By Robert Sawyer
Digging fervently for a new building foundation, Yovanni Hernandez struck something hard. Working quickly to remove all obstacles in his path for an expected concrete pour the next day, he used a pickaxe and shovel. Dust and dirt flying, he made his way around the obstacle which was too heavy to get out. Quietly he called me over to take a look at the solid metal rusted firmly into a whole piece.
Should he continue to try and dig it out or leave it? We decided it was in the best interest of the house, and the footing, to be free of artifacts. “Dig it out” I told him. After about an hour he claimed victory and what he pulled out was incredible. A ship’s anchor chain. But how did it get here? We were about a stone’s throw from the beach. Could it have been a shipwreck? How old was it? How long does it take for this type of metal to coalesce into a solid
These were all questions for Rob Nelson, owner of the project and local resident. Upon further investigation of the site and footing areas we continued to find more historical artifacts: a horseshoe, then two, a stirrup. This was getting very interesting. A glimpse into the real Southern California history up-close and personal. Was this material from a dusty watering hole along the original Mission Trail? Yes probably, there was an old stop located in this general vicinity.
In total about 23 pieces of solid metal materials were discovered including a knife blade, and wagon pieces. All of these artifacts will be on display at the Westchester/Playa Historical Society’s new DiscoveryCenter located in the Westchester Triangle 6207 W 87th St., Los Angeles, California 90045.
Besides an interactive educational center, the center also has an extensive and secure archive collection, which houses historical photos and news of the Westchester/Playa area. Under the direction of Cozette Vergari, the center has incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3. The center will be open in August for visitors and reservations can be made through their web site; www.wphistoricalsociety.org. In conjunction with the Book Jewel Bookstore and to meet the State mandate of teaching local history to 4th & 9th graders, the Discovery Center will be providing classroom instructions beginning this upcoming school year.
Classes will teach the importance of historical preservation, interactive presentations, and technological advancements as well as reviewing some of the incredible firsts and accomplishments of citizens of the area. Among these are Howard Hughes, Howard Drollinger, The Turtles, and Pat Russell to name a few.
Notable architecture in the area includes the LAX Theme Building designed by Paul R. Williams and built in 1961, which is a cultural and historical monument. Eldon Davis’ Googie style example of classic coffee shop architecture at Pann’s restaurant at 6710 La Tijera Boulevard, and my own masterpiece of modern utopia architecture at 401 Redlands St. Playa del Rey.
Photo by David Russell, Architecture by Lara Hoad, Graphics: David Russell & Hunter Culberson
Board Members :
Cozette Vergari, Chair, Marcelo Cruz, David Russell, Art Wexler, Mike Heffernan