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A Sign of the Times

By Allen Hazard

Efforts to develop a sign to recognize the Mission Hills Historic District began in April 2007. Janet O'Dea stands in front of one of the first historic district signs installed along Sunset Boulevard. Photo by Allen Hazard

The Mission Hills Historic District was the city's first resident-driven district and national coverage received in American Bungalow and Style 1900 may have caused city officials to take notice.

Or perhaps, city staffers came to value the efforts of volunteers such as Janet O'Dea, one proponent of the District, such that the outcome ultimately resulted in a favorable win. In early 2007, a proposal to develop the sign was submitted and approved. The design emulates the city's historic home plaques, which include the city seal, and provides a unifying theme throughout the city's historic neighborhoods.

Upon seeing the sign in Mission Hills one knows they are in a historic district, thereby enabling the awareness and appreciation of Craftsman, Spanish Revival and Prairie School designs by such notables as Emmor Brooke Weaver, Richard Requa, William Hebbard, Henry Preibisius, Del Harris, Henry Lord Gay, William Wahrenburger, Marvin Melhorn, Nathan Rigdon and Morris Irvin, and others. Whereas the sign does not provide insight into the lives of celebrated original owners, such as R.E. "Pappy" Hazard, Rough Rider Thomas Rynning, singer Alice Stevenson, architect Frank P. Allen, poet John Cheney, brickmaker Forrest Hieatt, newspaper tycoon Milton McRae, and tuna merchant Wiley Ambrose, it does serve as an educational tool in that it may create curiosity in passersby, who will want to know about the beginnings of the neighborhood and the people who were critical to its growth.

In December 2009, nearing the 102nd anniversary of the subdivision, the Mission Hills Historic District sign was erected along Sunset Boulevard. Now, the Burlingame Historic District also has a sign on Laurel Street with hopes of many more to come.

Volume 41 - 2010

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