On May 5 at the Annual West Adams Heritage Association (WAHA) Preservation Brunch, she was recognized for her untiring efforts to defend against the encroachment of unenlightened development, to maintain the historic, architectural integrity in West Adams and to keep ongoing awareness of these issues front and center in the community by being awarded the Martin Weil Award. Martin Weil, who passed in 2009, was a local luminary in the world of preservation. Among his numerous accomplishments, he was a founding member of the Los Angeles Conservancy and a member of WAHA. WAHA created the award to honor Weil, making him the first recipient while he was still alive. It now honors the local heroes and heroines of preservation.
Laura has been a prime instigator and/or partner in getting 21 local buildings awarded Historical Cultural Monument (HCM) status. The South Seas House on Arlington below the 10 Freeway was referred to as the Witch’s House for many years because of its crumbling roof and ragged peaked gables and dilapidated exterior. It was headed for demolition before Laura and others stepped in, found the money and team for construction and began to plan the rehab. Councilman Nate Holden and members of the Council District 10 office stepped up, found over a million dollars to help restore it, and the house opened as a community resource for Parks and Recreation in 2003.
Laura is especially interested in the rich African-American history embedded in almost every neighborhood in West Adams. She coordinated the research, writing and editing of WAHA’s “West Adams Landmarks of African- American History,” which tells the stories of nearly 150 local sites associated with black history and personages.
One of her most beloved projects is the annual Living History Tour which takes place in the Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, one of the oldest cemetaries in Los Angeles, located on Washington and Normandie. As one of the WAHA coordinators of the event, she is tasked with researching the historic people buried there, finding actors to play them and writing the monologues about their lives. Audiences hike through the beautiful cemetery as the tour guide points out special graveyard features while directing them to the various gravesites where costumed actors deliver their historic story. It is one of the favorite community events of the year.
To read more about the different Living History Tour events, CLICK HERE .