Membership Matters


Member Spotlight: Mary Alice Wollman & Bob Brennan

By Liz Leshin

The L.A. Conservancy interviewed two longtime Conservancy supporters, volunteers, and Pillar Society members: Mary Alice Wollam and Bob Brennan,. The usband and wife team met while volunteering on a Conservancy special tour! Here is their story.

“In 1989, I was helping to organize the Case Study House tour with my partners Annette Andreozzi and Tom Gardner, and we needed a volunteer photographer,” recalls Mary Alice. “A staff member called me with a name, which I wrote down as ‘Bob Somebody’ on a work memo pad.”

That note, now framed, hangs in Bob and Mary Alice’s utility room. Brought together by the Conservancy and a love of great architecture, the couple married in 1991.

LAC: Why do you continue to volunteer with the Conservancy?

Mary Alice: My first volunteer job (in 1984) was as a Bullocks Wilshire docent and this simply changed my life. My relationship with the building has lasted almost 34 years. I still give tours [of this building] to young people for the Conservancy’s Adventures in Architecture program. I never tire of being a docent and sharing local architecture and it always thrills me to visit to a new building.

LAC: Why did you join the Conservancy?

Bob: Ironically it was a mail solicitation…that was the genesis of me joining. The enticing images of Los Angeles building details, mostly of the Fine Arts building, spurred me into opening the envelope and digesting the contents. And I joined!

I wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem, and the Conservancy’s mission to preserve worthwhile architecture and history was then, and is now, of fundamental importance.

LAC: Why is Conservancy membership important?

Mary Alice: There is so much about Los Angeles to appreciate—the history, the people, the architecture, visiting buildings and neighborhoods… and the fact that Los Angeles, whether in person or via books, continually unfolds to reveal new surprises. I grew up in Tujunga and remember driving around Los Angeles with my family. We bought our Christmas trees right off the train cars near Alameda, we ate dinner at the Tick Tock and browsed at the Pickwick Bookshop. The Los Angeles Public Library was always a source of inspiration and comfort.

LAC: What do you feel the Conservancy brings to the preservation conversation in Los Angeles?

Mary Alice: Conservancy education programs serve as a gateway for people to think about preservation. Docents give tourgoers the tools to see and understand buildings, neighborhoods, architectural styles, and social and cultural history, all of which inspire people to think about the vital role that the built environment plays in their lives and the life of the community.

LAC: Why have you chosen to be a member of the Conservancy’s planned giving program, Pillar Society?

Mary Alice: Between us, Bob and I have spent about sixty-five years as Los Angeles Conservancy members. We belong to the Pillar Society so our interest in preservation will continue in the future.

Bob: I have always wished that more Angelenos would find out about our history and culture, and cherish it. And be active Conservancy members! May the Conservancy always be the foremost advocate of preserving our architecture, our history, our culture!

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