances and guidelines for development to preserve and enhance those values over time. The Historic Preservation Awards began in 2003.
The first award, for Historically Compatible Multi-Family Development, went to a cluster of structures at 158 to 166 North Laurel St. Beginning around 1920, first a single-family home was built, and then several secondary residences were built on the property, but had fallen into poor repair over time. Rather than removing the buildings, landowners Vadim Agakhanov and Kim Locklin chose to extensively remodel them, preserving some of the best features while improving upon lesser design elements. Vadim, himself a designer and builder, led the effort to convert the main house into a duplex, remodel other structures, and add three new, craftsman-style cottages in the rear.
For Historically Compatible Second Unit, the award went to Carol Dallagiacomo-Rhodes for her new cottage at 761 Main St. Carol grew up in the main house on the property — a two-story Queen Anne home built in 1895 — and had long wanted to replace the old garage/workshop at the rear of the property with a second unit. Carol herself will now occupy the 500-square-foot cottage, which retains elements of the old garage.
In recent years, Ashland has developed new rules and guidelines encouraging second units on residential properties in town. These units often provide needed affordable housing.
The former Hank’s Foreign Auto shop at 145 North Main St. received an award for Historically Compatible Mixed-Use Building. The 1936 colonial revival structure, likely first used as a gas station, has served as home to various auto-related businesses over time. Purchased in 2018 by award-winners BC Partners LLC and Eric Bonetti, the remodel retains much of the look of the original while making improvements such as an extensive brick driveway, replacing asphalt.
Lastly, another Historically Compatible Mixed-Use Building award was bestowed on Randy Jones and Mike Maher for their large office and condominium building at 143 to 145 North First St., across from the post office. While admittedly more modern in design than the other award recipients, Plaza North, as it is known, follows on two other stages of nearby development, Plaza East and West, both of which received past awards. All are deemed to fit into the downtown while adding architectural diversity. Plaza North also achieved LEED Platinum certification, the highest standard for sustainable development offered by the U.S. Green Building Council.
In addition to the building awards, Tom Giordano and Keith Swink — two longstanding members of the Ashland Historic Preservation Advisory Committee — were recognized with Distinguished Service awards. Giordano began his career as a city planner in Santa Barbara, while Swink started as a carpenter and contractor in Los Angeles. Giordano related a story of his grandfather’s opera performance in Ashland 109 years ago. Swink urged the audience and the city to remember the “lost stories” of indigenous people and others such as Chinese railroad workers who have contributed richly to the region’s history.
Following the awards, Ashland historian Peter Finkle hosted a tour of several historic elements of the downtown. Beginning with the origins of Lithia Park in the Chautauqua Park Club’s acquisition of eight acres along Ashland Creek around 1900, the small group of budding historians moved on to the Butler-Perozzi Fountain, imported from San Francisco after the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition (i.e. World’s Fair).
Granite Street was next, with the homes of Butler and Perozzi featured, as well as a representative sampling of Craftsman, Victorian, Queen Anne and other historic styles.
The tour ended in Ashland Plaza, highlighting buildings such as the 1879 Oddfellows Lodge and the original Ashland Bank. Both buildings have undergone extensive remodels while retaining much of their historic facades.
Email Ashland resident, lawyer and former environmental law instructor Craig Breon at email@example.com.
May 21 update: The name Hank’s Foreign Auto was corrected.