The tide may be turning for those in Beverly Hills who favor maintaining historic elements of , the city’s oldest school, as the district plans Measure E-related renovations for the facility.
At a Board of Education study session held Wednesday, several residents spoke out against current construction plans for Hawthorne that they said would hurt the historical significance of the school. The board earlier this year directed staff to move forward with plans for campus renovations that would demolish much of the original building, some of which dates back to 1921.
“[Hawthorne’s] historic auditorium is the oldest standing structure on campus. It is also possibly one of the oldest buildings in Beverly Hills,” local preservationist Kimberly Reiss told the board. “It goes without saying that this little piece of Beverly Hills history deserves a lot more consideration than it’s being given as just an old school auditorium.”
Reiss, who also , posted her entire speech on the “Save Historic Hawthorne School” Facebook page, which she started. The page has 182 likes as of Friday.
Measure E plans for the school, often referred to as "Option 6," would preserve the façade along North Rexford Drive and the school’s tower, but calls for rebuilding the rest of the school. The cost for that plan is estimated to be $73 million.
Reiss and some other residents favor so-called "Option 7," which would demolish the north and south wings of the campus but preserve the exteriors of Building Group A, the surrounding structures and the historic auditorium. The cost for that plan has been estimated to be about $77 million.
Both renovation estimates are too high, board members said Wednesday, prompting them to reconsider plans to start construction at Hawthorne . Measure E-related construction began this month at Horace Mann.
“I believe it is time to dial it back and see if preserving the entire Building A can both preserve historic Hawthorne and save money for the taxpayers of Beverly Hills,” board President Brian Goldberg told Patch. “I proposed at the study session that we look into leaving Building Group A intact and building a new school on either side to see what—if any—cost savings we can find.”