Chattel is celebrating its 20th anniversary! As part of our celebration, we thought it would be fun to look back on how Chattel has grown over two decades and catch up with former "Chattelites."
Since its founding in 1994 by Robert Jay Chattel, AIA, President, the firm has grown from two employees to include eight full-time staff members, with seven meeting the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards in architectural history, historic architecture, history, and architecture. We enjoy working and hanging out together, especially when good food and drink are involved. In February 2010, Esther joined our staff as a full-time compassionate listener and part-time surveyor. Esther provides an often unheard of ground-level perspective and insists on participating in every conference call and meeting.
Chattel lunches at Le Figaro in Los Angeles
Esther stays up to speed on the latest fashion trends reading Modern Dog magazine
After moving in 2004 to a storefront office on Ventura Boulevard in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles, we expanded in 2011 to occupy space on the second floor of our building. In 2012 Chattel opened its second California office in downtown San Francisco at Stevenson Place, staffed by Shannon Ferguson and Justin Greving.
Chattel LA office expansion
Chattel SF is located at Stevenson Place
Chattel, Inc. works on projects throughout California, in Las Vegas and most recently, in Seattle. We have worked on many large-scale, complex projects. Each project presents unique challenges, but our approach is always consistent: balancing continuity and change. On most projects, we work closely with the project reviewers with whom we have developed long term relationships based on mutual respect. Our recommendations reflect that experience and are aimed at streamlining reviewer approval. For the past several years, Chattel has been managing historic preservation projects at Santa Barbara Mission, including work being implemented under a federal Save America's Treasures (SAT) matching grant, administered by the National Park Service with the help of California Missions Foundation. And since 2010, the firm has served as consultant to the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources, reviewing Mills Act application materials and conducting pre-approval inspections of 50-70 eligible properties each year. Chattel also prepares Mills Act contract applications for private property owners including 1772 Vallejo Street (Burr House) in San Francisco and 128 Hollister Avenue in Santa Monica.
Kathryn McGee and Robert Chattel with Saint Barbara conserved by Griswold Conservation Associates on the 1820 Mission church facade
1878 Burr House in San Francisco received a Mills Act Contract in 2013
Where are they now?
Many of our former colleagues have gone on to do great work in preservation and related fields. Here we highlight some of the exciting work they’ve been pursuing recently.
After my time at Chattel, I moved back to the East Coast to get degrees in law and city planning. I worked at a law firm doing land use and zoning work in New York City for a few years, and last summer I moved to Philadelphia, where I practice land use and real estate law at Ballard Spahr. I was recently involved in a preservation project, representing the redeveloper of the Art Deco style Boyd Theater (1928) in Center City. Most of my free time is spent chasing my two kids, who will soon be old enough to play ultimate frisbee with me.
In 2009, I was offered a position as a Historical Architect with the National Park Service at Yosemite National Park. My most challenging and exciting project at Yosemite to date is my role as both a member of the steering committee and the primary architectural reviewer for the rehabilitation of the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, designed in 1926 by the Los Angeles-based architect, Gilbert Stanley Underwood. In 2010, I was awarded both a Helen L. Bing fellowship and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation fellowship at the Huntington Library in San Marino. These fellowships allowed me to be in residency at the library for two months as I conducted ongoing research for my doctoral dissertation on the development of Pueblo Revival Style architecture in the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. In the fall of 2013, I successfully defended my dissertation, and received my Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Virginia. In my free time, I enjoy exploring cities and towns throughout California, learning to surf, and teaching human communication skills to my recently adopted puppy named Stella.
After working with Chattel from 2009-2011, I worked with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on the Watts Towers Conservation Project for three years, where I led the site team performing conservation maintenance and conducted research for a long-range conservation plan. I now work on contract to museum, architectural, and archaeological projects, including Boston University’s Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (http://www.bu.edu/clas/) in Turkey in summer 2014.
Since leaving Chattel 2013, I completed a Masters Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA, and began working for Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI) a non-profit organization. As a Program Manager at LANI, I oversee the community outreach, design, and implementation of community improvement projects. I have managed the renovation of three playgrounds and a median, and I'm currently developing a new pocket park and managing an alleyway renovation.
I recently accepted the position as an Associate Planner - Historic Preservation at the City of Orange. The City of Orange has one of the largest National Register of Historic Places-listed historic districts in California, along with three tracts of mid-century Eichler houses that the City is working on designating as local historic districts. I am also working on improving and updating the City's preservation policies to better protect Orange's diverse historic resources.
During my time interning with Chattel, the US-International Council of Monuments and Sites selected me to participate in their 2005 international exchange program, traveling to Yaroslavl, Russia where I worked with local groups to survey and preserve a historic working-class community. After completing my internship with Chattel, I was hired as the inaugural Preservation Planner for the City of Los Angeles’ Office of Historic Resources in 2006, overseeing the Historic-Cultural Monument landmarks program. Since then, I have been profiled by KCET’s Departures series for my extensive work on the L.A. River and its historic bridges, was a speaker for both the ALOUD lecture series on the L.A. River and the Bauhaus University’s 2010 International Model Project Forum in Weimar, Germany. In 2012, I curated an exhibition highlighting the 50th anniversary of L.A.’s municipal preservation program and served as a Diversity Scholar for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 2012, the Getty Foundation awarded me a Leadership in Arts Management professional development grant for my contributions in the field of historic preservation and cultural resource management. Most recently, I was awarded a Diversity Scholarship by Historic New England and was also named a Fitch Scholar by the James Marston Fitch Foundation for my research and study of the Chicano Movement’s contributions to architecture and design. In 2013, I joined the administration of Mayor Eric Garcetti to oversee the rehabilitation of the historic Getty House, the official residence of the Mayor of Los Angeles.