News & Advocacy

Santa Monica Conservancy Nominates Civic Auditorium to National Register of Historic Places: Opens Door for Additional Preservation Incentives

November 24, 2023

Read the Application here.

The Conservancy strongly supports preservation and revitalization of Santa Monica’s Civic Auditorium. As a community benefit, historic preservation provides a framework and toolkit for developing community consensus and support for revitalization of the Civic Auditorium. With this in mind, the Conservancy recently submitted a nomination for the Civic Auditorium to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) to raise awareness and visibility for this stunning example of Mid-Century Modern architecture.

The application describes the architectural merits and cultural significance of the building, and the importance of the underlying site which tells an important story about the City, its people, and its place in history.

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of buildings, structures, objects, sites, and districts worthy of preservation. Listed properties have a high level of architectural or historic significance, an intangible benefit that is nonetheless valuable.

Listing in the Register is honorific, recognizing important places, and does not affect property rights or add additional regulatory requirements beyond those already established with city zoning and Landmark status.

As a financial incentive, listing in the NRHP does provide opportunities for federal and state tax incentives to attract private investment, as well as grants and use of State Historic Building Code alternative that could make a critical difference when analyzing the feasibility of any project or venture. See the Fact Sheet here.

The Santa Monica Conservancy continues to explore possibilities for new educational outreach and partnerships, streamlining of regulatory processes, and incentivizing proposals that take advantage of this unique opportunity to create a vibrant new future for an important community resource and introduce the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium to the next generation.

The City has just completed the Surplus Land Act Process (a state-mandated process, FAQ here) that will now allow for sale, lease, or partnership opportunities in considering next steps for revitalization.

The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium is an iconic Mid-Century Modern landmark designed by master architect Welton Becket. Designated as a City Landmark in 2001, today the Civic Auditorium is an endangered building in a precarious situation, despite its landmark status. Welton Becket’s 1958 innovative modern architecture retains a very high degree of historic authenticity, but the structure is seismically deficient by today’s standards and its systems are outdated. It has been closed since 2013.

IMAGES Left: The Civic Auditorium in 1958, photograph by Julius Shulman. Credit: © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. Right: The Civic Auditorium in 2023. Credit: Stephen Schafer Photography.

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