Michael White Adobe
On September 30, 2014, the Michael White Adobe was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historical Resources. The listing provides additional protections to the historic adobe which sits on the San Marino High School campus.
On August 1, 2014, the State Historical Resources Commission voted to recommend the listing of the Michael White Adobe in the National Register of Historic Places, with the certifying recommendation submitted to the National Park Service for final review and listing by the Keeper of the National Register on September 30. This listing is important to the ongoing fundraising effort of the Friends of the Michael White Adobe (FoMWA).
FoMWA made great strides toward understanding the condition, rehabilitation needs, and potential future uses of the circa 1845 Michael White Adobe.
Using grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Los Angeles County Preservation Fund, FoMWA developed a feasibility study to adapt the adobe into a Hall of Fame for student achievements, and are working on a historic structures report that will guide the rehabilitation and long-term maintenance of the adobe.
FoMWA raised funds for the project and makes the adobe available upon request during non-school hours. Support has come from the San Marino Historical Society, as well as individuals and organizations in the community.
In 2008, the San Marino Unified School District in initiated efforts to demolish the Michael White Adobe for a proposed pool expansion project. The Conservancy commented on the initial study for the pool expansion’s environmental impact report (EIR). We urged the school district to investigate alternatives for retaining the delicate adobe in place and, as a last resort, relocating and restoring the structure.
The Michael White Adobe is locally designated as a San Marino landmark and is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. It was documented under the federal Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in 1935, not long after the program was established in 1933.
The San Marino Unified School District issued a draft EIR in 2009 that abandoned the pool expansion but still proposed to demolish the adobe, claiming it needed to be razed to avoid potential liability. This new plan calls for replacement of the adobe with an asphalt area.
Despite vocal opposition from a diverse cross section of San Marino residents, preservation organizations, and former teachers, students, and parents, the school board ultimately voted to certify the final EIR, which clears the way for the adobe’s demolition. However, in lieu of immediately proceeding with demolition, the board voted to appoint a task force to explore options for the adobe.
The Conservancy was invited to sit on the taskforce along with community members experienced in adobe, preservation, and fundraising. Initially given a mandate of six months, the taskforce has evolved into the Friends of the Michael White Adobe, which secured its 501(c)3 status in late 2010.
The San Marino Historical Society had operated from the adobe for years and led tours for the public and local school children (with the permission of the school district) until about 1998, when they had to vacate the adobe due to campus construction. The adobe has sat vacant ever since.
The circa 1845 Michael White Adobe is one of only thirty-nine nineteenth-century adobes remaining in Los Angeles County. Given the adobe's age and rarity, demolition should not be considered under any circumstance.