Commission Recommends Landmark Status for Local Church

As the Church of the Good Shepherd approaches its centennial, the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission passed a resolution recommending that the City Council designate the historic property as a local landmark.

During the July 12 meeting, commissioners also discussed new nominations and criteria for Golden Shield awards given to locations that have historical and cultural significance, but don’t meet the bar to become landmarks. 

The landmark nomination for the Church of the Good Shepherd was brought forward by church leadership, with support from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, to celebrate the cultural and historic significance of the Mission-revival style structure at 504 N. Roxbury Drive.

“The church is 100 this year and we’re very excited about that and the fact that its beautiful architecture has been intact through the years,” said parishioner Christine Redlin, who helped initiate the landmark process. “It (the designation) would be a great honor for the parishioners, the church and the community.”

The Church of the Good Shepherd parish was founded in 1923. The church itself was designed by architect James Donnellan in 1924 and the congregation moved into the building in 1925.

The church rises to the height of five stories and has several notable features including two golden-domed bell towers with open arches, a central gabled roof, decorative stained-glass windows and terracotta barrel tiles. 

The Cultural Heritage Commission considered the landmark status petition for the Church of the Good Shepherd on July 12. Pictured (from left): Commissioner Craig Corman, Vice Chair Jill Tavelman Collins, Chair Marc Teren, Rev. Ed Benioff Pastor Church of the Good Shepherd Christine Redlin Parishioner Church of the Good Shepherd, and Commissioner Kimberly Vinokur Reiss Photo by Karen Myron

In 1959, extensive renovations were completed and a main altar and two side altars added. Relics of Saints Felicitas and Perpetua and of Saint Vibiana, patroness of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, were sealed in the side altars.

A 100th-anniversary celebration is set for August 13, with a Centennial Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Los Angeles José Gomez.

In order to ensure that the landmark designation can make its way through city approvals in time for the celebration, the commission initiated the landmark consideration, conducted a public hearing and approved the nomination in one meeting. 

Commissioners found that the church meets the criteria to satisfy a landmark designation recommendation. This includes being at least 45 years of age, possessing high artistic and historic value, embodying the distinctive characteristics of an architectural style and retaining substantial integrity from its period of significance.

“To have an organization and the diocese in such support of this and the fact that we can do it (the designation) as part of a 100-year anniversary is really a phenomenal combination of points of celebration. I hope that it becomes a meaningful part of your celebration,” said Commission Chair Marc Teren, addressing the church representatives at the meeting. 

The nomination will come before City Council for final approval in an upcoming meeting. 

The church was previously identified as a possible site for a future “The Beverly Hills Churches Thematic Grouping” historic district in the city’s 2004 Historic Resources Survey.

“Of the three churches on Santa Monica Boulevard, I definitely feel that the Church of the Good Shepherd is the most visibly iconic,” said Commissioner Kimberly Vinokur Reiss. “I hope that the other churches will follow suit and landmark their buildings as it creates a beautiful thematic grouping in the community.”

After approving the landmark designation, the commission turned its attention to Golden Shield Awards. Every year the City Council grants up to 12 Golden Shield awards based on the recommendations of the Cultural Heritage Commission. 

The Church of the Good Shepherd Photo courtesy city of Beverly Hills

In this meeting, commissioners nominated two new locations for Golden Shield consideration: the Beverly Hills Handbag Studio at 149 South Beverly Drive and the Beverly Hills Bridle Path, which formerly ran along Sunset Boulevard. The handbag studio is especially historic because it was operated by Holocaust Survivor Leopold “Paul” Page, whose life story became the basis for Thomas Keneally’s novel “Schindler’s List,” which was later adapted into an Oscar-winning movie by Steven Spielberg.

The commission also discussed new criteria for the Golden Shield awards in residential neighborhoods, per a request from City Council. Concerns have arisen in the past about how to honor historic residences, while also protecting current residents’ privacy from sightseers. 

After a robust discussion, commissioners agreed to pass on the following recommendations to Council: In order for a residential property to be considered for a Golden Shield award, it must have the support of the current owners, the two direct neighbors, and at least one of the three homes directly opposite the property. In addition, the nomination must not face resistance from 50% or more of the homeowners on that block and within a 100-foot radius 

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