The Whittier Conservancy has spent over a quarter century preserving and protecting Whittier.
It was the 1987 earthquake and its aftermath that generated public outrage at the direction the city was taking by allowing inappropriate development to further damage the historic Uptown residential areas.
As houses lay in ruins, the neighborhood was besieged by out-of-town developers who were replacing hundred year old Craftsman bungalows with shoddy, two-story blocks of ten-unit apartment buildings. While Mother Nature had dealt us one blow, our beloved community was being hit by an aftershock that was clearly “man-made.” Neighbors gathered together to see what could be done to save Uptown. The first meeting of Save our Historic Buildings set out to save the historic Lindley building at the corner of Hadley and Greenleaf; next was the five-year battle for the Whittier Theater; and then there was the entire North of Hadley residential district. Scores of neighbors stood firm to protect Whittier’s character and history and from these coalitions, the Whittier Conservancy was born.
Incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 1988, the group moved forward at lightning speed to protect the historic North of Hadley residential area by forcing the city to adhere to the California Environmental Quality Act, its own General Plan, and updated zoning practices. The rest is history. Next came the down-zoning battle to save Central Park homes from being torn down and replaced by quickly and poorly constructed apartment buildings. During the 1990s we became a political reality in Whittier, successfully lobbying for a historic resources commission, an accompanying ordinance to validate and shore up the historic principles we worked so hard for, and moved on to other quality of life issues the community was facing.
But we didn’t stop at historic preservation. Realizing that a house is only as stable as its block, the block is only as good as the neighborhood, and the neighborhood is dependent on good schools, a safe environment, and a respect for the physical surroundings, we re-defined our mission. In 1992, the Conservancy led the charge to stop Chevron from developing the Whittier/ Puente Hills and was successful in passing Proposition A, which led to the purchase and permanent preservation of the hills that form the backdrop of our city. We have fought hard for a comprehensive tree protection policy and have helped other neighborhoods when challenges have arisen where our expertise can be a benefit.
- Central Park Historic Overlay, 1988
- Re-zoning of North of Hadley, Prohibiting Apartment Construction, 1989
- The Casey House, 1989
- The Dorland House, 1990
- Worsham Canyon, 1991
- Prop “A” for Parks & Open Space, 1992
- The Historic Resources Ordinance, 1993, which led to the enactment of the Mills Act, the creation of our historic districts and The Historic Neighborhood Association
- Lower Uptown Re-zoning & Neighborhood Stabilization, 1993
- Whittier Hills Preserve, 1994, 1998, 2001
- California Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, 1995
- The Whittier Conservancy 110 Tree project, spearheaded by Damon Cofer, 1997
- Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, 1998
- Painter Avenue Ficus Trees, 1999
- Preliminary Inventory of Historic Homes, 2002-2003
- The McGee House, 2004
- California Domestic Water, 2007
- The Greenway Trail, 2008
- Earlham Hall, Whittier College, 2008
- Guilford Hall, Whittier College, 2009
- Greenway Trail Palm Trees, 2009
- National Trust Grant for Earlham Hall, 2010
- Palm Park Rest Station, 2011
- Earlham Historic District, 2012
- Governor’s Preservation Award, 2013
- Whittier Education Grant - 3rd Grade Curriculum for all Whittier City Schools, 2013
- Hadley Median Project Honoring Dorothea Boyd, 2014
- Designation of 61 Historic Homes, 2015