That will be the question facing the buyer of this Whittier Boulevard property in East Los Angeles that is home to a classic piece of roadside architecture, the former Tamale Cafe. The answer will likely be “Tear It Down,” fears Esotouric tour company co-owner Kim Cooper, who noticed when the property recently went up for sale. Cooper says that the the former Tamale Cafe is the last of several such oddball buildings that once dotted Whittier Boulevard, prompting her to launch a campaign to preserve the tamale-shaped, building, which now houses a beauty salon.
Cooper, in a blog post, concedes that preserving the building won’t be easy:
Although it’s among the last of an indigenous California architectural form, unfortunately there is no structure in place for protecting or preserving the Tamale. Located in unincorporated Los Angeles County, it is not subject to the city’s historic preservation guidelines. State and National monument status is dependent on the whim of the property owner. And so she sits, caked in plaster, under the blazing east side sun, waiting for something to happen.
Cooper has reached out to County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who was involved in efforts to preserve the First Street Store murals and reuse the former Theater, to win some protection for the Whittier Boulevard tamale. The tamale and a back house are for sale at an asking price of $459,000.