Membership Matters


An Interview with Paul Tolbert

By Bruce Scottow

The Conservancy relies on the support of members and volunteers to advocate for historic preservation. As mentioned in our cover story, members fund our work. Volunteers assist us in all of the work we do, from guiding walking tours, to planning and staffing our Last Remaining Seats programming. Our work wouldn’t be possible without them. Paul Tolbert is a Conservancy volunteer and member and here is his story.

I have been fortunate to have always had a job I loved. When I came to California from New Mexico and Texas in 1984, it was battlefield analysis of smart munitions at Aerojet and 15 years later it was analyzing space surveillance satellite data at Northrop Grumman.


These great jobs made it easy to use ‘too much to do at work’ as an excuse for not doing anything in downtown Los Angeles. Then one day I saw a Last Remaining Seats ad for a classic movie I wanted to see, and it was in an old theatre. But I found out too late to go. So I joined the L.A. Conservancy just to get earlier notifications about movies, which worked for a long time.

Then one day, [Volunteer and Program Coordinator] Bruce Scottow emailed members asking if anybody was interested in being on the Last Remaining Seats committee. Here was a chance to see more of the old theaters. Sometime along the way, I started learning something about architecture and preservation. I discovered that helping with events such as the Chinatown and Koreatown tours was much more interesting than just taking the tour.

As I became more involved, I understood how important membership support is to running the Conservancy’s programs, and decided to become a Cornerstone member. I would love to get even more involved as a tour docent except for my primary hobbies: my weekends are filled with grandkids in San Diego who play ice hockey, grandkids in Seal Beach who play soccer, and grandkids in Kansas who come for about a month every summer.

Thank you, Paul, for your dedication!

If you’d like to volunteer with us, visit

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