W. N. Caldwell Residence
The W. N. Caldwell Residence, a 1926 Spanish Colonial Revival residence in Beverly Hills designed by master architect Wallace Neff (who is included on the City of Beverly Hills' official list of master architects), has been in the spotlight for much of the past year. The owner of the home at 805 North Linden Drive applied for a demolition permit in September 2013. While the owner now no longer seeks demolition and recently announced plans to list the property for sale in the future, the house became an important test case for Beverly Hills’ new demolition review process established through the City’s 2012 City of Beverly Hills' preservation ordinance.
Under this new process, if a building proposed for demolition is related to an individual or firm on the City’s list of master architects, a hold is required before the issuance of permits for demolition, alteration, or remodeling. The City’s Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) can initiate a historic assessment of the property. If the property meets two or more of the city’s landmark designation criteria, CHC members can vote to recommend landmark designation to the City Council..
Based on the historic assessment of the Caldwell Residence, the CHC voted unanimously on July 9 to recommend designation of the property. However, in late July, the property owner notified the City of their plans to sell the house, withdrew their pending request for demolition, and requested that the CHC rescind its motion recommending landmark designation.
In June 2013, the Caldwell Residence was sold to a new owner, who in September applied to the City of Beverly Hills for a demolition permit. On October 9, 2013, members of the Beverly Hills Cultural Heritage Commission voted to begin the local landmark process by asking staff to prepare a report that evaluates the significance of the W. N. Caldwell Residence. However, on November 8, 2013, the owners of the residence temporarily withdrew their request for a demolition permit.
With the upswing in the economy and real estate market, residential teardowns are once again on the rise, often affecting older and historic neighborhoods. In 2002, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed Teardowns in Historic Neighborhoods on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.
The Conservancy believes the building is a significant historic property that warrants consideration of preservation alternatives before any approvals might be granted for demolition.