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(by the L.A. Conservancy's Modern Committee)

There has been a tremendous resurgence of interest in the Modern era: buildings, furniture, decor, fashion and music. By recognizing this renewed interest, you can take advantage of your modern property in highly profitable ways. All types of Modern buildings are popular again: motels, hotels, restaurants, cocktail lounges, offices, retail stores, banks, supermarkets, bowling alleys, theaters and many others.

Is Your Building Modern?

Usually built between 1940 and 1965, Modern buildings tend to have clean, simple lines, a minimum of applied decoration, lots of glass, a flat or angled roofline and use materials such as formica, aluminum, stainless steel, flagstone or terrazzo. Often, signage will be neon, metal or plastic, with unique typefaces.

Don't Renovate or Remodel: RESTORE!

There's more money to be made in restoring Modern buildings than in converting them to an inappropriate style. Customers want an authentic experience; reproductions are never a substitute for the original. It's often easier and less expensive to clean and restore original features than to cover-up, remove or demolish them.

Interiors, Exteriors & Landscaping

Original Modern interiors, furnishings, lighting, flooring, walls and surfaces are just as important as the exterior facade. Original landscaping also adds to your builiding's value. Updating a Modern building with a different style (Spanish, Art Deco, Colonial, Southwestern) typically ruins its appearance and destroys its character. Respect the original period or "retro" look of your Modern building... Your customers will.

Happy Days vs. Rat Pack

The poodle skirt, rock and roll '50s of Elvis and TV's Happy Days" is passť. The cool, sleek, high-end sophistication of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack is what's hot. OUT: juke boxes, fake diners, glass blocks, chrome. IN: plate glass walls, terrazzo floors, Eames furniture, mood lighting.

Historic Designation

It's not necessary to apply for historic designation for your property, but it can often help. There are several types of formal designation: local, state and federal. Benefits can include: Property tax reductions up to 50% (via the Mills Act,) and a Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit of 20%.

Historic Designation Can Increase Business

These modern buildings have been formally recognized for their historic significance. Historic designation has led to solid commercial success.

Los Angeles, 1962
Pereira, Luckman, Beckett, Williams, architects.
Designated as Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Monument in 1994 (exterior and lobby). Encounter restaurant remodeled by Disney Imagineering. A popular and successful lunch dinner and cocktails destination. (Photo from postcard)

Ladera Heights, 1958
Armet & Davis, architects
Coffee shop, drive-in, cocktail lounge. Closed in 1987, designated California Point of Historic Interest same year. Adaptively reused in 1996 as Simply Wholesome Foods, combination health food restaurant and store. (Photo by Jack Laxner)


Hollywood, 1963
Welton, Becket & Associates, architects
Being fully restored and incorporated into a new retail and theater complex.


Bob's Big Boy
Toluca Lake, 1949
Wayne McAllister, architect
Designated California State Point of Historic Interest in 1993. The owner invested in restoration and heavily promoted the building's historic status (bronze plaque, menu, advertising) and merchandised (T-shirts, dolls, key chains, calendars, banks). Number one top revenue producing Big Boy in the United States.

Mac Donald's
Downey, 1953
Stanley Meston, architect
America's oldest original golden-arched McDonald's. Determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Closed after 1994 earthquake. Restored in 1997. Reopened with museum and gift shop on premises.

Learn More!

To learn more about taking advantage of your historic Modern property, please contact the Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee at 213-623-CITY or online at

The text on this page comes from materials provided by the Los Angeles Conservancy's Modern Committee, written by Pete Moruzzi
The link to Biff's/JJ's at the top of this page is in no way related to the L.A. Conservancy or the Modern Committee (MODCOM).