This last week several of us from the San Fernando Valley went before the California Redevelopment Association on behalf of the historic Lankershim Station in North Hollywood.
Richard Hilton's comments to the CRA Board, about the importance of history were so important, that I have asked his permission to share them with the entire Museum Community of the San Fernando Valley.
Gerald Fecht President The Museum of the San Fernando Valley
My name is Richard Hilton. I am a member of the Save the Depot Committee. I am also a docent at the Heritage Square Museum and have served as the Volunteer Representative on its Board of Directors. I am a docent at the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, as well as conducting four neighborhood tours for the LA Conservancy at Highland Park, City of San Pedro, Angelino Heights and the USC Campus. I am currently creating an historical walking tour of the Van Nuys Civic Center and business core.
I and thousands of petition signers view the Depot not only as a major icon for the important history of North Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley as a whole, but as an irretrievable building block for quality of life issues, both present and future.
In its heyday it was the Gateway to the Valley, and remains appropriately positioned to continue to be that in the context of existing transportation projects. It was a catalyst for original growth and development of North Hollywood, and therefore, can be a key asset for future development. As HUD Secretary Mel Martinez said: "Preserving and rehabilitating architectural treasures often underpins more widespread community renewal programs, and provides future generations with a greater sense of appreciation for their community."
History reflects change and continuity in traditional cultural values. It plays a key role in providing an understanding of identity and a sense of belonging to a place or community that new architecture cannot. History is a part of our culture – like a painting or the theatre. Maintaining culture and sophistication is the sign of a conscious society. It is part of our value system, so that the physical presence of any piece of history makes it more real.
The Depot is surrounded by street names like Weddington, Bakman, Toluca, Bonner, Klump, and Hartsook, all honoring the area’s familial origins, and the depot with its interpretative potential can bridge that past to the present and future.
To see the Depot as it was will peak people’s interests, but to walk inside and see the bead board wainscoting and bare lighting, the potbelly stove and wavy glass, to stand where Valley pioneers stood actually transforms their experience to the visceral.
Without our memory, we cannot go forward. History allows us to reflect on what we did right and what we did wrong. The relevance of historical perspective cannot be underplayed and architectural reminders such as this are essential to a community’s core.
I applaud your efforts in allowing all of us to see history up close. Not just to look at a photo and get nostalgic, but to touch it and to let it touch us, and therefore, teach us.