Historic Context Statements


SurveyLA Industrial
Los Angeles, California

As an important piece of their ongoing SurveyLA project, the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources hired LSA Associates and Chattel as sub-consultants to complete a Historic Context and Reconnaissance Survey focusing on industrial development. The Historic Context followed a specific methodology and format adapted for the SurveyLA project’s custom database, and informed the final phase of SurveyLA fieldwork.

Working in coordination with LSA, Chattel conducted a reconnaissance-level survey of industrial areas throughout the city of Los Angeles to develop and contextualize a list of industrial themes that have affected the built environment of the city. We performed additional historical background research for each theme and suggested changes to the list to best reflect the industrial narratives of the built city and guide future property identification. Ultimately, we produced an extensive narrative context to situate these themes historically and describe their representation in Los Angeles’ built environment.


hollywood Community redevelopment agency
Hollywood, California

Chattel was hired as a prime consultant to prepare historic context statements and intensive-level assessment surveys for the City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. Chattel took responsibility for the Hollywood Redevelopment Project Area, while Westlake and Wilshire/Koreatown were taken by two other consultants on the project, LSA Associates and PCR Services Corporation respectively. To ensure consistency, we worked closely with these firms to discuss progress, difficulties, and solutions in weekly conference calls as well as peer reviewing each other’s work. Chattel also worked with LA Office of Historic Resources staff to dovetail our findings into their (ongoing at the time) citywide SurveyLA project.

Using the National Register multiple property submission approach and an outline of SurveyLA City-wide historic context statement, the Chattel team defined contexts and themes as a hypothesis of property types that were believed to be found in field survey. Chattel started by conducting a preliminary reconnaissance survey, reviewing existing surveys and HRAs (and noting gaps), interviewing knowledgeable persons, and performing original research via primary sources including photographic archives. Next, we performed systematic field surveys of all properties above 45 years old and younger ones of exceptional significance. Findings and new photographs were then cataloged, and properties which appeared to meet federal, state, or local eligibility criteria were given additional research and integrated into an undated historic context statement.  


Whittier Residential Survey
Whittier, California

Chattel, in collaboration with a sub-consultant, prepared a historic context statement focusing on architectural contexts and themes connected with residential development in Whittier. The survey sought to answer the questions of why do residential properties in Whittier look the way they do and are they similar or different from other southern California cities? The user-friendly historic context statement identified character-defining features and common alterations. Research and field survey revealed that while Whittier’s architectural history has some unique elements, it generally reflects regional architectural trends. The survey was prepared in close coordination with the City of Whittier staff and Historic Resources Commission.

Chattel field surveyed approximately 1,540 properties generally constructed prior to 1941. An Access database incorporating GIS mapping was used to collect survey data in the field. The goal of creating historic context statements and conducting field surveys was to identify and gather data to evaluate the eligibility of identified properties for potential local, state or national historic resource designation. This will allow the City of Whittier to focus its planning efforts on preserving those buildings and districts that best illustrate its unique architectural character, while allowing for appropriate development.