Trailer park bids for historic status

September 17, 2002 Posted: 9:32 PM EDT (0132 GMT)



John Agnew stands outside his trailer at the Monterey Trailer Park.


LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- A Los Angeles trailer park could soon be joining the world-famous Hollywood sign and the city's Spanish Mission-style Union Station as a protected historic-cultural monument.


The Cultural Heritage Commission has asked the city council to give the 1.7 acre Monterey Trailer Park, which dates back to the early 1920s, monument status because of its place in the history of the great American road trip.


"It is not your typical trailer park," said Ken Bernstein, director of preservation for the Los Angeles Conservancy which is backing the bid.


"It began as an auto camp. It was a precursor of the motel, a place where car travelers to California could come and were offered temporary housing in this collection of landscaped camp sites and cabins," Bernstein said.


The trailer park, on a hilly and tree-filled site outside Pasadena, still has two 1920s Craftsman style houses, the original bathing and laundry building, and a structure thought to have been one of 10 original guest cabins. It is now home to about 30 people in 20 permanent trailers and mobile homes, many of them dating back to the 1950s.


The site was originally called the Monterey Auto Camp and was opened just as Americans were beginning to take their first long road trips in Model T's, before the first modern motels were built.


"There are other trailer parks all around southern California, but we think this is perhaps the most unique. And there are no other historic monuments in Los Angeles that are auto camps or trailer parks," said Bernstein.


The city council is expected to vote on the designation within the next few weeks.